Campaign is for all

I WAS interested to read Ms Stewart-Newell’s letter in the Observer. I would like to look at a number of points that she made, but as that would take up most of the readers’ letters’ page, I’ll restrict myself to the fact she seems to think that the 20’s Plenty campaign is purely for cyclists and that they should not (publicly at least) support a change in the law that would save thousands of lives and serious injuries each year in the UK alone.

It would also very much benefit a wide range of road and non-road users.

As an example, I would point you to the Take Action on Active Travel document, which calls for 20mph to be the default speed limit for most urban streets. This has been drawn up by (among others, including some cycling organisations) the Association of Directors of Public Health, the British Heart Foundation, the National Obesity Forum, the Ramblers’ Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal Institute of Public Health, the National Coalition for Active Ageing and the Sustainable Development Commission, and includes over 100 other groups which are signatories.

I suspect most of the members of these organisations pay insurance, MOT (as do most adult cyclists) and be of an age acceptable to Ms Stewart-Newell. Incidentally, as has been said many times before, there is no road tax in this country; it was withdrawn in the 1930s by Winston Churchill.

However, I suspect that most of them pay the rather different Vehicle Excise Duty (as do most adult cyclists) for cars that are eligible (and many aren’t), which contributes towards the external costs caused by motorists.

Reducing the speed limits to 20mph in the UK’s urban areas would bring them closer to those that apply in most of Europe where casualties amongst non-motorists are almost universally lower. If people (including cyclists) feel that people’s lives could be both saved and improved by such an action, which would be of minimal cost and inconvenience to others (and evidence suggests it would be neither of these things anyway) it is their moral duty to support it.

Whether they meet the criteria set out in last week’s letter or not, I would hope others with a sense of common good to do the same.

Martin Emmett