Sheffield 20mph zones: Are 20mph zones no better than gesturing at speeders to slow down?

Who could possibly object to a 20mph zone if they care about children? There’s plenty of evidence that a strike at that speed causes much less damage than at 30mph.

Friday, 17th June 2022, 8:26 am
How many drivers take notice?
How many drivers take notice?

It is also obvious that slower vehicles make cycling and walking safer and therefore more popular. And emissions and noise will be lower too.

All brilliant, no wonder the Lib Dems are celebrating a new scheme in Woodseats.

This is another step toward the council’s ambition of making every residential road 20mph. Speeding is selfish and potentially deadly and attempts to tackle it should be welcomed.

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But in the interests of impartiality it’s worth highlighting potential problems, notably a lack of evidence – or enforcement.

In 2019, South Yorkshire Police said they would not enforce 20mph zones and confirmed no drivers had been prosecuted for exceeding limits.

‘ Sleeping policemen’ - bumps - won’t be installed either, they are too expensive.

And where is the evidence they do the things they are meant to?

Considering there are now 20 20mph areas in Sheffield, figures for a reduction in speeding are noticeable by their absence.

Conversely, if the data were available you can be sure we would know about it. The same goes for speeding tickets.

There are some numbers though - and they are enough to make you weep.

Last year, nearly 797 people were caught exceeding the 20mph limit on High Storrs Road, which is home to both High Storrs School and Ecclesall Primary School, in just seven days.

The figures were shared via the Twitter account Speederbot Ecclesall, who tweeted: “I mean this is ridiculous when you look at the data.”

The top speed was 64 mph but, crucially, the average speed was 38.9 mph.

This sadly indicates that 20mph schemes are not very effective and possibly a waste of money.

The Woodseats scheme is costing £143,200, most of which will go on traffic signs and road markings.

Before any more are installed can someone prove they are worth it and not just a feel good, road safety bandwagon?