20's Plenty for Herts calls on Herts County Council to rethink Speed Management Strategy
Updated: Dec 27, 2020
In December, 20's Plenty for Herts asked all members of the Herts County Council's Highways and Environment Cabinet Panel to note and reflect on the growing level of public interest in and concern about managing speed in their local streets. In its revised form the Speed Management Strategy offers no practical improvements to address these concerns and introduce wide-area 20mph zones, which is what many residents in Hertfordshire want. The headline words in the SMS show that Herts County Council do recognise a public aspiration to walk and cycle more, to have safer and healthier streets but, the strategy in its current form will fail to meet those aspirations.
20's Plenty for Hertfordshire encouraged Council Members from all political parties to reject the SMS and require substantial changes to be made that prioritise and facilitate the widespread adoption of 20mph across ourtowns and villages.
Key Areas of Concern in the proposed Speed Management Strategy:
Is there anything new? No, nothing substantive. The new SMS is superficially more positive towards wider 20mph areas and active travel but is not an improvement over the July consultation and, as before, does nothing in practical terms to support active travel as per LTP4.
Wider 20mph areas, easier or harder? Harder. The 10% exemption under the March 2014
SMS has been removed, the street-by-street approach retained and the threshold reduced
from 25mph in the consultation document to 24mph in the SMS.
Is it value for money? No. The street-by-street approach with a 24mph threshold will
continue deliver a patchwork of small 20mph limits bisected by faster roads. These are
confusing for all road users and shown to offer poor self-enforcement. And they - at 3-8
times more costly – they are expensive and provide poor value to the taxpayer.
Does speed rule? Yes. Current, measured speed will continue to set speed limits in
Hertfordshire. This is based on a misleading interpretation of DfT Guidance. The much
vaunted ‘self compliance’ principle is not, as is claimed, the key principle in the DfT
Guidance; it is one of several principles. The Annex contains a list of these misleading and
Do you know a vulnerable (road) user? If they’re pregnant the SMS says that they’re not
vulnerable. Really? If you’re pregnant and crossing the road, or you have young children,
speed and its management are directly relevant you. The Inequalities Assessment is flawed.
Is the SMS on the HCC risk register? If not, it should be.
Will it decarbonise Transport? No. For all the reasons stated above, the car will continue to be the status quo choice for short journeys in Hertfordshire. The Strategy as presented will
embed the status quo - a missed opportunity.
Why does Hertfordshire lag so far behind large parts of the UK on implementing default
20mph areas? More than 20 million people in the UK now live, or soon will do, in ‘default 20’ areas. In Hertfordshire, there are no such areas. Why should Hertfordshire not have them? Our petition, which reached 250 ‘signatures’ in less than 48 hours, suggests that the
Hertfordshire public want them too. COVID-19 is a game-changer, why does HCC not use the SMS to seize the current opportunity and really drive progress towards LTP4’s active travel aspirations?
The Dept for Transport on 13 November urged councils to do more to promote safe walking and cycling as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and has provided funding to do so. Why is the DfT Guidance applied in such a backward-looking manner?
DfT Guidance does not require that every road in a proposed 20mph area have an
average speed of 24mph or less. Why does Hertfordshire require it?
DfT Guidance does not require road speeds to be measured at their fastest point
under free-flowing conditions. Why does Hertfordshire require it?
DfT Guidance does not require expensive and unpopular engineering solutions where
measured average speed exceeds 24mph. Why does Hertfordshire require it?
Why are changes being made to the SMS that would make implementing wider 20mph areas more difficult, not less? For example, the revised strategy removes the provision from the previous SMS that permitted 10% of roads in a proposed scheme to exceed the 24mph threshold?