Shapps won't budge on limits despite rise in 'extreme speeding'

14/05/2020
Dominic Browne

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has refused to limit speeds across England despite the lockdown's quiet roads prompting an increase in extreme speeding.

The news comes as police report that extreme speeding enforcement in London has risen by 142% during lockdown compared to the same period last year, with at least 10 people killed in crashes in the capital since March 23.

This equates to 1,656 extreme speeding offences compared with 684 for the same period in 2019.

Earlier this month, the Met police said: 'Speeds have increased in all categories from 20 to 70mph. Officers from the RTPC have issued more than 4,000 enforcement notices since lockdown compared with the same period last year of over just over 2,300 - this equates to a 71% increase in speeding enforcement compared with the same period in 2019 despite 40% less traffic on the road.'

Caroline Russell AM wrote to Grant Shapps about bringing down the speed limit to 20mph on all urban roads with street lighting - as a test of residential roads - to even out the patchwork of limits that currently exist in London.

While TfL is bringing in 20mph on some of their roads, some councils – including Mr Russell's home borough of Islington - have already brought in this change to make their streets safer.

Ms Russell revealed that the Government had responded to her letter but would not take up the idea.

'We have more people on foot at the moment, I have seen people walk on the carriageway to avoid people walking on pavements. This huge increase in pedestrians means we need radical change, now, to protect them while this emergency continues,' she said.

'While the minister appears to support 20mph speed limits he misses the point that changing the default limit as an emergency measure would help local councils.

'A national policy would mean all urban roads with street lighting could have 20mph limits without having to change signage or road markings. It would help support the Government’s own policy of social distancing as well as making it cheaper for councils to make the roads they control safer.'

Polling by Greenpeace last week found that 45% of Londoners supported a move to  '20 mph speed limits on all main roads in urban areas, with 30mph only being allowed as an exception along main roads where segregated cycling lanes are in place'.

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