More of the borough’s streets are to have 20 mph speed limits, as Hackney Council works with neighbouring Islington to introduce lower speed limits on major roads.
A motion passed by Hackney Council on 21 November means the Council will campaign to enforce 20mph speed limits on non-residential roads under its control.
All of Hackney’s residential streets already have 20 mph limits following an initiative launched in 2008.
It has led to a halving of accidents, according to Cllr Vincent Stops, who introduced the motion at the council meeting.
Of the borough’s main roads, a number are under the control of the London Mayor through Transport for London, but many are also under local authority control.
Islington Council recently decided to enforce 20 mph speed limits on all roads over which it has jurisdiction, a move which has prompted Hackney to reconsider its position.
The text of the motion maintains that the principal obstacle to 20mph limits is the unwillingness of the local police to enforce them.
However, Police Chief Inspector Andy Walker said: “We have been involved in discussions with the Council about their plan to trial the expansion of 20 mph zones and we support any initiative which may make our roads safer.
“20 mph zones should be self-enforcing through the design and layout of the roads, but if there are problems with speeding in particular locations, such as outside schools, then police enforcement remains an option.”
Brenda Puech, co-ordinator of the Hackney branch of pedestrian group Living Streets supported the council’s initiative, claiming: “The 20 mph rule does need enforcement by the police and we are pleased that the Council will work with the police to make sure this measure works.
“We also hope that Transport for London will think about putting in 20 mph speed limits on busy shopping streets in Hackney such as Kingsland High Street, which are crowded with pedestrians.
“Having a safer and more pleasant pedestrian environment will be good for local businesses.”
In a raucous debate, council members clashed over which parties had historically supported 20 mph limits.
Labour councillors claimed Conservatives in Hackney had previously been in favour of the measure, though Conservatives said that while they supported 20 mph zones in theory, the motion would be costly and unenforceable.
Hackney Conservatives also objected to the placement of humps in streets as a traffic calming measure. Cllr Simche Steinberger noted that many environmentalists also object to such measures.
A study by the government’s Traffic Research Laboratory demonstrates that average emission rates of CO2 increased following the introduction of traffic calming measures.
Ms Puech said, however, that from a pedestrian point of view humps were not problematic: “We do not mind road humps so long as they are well constructed and have a sinusoidal shape.
“We prefer raised tables that can be used by pedestrians to cross. We think flashing signs are a good idea especially around schools and long stretches of roads such as Victoria Park Road. We also feel 20 mph can be achieved by careful street design, speed cameras and by ensuring that all Council vehicles, buses and contractors use black boxes to monitor their driving, and/or intelligent speed adapters in their vehicles.”
Cllr Ian Sharer of Hackney Liberal Democrats pointed out that the commitment to a 20 mph speed limit on all Hackney-controlled roads was first made in 2008 following the approval of a proposal put forward by a Green councillor (Mischa Borris) with the support of the Liberal Democrats.
Full text of the motion 20 mph limit:
This Council notes:
Hackney residents cycle more than those in any other London borough. Hackney has some of the highest levels of walking in London. Hackney is encouraging more residents and their children to cycle and walk. Many of these trips occur on Hackney’s busy roads.
That there are high levels of exposure to traffic collisions resulting in road crashes and injury. If the council continues to be successful in promoting active travel this exposure will increase.
All Hackney’s residential streets are now within 20mph zones.
Our neighbouring borough, Islington, intends to introduce 20mph limits on all the roads it controls. The proposal includes working in partnership with Hackney, through an initial trial for a year, to introduce this speed limit on the roads Islington shares with Hackney.
That the police are reluctant to enforce a 20 mph limit on the main road network that is not self enforcing.
i) Welcomes the initiative taken by Islington Council and the trial by Hackney Council on its roads;
ii) Wishes to build on the success of the introduction of slower speeds on residential roads, but is concerned that the lack of any proper means of enforcement will undermine this initiative;
iii) Resolves to seek to persuade the police to work with the Council to introduce an enforceable 20 mph limit on the roads controlled by Hackney Council.
iv) Resolves that officers are instructed to monitor and evaluate the trial so the Council can assess whether the remainder of Hackney primary route network can be subjected to a 20 mph limit without the use of self enforcing measures and in doing so considers any possible impacts on residential streets.
v) Resolves to lobby TfL to look at lower speeds to complement our approach, especially around town centres such as Shoreditch, Dalston and Stoke Newington
Proposer: Cllr Vincent Stops
Seconder: Cllr Feryal Demirci