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Making Southwark's Roads Safer

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Thursday 27 November 2008 5.01pm
In 2006, there were 1,070 collisions on roads in Southwark. These killed seven people and injured over a thousand others, 131 of them seriously. Almost half (490) of these collisions occurred on the 16 miles of red routes that are managed by Transport for London (TfL).

Reducing the maximum speed of vehicles reduces road casualties. On roads where 20mph zones are introduced, research by TfL shows that the number of serious or fatal casualties falls by more than half.

Southwark Council is working to reduce casualties on its roads by lowering vehicle speeds and introducing other safety measures. Transport for London, however, is reluctant to reduce speed limits on its red routes. These roads, therefore, have high levels of casualties, especially amongst pedestrians and cyclists. If you look at the casualty map (each red dot represents a personal injury casualty in the past 3 years) on Page 11 of the Plan (see link below) you will see that casualties are high on all of the main roads in the north of the borough and many of these are managed by TfL (see page 16). Casualties are particularly high around the Elephant and in the London Bridge Station area.

These high casualties blight town centres all over Southwark such as Camberwell, Peckham, Rotherhithe, the Elephant and Borough High Street. Their domination by fast moving vehicles also adds to economic gloom by discouraging people from spending time and money there.

Drivers too can benefit from lower speeds. Studies show that urban 20 mph zones improve average speeds and save fuel. As a result traffic flows better. This reduces emissions and pollution meaning fresher air for drivers and pedestrians. New technology also means that speed limits no longer need to be solely enforced by speed humps.

Southwark Council is working on improving its Road Safety Plan (, but it is handicapped by the absence of a credible strategy for reducing casualties on the red routes. Please contribute to the Road Safety Plan. Have a look at the numbers of casualties in your area and think whether you want your town centres to be made safer with a 20mph speed limit. Our group, Southwark Living Streets, has adapted its web-site to help local residents take part in the consultation. Please have a look at our site at

Thanks for your interest.

Alastair Hanton & Jeremy Leach, Southwark Living Streets
Thursday 27 November 2008 5.58pm
It is very obvious that lowering the speed of anything makes it safer, that applies to cyclists and pedestrians too! If all pedestrians and cyclists and cars shared separate tunnels and were limited to 1 mph there may be zero deaths. So why not propose this? The answer is of course that life is a compromise. 30 mph on through roads like the ones TFL manage is a good compromise in my opinion. 20 mph on small local roads or those next to schools, care homes etc seems a sensible precaution. If anyone takes the time to look at a real world example of where 20mph zones have been badly implemented come on down to Grange Road and look at the disaster this is. The law abiding few are harrassed by the majority who think 40 mph is too slow, there are no schools or care homes on this stretch, just a lot of through traffic thanks to the aptly named "congestion zone" border. A better enforced 30 mph on this sort of busy road, and removal of a useless bus lane, would protect far more people and help stop the resentment felt by motorists when the nannying state apparatus is run by civil servants with no experience of the real situations they are meant to be managing for ALL road users.

Go onto the site recommended above and contribute, but don't look blindly at casualty statistics, an awful lot of casualties are not the fault of the vehicles or their speed and these deaths and injuries require other methods to eradicate.
Friday 28 November 2008 1.28am

I can only agree with much of your comments.While I am sure Living Streets have a good agenda,and their comments about 20mph zones are true, Grange Road is an excellent example of where the 20mph zone is a complete farce. Southwark are afraid of TFL, won't put in sufficient humps to slow vehicles, and farcically put in a tiny speed activated sharp bend sign as part of the 20mph zone.

Chuck in some railings and build a few dropped kerbs, and we have a street where vehicles are given free reign, add to that umpteen skip lorries rat running to Surrey Canal Road, and you might as well call it a red Route, it has 24/7 restrictions anyway,it is a Bus Priority Route.

Meanwhile cyclists duck and dive from overtaking vehicles turning in early to avoid the road furniture.

Then they rip out the 20mph entry signs on the junction with Tower Bridge Road, and, as you suggest, I wish they'd rip up their speed humps and install some 30mph cameras, Jeremy does need to climb out into the real world, and take on the real challenge, deliver 20mph on the major A roads in Southwark, that would be a real contribution to Road safety in Southwark, and then move on to Red Routes in the next edition of the road safety plan.

If pressed, I'm sure vehicle speeds on Borough High Street and Duke Street Hill/Tooley Street are lower than Grange Road, are casualty figures linked to pedestrian/vehicle density rather than speed?, and any comments about those streets being dominated by fast moving vehicles are far from the truth, and pedalling on economic gloom is somewhat off topic for such a serious issue.

The Network Manager for Roads in Southwark, an Andrew Downes has stated "main purpose is to provide access to the TLRN for vehicles in the area" about Grange Road, surely if Living Streets want to address the Red Route Issues then they need to address the feeder roads first.

Jeremy, if you wish your organisation to contribute to the north of the borough, then I, and am sure, from his comments, that Jerry would welcome the same, then please come and look at the area from the pavement, not a map, the issues here are quite distant from the streets of Dulwich, I'm sure you will be very welcome, although the time for 20 mph on Red Routes may well not have arrived yet.
Friday 28 November 2008 8.44am
Finally some sense....and as ever not from disengenuous data supplied by Southwark Living Streets. Well said Jerry and Bill.0 above and most constrctively argued.

The vast majority of accidents can, as pointed out, be avoided if no-one did anything but instead of always targetting traffic why not target other road users such as pedestrians who frequently run accross roads like Tooley Street in front of already extreemley slow moving traffic.

Pragrmatism not dogma should be the overriding basis for managing our crowded streets, for all users, and information should be presented without bias or predjudice against any particular group.
Friday 28 November 2008 10.45am
I find appalling that such deliberately misleading "arguments" are being put forward by someone representing a publicly-funded body.

...if you press it, they will come.
Friday 28 November 2008 1.52pm
I am really puzzled by the policy Southwark has, of putting in large humps at T-junctions. A bit further from Bermondsey, in Rotherhithe, they are in the process of putting these humped areas on minor roads (e.g. Downtown Road) where they meet Salter Road. These minor roads are usually cul-de-sacs with very little traffic, so please who actually benefits from the installations apart from the contractors (who take weeks over each one)?

It just seems that someone has decided they are a "good thing" and then, regardless of actual use in specific instances, they get installed in lots of places.

There was also one of those 20 mph flashing signs near the YHA (Salter Road/Rotherhithe St) recently, even though it is 30mph area!! After a few weeks enough people had complained and it disappeared last week.

The best speed reduction incentive I have seen was the temporary road surface on Salter Road the other year which had longitudinal grooves in it - everyone went slowly over that because of the noise it made!
Friday 28 November 2008 6.46pm
Can't quite figure out who is for what and anti what. Can't see anything misleading about what Jeremy said either. Anyway main thing is to make noises to TfL and Southwark and the Living Streets consultation.

There is a multiplicity of weird and wonderful ways of enforcing the 20mph limit - some downright bad. But 20mph as a principle is sound, on many red routes - Tower Bridge Road, New Kent Road, Borough High Street are ones I can think of in my corner of Southwark.

20mph means that drivers will do 25mph. Which is a sensible speed on these routes. These are generally either congested or have a lot of traffic lights so acceleration to 30-35 is ultimately a bit pointless and leads to frustration or racing to get through green/orange lights.

30mph means drivers will do 35mph. This is a speed at which fatality (for a child) is more than likely in a collision.

(Cameras usually trip at 10% + 2mph though this may change of course...)

Pedestrians and cyclists do some silly things, particularly around the Elephant, Walworth Road, Waterloo etc. As a driver I respond by slowing down - what else? What kind of driver wants to risk mowing someone down for the sake of a few seconds journey time saved (or none when the traffic light ahead of you has perhaps a 50-50 chance of being red)
Friday 28 November 2008 9.46pm

That kind of driver seems to be the ones that enjoy Grange Road as a track!

There is no conflicting issue here, only a desire to see 20mph zones being as close as possible to that, 25 in your opinion, which is fine.

Grange Road is an example where the motorist has been left to adhere to the limit on his/her own, which doesn't deliver anything.

If Southwark are to deliver 20mph Red Routes, then there needs to be a means to deliver, Grange Road can't have many speed bumps as its' a Bus Route, magnify that onto a major road if you can.

If 20mph can't be delivered whats' the next option, thats' the option for red routes. There is little purpose in having a Policy that is undeliverable, that only plays to politicians, and probably give Jeremy a nice warm glow, and deliver nothing for residents or road deaths.
Saturday 29 November 2008 10.19am
Some very interesting replies so far. Part of the point I was making was that there are times when 20 mph is too fast on a stretch of road and there are other times 30 mph (or more) can be safe too. By taking away the real responsibility of those decisions and having blanket bans reinforces the feeling that an individual's judgement counts for little. Yes I have had one ticket for speeding in 30 years of driving, right on my patch on the OKR early on a Sunday morning on an empty three lane part of the road. There was a clear line of sight and I was of no danger to anyone. This is so different from doing a legal but possibly lethal 25 mph past a school at drop off time in the morning. If Southwark want to reduce injuries then they should concentrate energies on educating pedestrians, and cyclists in particular, to realise that just like I slow down at schools they need to slow down or stop at junctions. As part of that education the council should rent a truck and encourage cyclists to sit in the driver's seat and see how invisible they are if they ride up the near-side of it. Perhaps this could be done at schools?
Sunday 30 November 2008 2.33pm
How mistaken was I.

This is actually a discussion about the failings of cyclists.

Shame that, it had some substance.
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