Twenty is plenty on residential streets

By Conall McDevitt

As many of you may be aware, for some time now, I have been championing a campaign to reduce the speed limit on urban residential streets from 30mph to 20mph. Two years ago, I initiated a consultation process amongst local residents in a bid to gauge public support for a speed reduction, and following an approval rate of approximately 96 per cent, I now plan to introduce legislation to this effect through a Private Members Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

I have since launched a public consultation on the proposal which is due to complete on Monday 9 July.

Road injuries are amongst the leading causes of loss of life and disability worldwide, and regionally, a reduction in road related death and injury is a major aim of public policy.

I believe that by reducing the speed limit on designated restricted roads we could act positively to reduce collisions and fatalities on our roads.

The main objective of the proposed bill is to increase road safety, particularly for pedestrians and other road users, but as evidence from elsewhere suggests, a reduced speed limit also benefits our health and our environment.

Recent guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended the introduction of 20mph speed limits and zones as an important way of improving safety and of creating environments to encourage and enable active lifestyles.

The implementation of a bill would serve as a preventative measure to ensure a reduction in numbers killed on our roads.

At present, there are some designated 20mph zones in this region; however the introduction of legislation to be applied to appropriate designated streets would represent a positive step towards making our streets a safer place.

It is envisaged that the legislation would apply only to smaller residential streets and not major thoroughfares.

My priority as MLA for the area is the safety and welfare of the communities I represent.

This will obviously be undertaken in as cost effective a manner as possible, but as incidents from the last few weeks in relation to flooding have shown, under investment in local infrastructure must not be ignored. Whether it’s improved drainage in Finaghy or creation of 20mph zones, these issues must be given priority.

Secondly, whilst I understand concerns from some quarters as to the cost of implementation, any reduction in accidents will subsequently reduce financial burdens on the NHS in providing aftercare, and with the NI Executive currently spending upwards of £900m a year on road accident injuries, the potential savings are clearly apparent, not to mention the human benefits in terms of casualties prevented.

I would welcome your views on this matter, and would encourage you to respond to the consultation which runs until Monday 9 July. You can do so by visiting http://kwiksurveys.com?u=20mphConsultation or by emailing c.mcdevitt@Sdlp.ie for more information.

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