Why 20 is plenty

THE Observer two weeks ago carried two letters about 20’s Plenty.

It is heartening to see both Mr Hutton and Mr Wreyford support the principle of a 20mph limit on our residential roads, and I hope this letter will go some way to dispel their misgivings about how the practice might turn out.

Mr Hutton makes a good point in saying that there are already too many signs blighting Chichester’s roads.

And, to be enforceable, 20mph streets will need to add to the jollity with small repeater signs at reasonable intervals.

But surely repeater signs of a limited size are hardly comparable to more intrusive signs like the large direction signs which line our major roads, not to mention the garish newcomers to the cityscape, strategically placed to tell you precisely how many free parking spaces there are in each city car park.

Even if repeat signs do slightly offend some, surely that is a reasonable price to pay for making Chichester a better place to walk, cycle or live.

Mr Wreyford makes a number of cogent points, but 20’s Plenty provides a new way of sharing the streets, which turns much of traditional highways thinking on its head.

20’s Plenty does not perceive a need for expensive infrastructure such as bumps, chicanes and raised platforms.

On the contrary, by adopting the 20’s Plenty approach, the city (or rather County Highways) should end up saving the very considerable costs of piecemeal installation of just such road-calming measures – a set of speedhumps here and a chicane there – lamentably late and only after the event in response to accidents and fatalities.

Mr Wreyford’s letter also suggests priority should be given to problem roads, and particularly those around schools. A self-evidently sensible idea, one might imagine.

Until, that is, you stop to think that a culture of walking and cycling to school won’t re-emerge until the whole of the child’s school journey is made safe – not just the last 100 yards outside the school gates.

And until that culture re-emerges, parents themselves will continue to contribute to the pollution, congestion and danger as they continue to drive their children as close as possible to the school gate.

Other communities in the UK and abroad have started to educate their drivers to embrace slower speeds for all as the way forward to make their towns and cities safer places to be and they have found that the police do enforce the speed limits which their councils have democratically endorsed.

20’s Plenty is about sharing the roads equitably with other people and some people do not like this idea at all as they are happy with, and perhaps even unaware of, their dominance over people who do not have the luxury of airbags and protective metal boxes.

20’s Plenty is in the process of questioning complacency, changing attitudes and consequently behaviour even of the police, whatever our transport planners might want us to believe.

Sarah Sharp

Whyke Lane, Chichester