Hidden away in the tweets of our local Councillors are many controversial policy ideas.  The ones Messers Miliband and Cameron occasionally touch on but only with a very long barge pole indeed.  Afraid a policy may stink nationally?  Delegate the powers to local authorities then pick off the lobby groups authority by authority … This is called localism (or “salami tactics”).  So I was perusing twitter the other day when I spotted Labour’s Cllr Fitzsimonds of Addiscombe ...

...plugging the alliterative and patronising slogan “20 is Plenty”.   He followed this up with a new and interesting mathematical conundrum - that “20 is the new 30”.  For those of you who don’t know...

... see this video in which Rod King the founder of “20’s plenty where people live” and his acolytes explain to people like me who “tell him they drive fast but haven’t hurt anybody” that “speed just becomes greed” while simultaneously arguing that it’s a good idea for local activists to lobby their council to bring in 20 mph zones because it willincrease the value of our homes”. 

He also explains the difference in survival rates between collisions at 30 miles an hour and 20 mph with the help of a film about collisions at 40 mph and 20 mph. 

Or if you prefer that in km per hour

To be fair there's a 40% greater chance of killing a pedestrian at 30 mph than 20 mph but then why does Mr King insist on talking about death rates at 40 mph.  Because, of course, it's about "saving lives" so any lie is acceptable and Rod King spends a lot of time on both sides of the atlantic making sure everybody knows this. 

It seems to me that people are not in a rush to argue against "road safety" measures... one immediately lays oneself open to portrayal as a callous deluded loony of the kind that in the 1970s would have argued that being made to wear a seat belt...

... was an unwarranted intrusion of the nanny state into the day to day life of the private citizen.  However, so disingenuous is the 20's Plenty campaign and associated twaddle that I feel some kind of fightback is called for ... so here it is.  Let's start with their website then ramble on aimlessly... Such is the volume of nonsense promoted by 20's plenty that it took me some time to dissect it ... so here's a index to the various issues covered in the rest of his article

Appeal to Self Interest - 20 mph zones increase house prices
Tell people they can use public transport instead despite the fact it stops at night
The fiction that 20 mph zones will not be applied to A roads or TfL roads
Keep repeating the word DEATH even though death on the roads is not actually increasing
The problem of deciding what is a rat run
The infamous Portsmouth study that found KSI went up but deaths went down
Norman Baker explains how blanket unenforced 20 mph zones are the worst of both manifesto loopholes
Horse travel deaths - it wasn't all that better in the past?
Actually Congestion is a function of ... number of road users VS limited urban space?
Drive 55 - the "environmental" argument for 20's plenty and why it is clearly nonsense
Professor of Geography Danny Dorling explains the increase in the FEAR of death
The sordid issue of enforcement
The lie that everyone else drives at 20 mph and it's just us who want to run people over
The lie that Britain's roads are less safe than those in the Netherlands
Population Density maps showing the difference between the Netherlands and the UK
The man who is "undemocratic" because he drives a taxi
German MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch
The doomed political struggle to get people out their comfy cars
Will it really only be an extra 40 seconds on every journey?
Back of a fag packet calcuation of the man hour costs of the policy in £
The Green Cross code ... remember that?
The cost ... £600,000 a city?
Speed Limiters - why not?
The Association of British Drivers
The funding links between 20's plenty and the Environmental Transport Association
Transport history and theormodynamics made simple...?
What rail and public transportation systems struggle to do
The pre and post war tram systems
London Overground - a rail congestion example
The doctrine of Traffic Evaporation

Like all small lobby groups 20's Plenty struggles to market its unappealing ideas to the majority of the population who dont want to die of boredom with great inventiveness.  Indeed on the back pages of the 20's Plenty website Alan Tapp of University of West of England explains how "Total 20 could be socially marketed". Pointing out the importance of simple clear messages and empathy with people who may want to change their behaviour. Key stages in social marketing are  :-

1.       Build values and beliefs
2.       Appeal to self-interest
3.       Counter myths and objections

So anyway ... I asked Cllr Fitzsimonds derisively “And I'm meant to get to gigs on time how? Maybe I should get a man to walk in front with a flag too?”  After all there have been so many accidents since the Locomotive Act of 1865...  let’s bring back horses?  I feel I have the authority to be this sarcastic as while I might not be the funniest comedian on the circuit I do have 36 less points on my licence than Omid Djalili.

It's not an accident that comedians and politicians are amongst some of the people with the most points on their licences...

Chris Huhne - Well known for his points

...they both have jobs that can require traveling long distances.  Chris Huhne's attempts to commute between the EU and all four corners of his massive EU constituency got him in some very hot water indeed when ... but never mind about that.  That's another story.  Anyway...

Cllr Fitzsimonds responded that I could still get to my gigs “Hopefully by public transport. Seriously, main arterial routes would be exempt as run by TFL”

Public transport?  Is he mad? - by time most out of town gigs are finished Thomas the Tank Engine is curled up in his sidings with a warm mug of hot engine oil.  The distance between such comments and the reality of the lives people like me live is not the cause of automatic endearment.  That said I did once get to Birmingham and back for £7 on the train and there are excellent all night transport links to Croydon (not that Geraint Davies ever noticed) but all the same I just cant go everywhere by train.  And, of course, generally it’s more expensive. 

Certainly MPs Gavin Barwell and Malcolm Wicks found the late night train journey back to Croydon from central London so arduous they had to car share … so why should I slum it?

Croydon MPs Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central)
and the late Malcolm Wicks (Croydon North)
used to car share on their way home from Westminster
rather than slum it on public transport with the plebs

...while previous Croydon Central incumbent Gerainy Davies
found driving into central London or getting the train
so tiresome he had to buy a flat on expenses instead

despite there being an all night train service

So Cllr Fitzsimonds assured me that “20 mph zones would only apply to local residential roads, not motorways or major routes.”  But what is a local residential road and what is a “major route”…?  Tricky question on such an overcrowded island?  This lie is easily exposed by "20's plenty"'s own website which proudly displays a picture of a 20 mph speed limit on the main A61 in Thirsk

...which I gather from the fact it has an A number is a MAIN ROAD?!

Ironically this road has one of the highest fatality rates in the country but out of town ... not on the section where the 20mph limit has been imposed...?

The argument that while all other roads will be 20 mph TfL routes alone will be excempt is, of course, a BLACK LIE. 
TfL are busy reducing speeds to 20mph too. 

Lilli Matson, head of delivery planning at Transport for London, said: "Road safety is at the heart of everything that TfL delivers on the capital's streets and we have long supported boroughs, including through funding, in implementing 20 mph zones where appropriate.  We have recently consulted on introducing a 20mph speed limit on Waterloo roundabout and will continue to consider lower speeds on TfL roads where genuine benefits in terms of both safety and liveability of town centres can be balanced alongside other functions the road performs, such as the movement of people and goods."

The 20's plenty website positively drools over the possibilities of the 20 mph town.  And states that 80% of people believe there should be 20 mph speed limits on "residential" roads.  Well, if you ask people if they want a 20 mph speed limit on the road they live on they will, of course, say "yes" ... but if you ask them if they want it on all roads in the town you may get a very different answer.  What is a "residential" road?

For example when road humps came in we were told they were only going to be on minor roads.  So what are they doing on Gypsy Hill Road? 

Gypsy Hill - a main road? before Lambeth Council
decided to fill it with a load of humps

True, it is a steep hill, but looking at the 20 is plenty website

 …I saw that actually, while there’d been injuries along there, ...there hasn’t actually ever been a fatality ever?  When I pointed this out on the Inside Croydon website someone replied
"This sums up this dreadful post. Your utter casual attitude to serious injuries and fatalities. Not only do you not see injuries as a problem, you effectively advocate that danger should be ignored until someone has been killed there. That’s the

 of a lot of people you’re advocating london wide."

Well, actually I didn't say that the danger should be ignored or advocate anyone's..

....  I actually said that this seemed a silly way to deal with the dangers.  There is a subtle difference between discussing the level of risk that society should be prepared to tolerate and advocating the ...

...of other people.  One is a theoretical discussion - the other is a breach of Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.  However, if you want to see it purely in those terms clearly some roads are being exempted from 20 mph limits so actually yes, politicians do sit around tables and make hard decisions like

The cost to the economy in £ VS The number of dead bodies

If the cost to the economy was of no importance compared to human life then ALL non motorway roads would be 20mph - or even 10 mph.  Busses which have more mass and consequently more momentum and are therefore more fatal to be hit by at even 10 mph would also be made to go slower.  The fact they aren't shows I'm not the only person doing such cynical calculations.

I also asked why this road in particular is a 20 zone given it doesn't actually have a worse safety record than many other roads in the area.  Really no one's actually been killed on that road in the last 10 years.  Just how safe do you want it to be? 

Okay, there have been 8 serious and 26 minor injuries in 10 years.  That may sound a lot but it's actually quite low for that type of road - adjoining Central Hill has two fatalities.  And counter-intuitively Westow Street which also joins onto it has a much greater accident density.  Gypsy Hill might look intimidating because it is steep ... but is it actually the most dangerous road in the area ...or most in need of traffic calming?  Still why look at the actual data when you can have an irrational emotional response? 

A similar conundrum that I haven’t understood for years is how Stoats Nest Road in Purley is regarded as a B road and therefore has no humps but adjoining Hartley Down road which connects to the end of Old Lodge Lane is NOT regarded as a B road and has humps. 

Neither road has any fatalities.  I think it’s completely RANDOM.  Although it may be that Stoats Nest is regarded as an A road because the busses cannot get under the railway bridge.

Lots of our road network is a complex mess of inter connecting webs of roads many of which were not designed as “main arteries” or “residential streets” but …well… just another road?  Look at central London with it’s what-was-once-a-grid-structure ...

Sir Christopher Wren's plan for rebuilding London after the Great Fire 1666

...on top of which was added on half a gyratory.  Why isn’t The Mall a residential street?  It clearly has palaces on it…?  Deciding what is a legitimate route and what is a ...

...rat run is not that simple?  When I started down these lines...  Cllr Fitzsimonds came out with his killer one liner “and what about the additional lives that will be saved? That's not an issue for you”.  A gold standard causal simplification. 

Death explains the "20 is plenty campaign" to the kind of selfish twit
who drives at 30 mph ...putting their desire for social mobility above
other human lives. 

Of course it may be true that everyone driving more slowly would save more lives but one has to wonder why this is suddenly such a HUGE political problem in 2012 that it keeps the political class awake at night when they have known that 30 mph is significantly more dangerous than 20 mph for nearly 120 years.  It is, after all, mainly simply a matter of Newtonian Physics and observation.  So why is this keeping politicians awake at night now ... given that it didn't bother them much before?

Death is the constant companion of the 20's Plenty Movement ... constantly wheeled out on their website to justify restriciting the rights and freedoms of drivers further and further.  For it is a well known fact that all deaths on the roads are the cause of drivers and it isn't pedestrians and cyclists who might also be acting retarded. 

It is after all a well known fact that driving at 20 will save lives.  Except, of course, that opinion……is actually divided…?

For the study in Portsmouth to which he referred me actually showed that the number of


went up following the introduction of blanket 20 mph zones … although the number of ACCIDENTS went down.  I’m sure there’s a Harry Hill routine in that. 

I like children living but I dislike accidents ... Still what do facts and data matter when children might DIE?   As Cllr Fitzsimonds informed me … “glad to know your views on this issue. Self interest trumps community need”. 

Truthfully ...conclusive statistical analysis either way is probably impossible on the small data samples currently available …but Local Traffic authorities now have the power to introduce 20 mph speed limits and zones without obtaining consent from the Secretary of State (see here) Lib Dem Norman Baker who doesn’t want to get his hands dirty in case it turns out to be a disaster so... they’ll make it so. 

Apart from being Lcoal Transport Minister Norman Baker is, of course, most famous for his book "the Strange Death of Doctor Kelly".  And of course for suggesting that Robin Cook had been murdered by MI5 in the Argos and widely recognised for being able to draw sensible conclusions from not much data.

So I raised the suggestion that maybe I would be willing to drive at 20 if the government were willing to compensate me for the extra man hours it would take to get places?  Yet to be offered a rebate on my council tax...

Even if I was to agree with Cllr Fitzsimonds point that there is “conclusive proof 20 zones work” there’s still the question of what do you mean by “work”?  Surely we should be aiming to drive quickly and safely … not just safely?

The 20’s plenty website seems to know this is it’s Achilles heel because it amusingly reassures motorists that “it is very rare that you can travel at a constant speed of 30 mph. Bends, blind spots, parked cars, junctions, pedestrian crossings, cars turning right, traffic lights and many more things mean that you have to slow down or stop very often”.  So what other freedoms that I am unable to enjoy do they wish to delete? 
That the freedom is ever more rarely enjoyed does not mean that it should be automatically deleted.

Anyway this is clearly nonsense as if it was true that hardly anyone could drive at 30 in a “residential” area no one would bother running a campaign against such a thing?  Perhaps the truth isnt that it is people driving at 30 that is the problem but people driving at all?  Perhaps they want us to walk?

After all if you're going to drive everywhere at 20 mph you may as well get a horse and give up on all this tarmac nonsense?  After all a human walks at 4 mph, a horse trots at 8 to 12 mph, canters at 12 to 15 mph and gallops at 24 to 30 mph.   

Then again horse travel wasn't that safe ...ask Maureen Connolly, Roy Kinnear, Cole Porter, Christopher Reeve , King Afonso I of Portugal, Al-Aziz - sultan of Egypt, Brian Faulkner, Cambyses II, Enguerrand III, Francis II Duke of Brittany, Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, Frederick I Barbarossa, Genghis Khan, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Philip II of France, Philip III of France,  John I of Castile,  John of Ibelin, Leopold V of Austria, Louis II of Hungary, Louis IV of France, Maria Malibran, Marjorie Bruce, Mary of Valois, Minamoto no Yoritomo, Najm ad-Din Ayyub, Nero,  Claudius Drusus, Philip of Burgundy, Philip of France, Pope Urban VI, Robert Peel, Roderick, King of the Visigoths, Saborios, Stefan Dragutin, Theodoric Strabo, Theodosius II, Theophylactus of Constantinople, Walter de Merton or William III of England?

Victims of Equine travel from left to right :
Cole Porter, Roy Kinnear, Christopher Reeve,
Robert Peel, Pope Urban VI and Genghis Khan

Harold MacMillan also complained vociferously in his memoirs about the pervasive smell

Was it all so much better in the past?  Well, actually surveys do exist.  British Road engineer J J Leeming did a famous study in the 1960s of historical data for British transport fatality rates.  He studied the periods 1863-1870, 1891-1900, 1931-1938 and the year 1963.  The results were not what one might expect:

Years Studied
Total Deaths Per Million of Population Per Year
Deaths per year if Today


*excluding rail suicides 40 a year

What the data shows is that in the 1800s loads of people died on water (despite the fact that many journeys were less than 20 mph).  As more transport moved from being Water and Rail to Road ... rail and water deaths decreased and road deaths increased to ~ 300 per million of population from about  ~ 120. 

In the column on the right I've multipled Total Deaths Per Million of Population Per Year by 63 to calculate the Total Deaths per year if the population was the same size as Today.  Today's population is 63,000,000 so in terms of today's population 1963's 325 Total Deaths Per Million of Population Per Year would equate to 20,475 Total Deaths per year if the population was the same size as Today.

At the bottom I've added the government's statistics for 2011.  In 2011 the number of deaths on the road was approx 2000.  This means that the Total Deaths Per Million of Population Per Year for 2011 is ~ 29 (somewhat down on 1963's 278).

There was a massive drop in rail casualties in 2010/11 when the government finally decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to fence off a bit more of the track.  40% of the deaths on the rail network are suicide so the government helpfully excludes these death from any statistical analysis. 

If only the Coq d'Argent restaurant could evade culpability for being a favourite suicide spot as easily.  Unfortunately both trains and rooftop restaurants as well as Monuments to the Great Fire of London suffer from the burden of a tendency to become suicide hot spots.  While it's not prohibitatively expensive to put measures in place to stop people jumping off a rooftop garden or doric column ... fencing off entire hundred mile long railway lines can be very expensive indeed.  If you have been affected by any of the issues in this paragraph please do not throw yourself off Coq d'Argent - I often walk down Poultry and dont want you landing on my head - call 08457 90 90 90.  By the way you don’t have to be suicidal bore a Samaritan.  You can bore them any time  - that is what they are for.

Indeed while fatalities caused by drivers have gone down there's also been an increase in cyclist caused fatalities in recent years. 

MP Andrea Leadsom even introduced a private members' bill to create new crimes of causing death or serious injury through dangerous or reckless cycling.  Matters are complicated by the fact that many cyclists mistakenly believe that there is no speed limit for cyclists ... exactly what part of ""The 30 mph limit usually applies to all traffic" they dont understand is beyond me.  The beatification of cyclists by politicians leads them to purport some of the most insane pieces of nonsense ever spouted on the internet.  For example that speed limits "dont apply to them" because they are excempt from The Road Traffic Regulation Act, 1984.  They clearly haven't read the Road Traffic Act 1988 sections 28 to 31? and feel that because there are no specific guidelines about exactly what is a dangerous speed for a bike because it is left to the PoPo to use their common sense ... that this somehow translates to them being completely beyond the law.  It is does not.

When in Bournemouth the Police actually dared to stop cyclists for breaking the speed limit the Daily Mail immediately opined that this was a waste of public money ...?  It seems in the eyes of the political class cyclists can do no wrong.

Before the imposition of cycle lanes of course cyclists used to all have to use the road.   Then the GLA came up with the "cycling superhighway" and insisted local authorities implement cycle lanes without actually funding them.  The solution to this, of course, is to let cyclists cycle on the pavements as well and run over some pedestrians...

...the nadir of this policy is the bike lane actually running through a pavement...

David Kent, London engagement officer of Guide Dogs for the Blind, said the design would put visually impaired people at risk.  He said: “Cyclists are impossible to hear — they are the silent menace. Where it puts our particular client group at risk is exactly with designs like this.” Still Boris has invested a fortune in his Boris bikes scheme and therefore must produce cycle lanes for it.  Particularly now that he has got everyone on his bikes and can double the fares.

Of course all this seeks to expose another major lie of the 20's Plenty Movement... that Congestion is a function of the speed of traffic.  Actually Congestion is a function of ...

number of road users VS limited urban space

...the reason cyclists now need to be allowed on the pavement is that the government has decided it wants to increase the number of cyclists because it thinks it is greener, cheaper and more desirable but cannot actually widen many roads in order to make more urban space.  Therefore cycling space must be created from pedestrian space.

The truth is that there is no way to manufacture more urban road space.  The only way to reduce congestion is to ration road space appropriately between cars, buses, trams, cyclists and pedestrians.  This may be done many ways - road pricing, bus lanes, speed cameras, tram lanes ... but it cannot be done at no cost to one subsection of road users or another.  Telling people it can is a BLACK LIE

Other arguments recycled by the cycle lobby for why they should grab more and more urban space off pedestrians and cars include insinuating it is a class issue and only the rich can afford cars ...

...well, two can play at that game.  It really isn't a class issue.  Or claiming that cycling is the prefered method of transport for old people ... despite the fact that very few people with brittle bones want to rely on a method of transport that relies entirely on angular momentum for stability.  When I pointed out to one person that the hilly nature of south London and the South Downs may be at odds with this argument I obtained the bizarre reply:

" A lot of elderly people in Europe, where proper cycling infrastructure has been put in place, buy electrically assisted bikes/trikes precisely for the hilly bits/bring back shopping." - Parimal Kumar

So actually the aim is not an end to motorised transport at all but an end to the car.  The electrically assisted bike counts as a pedal bike in the UK provided it cant do more than 15 mph.

Of course trikes are the solution to the stability problem of a two wheeled bike ... but the problem then is they take up more road space and you may as well have a rickshaw but for some reason ... Boris's love of pedal transport stops dead as door knocker at rickshaws.  Cab drivers?

The hate campaign against motorists also includes spreading lies such as that pedestrians and cyclists have a "right of way" but because motorists are licenced they "dont have a right of way ever" ... or pretending that motorists dont pay as much as cyclists for road upkeep despite the fact they pay road tax and a fortune in petrol tax.... well, over 60% of a litre.  We wont even go into the heresy that public transport may be subsidised through taxation.

The true political agenda of the campaign is simply not safety but the banishment of cars from urban space... related by a Mr John Hare here...

I asked him [Rod King] ...

...afterwards how he came to start the campaign and he said his revelation was in a town called Hilden in Germany. Rod is a member of the Warrington Cycle Campaign where he lives, and he had heard that in Hilden (Warington's twin town) nearly 30% of trips are made by bicycle (UK national average -2%). He decided to visit because he wanted to see the marvellous cycling facilities, lanes ASBs, preferential signals etc, but when he arrived he discovered there weren't any. None. Their total budget for cycling in the town was less than 10,000 euros (I think he said Warrington's was £150,000 per year) - and they struggled to spend it. What they had done was reduce motor trafficspeed, the rest just happened by itself. Obvious really.

The 20 mph speed limit is possible in Hilden without too many political disasters as it has only 57,000 inhabitants in a very small space - 10 square miles.   In contrast to the surrounding cities, it also has no suburban districts or incorporated villages.  

London in constrast has a massive urban sprawl and crams 12-14 million people in 607 square miles.  Also London has a population density of 13,466/sq mi compared to Hilden's population density of 5,538 /sq mi.  Imagining one city can operate the same policy as the other is simply absurd.  Here's a bubble plot of that ...

...where the
area of the bubbles represents the population desnity
x axis is the area the towns cover
and the
y axis is the population.

I would write something about the10th successive above-inflation rise in rail prices but I realise we must maintain the fiction that a £2000 a year travel card has got to be more cost efficient than simply buying a small car.

Pedestrian casualties 2001-09

  • Killed by cycles: 18
  • Seriously injured by cycles: 434
  • Killed by cars: 3,495
  • Seriously injured by cars: 46,245

Great Britain. Source: Department for Transport

Looks bad doesn't it ...?  However, if you look at the statistics in a bit more detail ...

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrians have been (a) injured, (b) seriously injured and (c) killed in collisions with (i) cars, (ii) all motor vehicles and (iii) cyclists in each of the last 10 years. [250454]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The numbers of pedestrians that were (a) injured, (b) seriously injured and (c) killed in collisions with (i) cars (ii) all motor vehicles and (iii) cyclists in reported personal injury road accidents in each of the last 10 years are given in the table:

Number of casualties

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


All injured

































All motor vehicles

All injured

































Pedal Cyclists

All injured

































1. All injured includes seriously injured and slightly injured casualties.

When you look at the relationship between deaths and serious injuries you see that

for every 10 serious injures caused by motor vehicles there is 1 death
for every 19 serious injuries caused by cyclists there is 1 death.

So actually making everyone cycle may reduce road death a bit but it's not going to magically put an end to road deaths.  Although you could argue it would reduce them by about 50%.

Also entertaining on the 20's plenty site is Professor of Geography Danny Dorling

...a dead ringer for the Master who explains that the number of people dying from road deaths is not on the increase

due to a decrease in other forms of

 then the
of road


 ...has increased accordingly as
road death is now a greater percentage of total deaths

In other words we should all drive more slowly not because we’ve become more dangerous as drivers but because the perception of the dangers has increased?  Isn’t that a witch hunt? 

He also tells us that if some cars go at 20 then other cars will have to go at 20.  Well, I've tried driving down Gypsy Hill road at 20 mph and someone always tries to overtake me which is surely more dangerous than if I was to drive as 25-30 mph.  So this is clearly drivel.  He also says it's not about road humps but about putting a twenty sticker over a thirty one ... well, on Gypsy Hill they've done both but the road's still wide enough for people to try and pass me going at 20 mph ... so this hasn't solved the problem just created another one of me being tailgated everywhere or people trying dangerous overtakes on me.  I get enough dangerous overtakes pootling round at 30 ... well ... 20 it's just going to be even worse.  Actually everyone's still driving down the road at 30 except me.  Calling it a 20 mph zone is just rebranding.

This of course is a major problem with the policy - enforcement.  The Portsmouth study showed that despite putting loads of 20 stickers all over Portsmouth actually road speeds only decreased by a pathetic 1.3mph, from 19.8mph to 18.5mph.  Despite this Islington Council enthuses that "Research has shown 20mph zones reduce speeds by an average of 9mph, where a 20mph limit on its own only reduces speed by 3mph and relies on driver discretion."

One cycling enthusiast informs me with enormous confidence that
"Limits are limits, they are not targets nor are they suggestions"

However, the new blanket 20 mph zones are not being implemented by speed cameras or bumps which mean that actually if you wanted to just drive at 20 then it's not very easy.  It isn't that there isn't the technology to force people to slow down or criminalise them for not slowing down the truth is that the government dont want to criminalise people for driving at 21 mph.  Or even 25 mph.

As Robert Peel might have said... Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.    Well, not much constancy, is there?  In having a 20 mph limit and refusing to police it?  But then the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.   And probably both the police and the local authorities know that if they were to suddenly reduce speed limits and mean it there'd be a bit of a public backlash...?  If long term the speeds dont significantly decrease will the government enforce this policy...?

The 20's plenty website is vomitworthily disingenuous about the sordid issue of enforcement.  Spouting waffle such as ...

"20mph speed limits are very much "community led and establishment endorsed". There is strong support from communities for lower speeds and with the recent increased police focus on community policing, police forces see that if accompanied by proper engagement and education with the public then 20mph limit can be enforced with a "light touch" and works within the long established British principle of "policing by consent"."

The trouble is I'm not part of your community.  I'm a traveler.  So what the community thinks means nothing to me.  The only thing that means anything to me is points on my licence.  Unless there are speed cameras and people are actually fined this isn't going to work no matter how much vapid waffle is vomited up about community, identity and stability.  However, that might cost politicians at the ballot box so they've opted for just shoving a lot of stickers up instead.  Clearly the 20's plenty group's attempts to get motorists actually fined for doing 21 mph has been met with some passive aggression from the PoPo because

"We have heard some police officers claiming that their equipment is not "type approved" for speeds of 20 mph. This may have applied to some older "radar" type detectors. The modern laser based systems are all "type approved" from 0 to 200+mph. Surely a sufficient range for a 20 mph speed limited road."

Kind of all a bit retarded isn't it? given that the government have removed public funding for speed cameras in order to fit with their election pledge to "end the war on motorists" ...?  So basically what they've done is to remove cameras and put up lots of 20 stickers.

...because of course when've spent several million pounds telling everyone to drive at 20 mph it's sensible to just turn a blind eye if they dont.

Maybe… or maybe it’s progress.  Whatever … Danny Dorling tells us confidently that most of Oxford has gone 20 mph and indeed it has.  But that’s because it’s a park and ride town where it’s impossible to park and impossible to park and ride during the hours of darkness unless you want to risk getting your head kicked in so successfully killing great chunks of the night time economy. 

Actually you can drive into the centre of Oxford after 6pm but then you can open a Chinese puzzle box.  As with Brighton the council dissuade motorists from driving into the centre of town by making it confusing … but not impossible.  Some of these people should, as we comedians have to, perhaps go to some of these places they hold up at a Utopia and try actually driving in them at night…? 

As this blog argues "The campaign website contrains some pretty persuasive arguments, yet critics of the nationwide 20’s Plenty campaign also offer up their own evidence.

They cite Bristol as an example, where following the introduction of some 20mph zones the number of Killed and Serious Injury (KSI) road accidents rose within the first year. Critics point to

Oxford where a quarter of a million quid was spent on such zones in 2009. The previous year there had been 61 KSI cases. This rose to 71 in 2009 and to 72 in 2010.

In Warrington, during a trial for a year and a half, they say KSI cases increased by two-thirds

Of course road safety is a mass of selectively presented statistics by all lobby goups.  The answer of local government and Twenty's Plenty to why KSIs have gone up in 20 mph zones is that nobody has done a proper study of the number of miles of 20mph road vs the number of deaths on such roads.  This may be true but it's a bit ridiculous to spend half a million pounds putting up 20 mph sings all over a local authority and then not know exactly how many miles of road actually are 20 mph.  Dont these people have a ruler?  Of course if you dont know how many miles of road are 20 mph you presumably dont know how many miles of road are 30 mph either. 

The selective quotation and manipulation of statistics by both sets of lobby groups would put Sir Humphrey Appleby to shame... famous tricks include asking people whether they would like to be able to cycle more without pointing out to people that you intend to achieve this reality of more people cycling by sacrificing car road space for cycling road space ................or by intensive pedestrianisation.

So will anyone actually be given points for going 21 mph?

Asked during their consultations if whether when they've spent 3 years putting up 20 mph signs they'll actually legally enforce their zone Brighton Council said well sort of no but ...

"It is hoped that 20mph limits will be adhered to.
In exceptional circumstances enforcement maybe carried out

Of course one problem is that, to avoid driver confusion, road signs are designed only to display speeds that are rounded to the nearest 10 mph.  So you can have 10, 20, 30. 40, 70 mph signs but not 25 mph signs.  On the continent where speeds are expressed in km/h this rounding of numbers allows for more speed limit graduations as a km is less than a mile.  On UK roads it's all a bit clunky.

Still never mind ...

Convinced it will reduce road deaths Danny Dorling also comes out with a classic line that the great thing about 20 mph zones is ….

it’s the cheapest possible thing you can do”. 

Clever man – he knows his politicians.  But cheap for who?   Because for people like me … I think it’s expensive.  For the government it may be cheap but will it be cheap for business?   And as far as I’m concerned I do trump community need.  The needs of Mr Miller outweigh the needs of the many.  And actually changing every sign from 30 to 20 and putting in regular repeaters isn't actually as cheap as it might first seem?

Norman Baker states that "'For a child being hit at 30mph and 20mph is the difference between life and death.  But this is also about making our town centres more attractive places to live and work, and reducing carbon emissions by encouraging people to cycle or walk"

In other words it's not all about  ... all but meeting Britian's international obligations to reduce carbon emissions.  Or at least to be seen to be reducing carbon emissions.  Having lots of 20 mph zones and not actually enforcing them makes the government look as though it is doing something about pollution without it actually doing anything.  Horay.  The truth is simpler.  The government want to pedestrianise more and more of our town centers and they want the plebs to be driving less ... because there are "too many cars on the road"... yet they still want us to buy cars just go less places in them?

Or as the Department of Transport puts it in its consultation documents...

"Further benefits of 20 mph schemes include quality of life and community benefits, encouragement of healthier and more sustainable transport modes such as walking and cycling. There may also be environmental benefits, as generally, driving more slowly at a steady pace will save fuel and carbon dioxide emissions, unless an unnecessarily low gear is used."

...we are to be socially engineered to not travel by car to save the planet and anti-social comedians who drive 100s of miles to talk nonsense in pubs can get stuffed as that is fundamentally anti-social.  Still, the oil is running out so maybe we should just get used to it.  Time to spend more time in the community socialising in the public places of our town centers.  After all Croydon has more dispersal zones than any other town - maybe I should spend more time enjoying them.

The pro-cycling lobby argue that enforcement will happen when the majority of the law abiding population decide to drive at 20 mph forcing everyone else to drive at 20 mph.  When one points out to them that actually that is simply going to end up with more and more dangerous overtakes unless the 20 mph limit is enforced they simply go into denial stating drivel like:

" You think lowering speed limits in residential roads is a waste of time and money. Many people, backed up by empirical evidence, think it's a good idea because it will lead to safer, quieter roads, hopefully encouraging more people to walk/cycle to local shops, etc. 20mph limits will happen nationally (8m residents already have it), albeit slowly. I don't expect a change in driver behaviour from the law abiding majority immediately, but it will change over time"

You will notice they cannot resist leaking their social engineering message encouraging more people to walk/cycle to local shops into every conversation

The problem with the 20's plenty's statement that this is a green issue is however unfortuanety twaddle ... The US government did tonnes of research into the optimum driving speed years ago in the 1970s and for many years the US national speed limit was a boredom inducing 55 mph ...

Comedian Del Strain who used to be notorious for his individual approach to driving discovered this same fact by trial and error...

...and now drives everywhere at 55mph.  Anyway what the US government stats tell us is that while driving over 55 mph is hugely energy inefficient ... so is driving under 30 up to 40%.  Actually driving too slowly is bad for the environment?  But no lie is too egregious for the 20's plenty movement.  In order to counter the basic and obvious fact that cars are less efficient and more polluting when driven slower 20's plenty have come up with a plethora of half explanations and half truths worthy of Joseph Stalin.

1) Firstly they state that "When 30km/h (18.6 mph) zones were introduced in Germany, car drivers changed gear 12% less often, braked 14% less often and required 12% less fuel".  However they cite a theoretical study document from 1990 AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO TRAFFIC CALMING Friends of the Earth, London. January 1990. C Hass-Klau ...not an empirical study of actual traffic movement in a 20mph zone.  The assumption is that people will stop and start less and that there will be less congestion in 20mph zones and that this will cause the increased pollution and fuel inefficiency to magically vanish.

2) Then they state that the reason the facts dont fit their story is the ... Choice of gear and driving style, not the number on the speed limit sign, most affect fuel us.  DfT guidance states, “Generally, driving more slowly at a steady pace saves fuel and carbon dioxide emissions, unless an unnecessarily low gear is used”.  Basically this is an assertion that it can work if we all drive in the wrong gear all the time...?

3) Most Continental European towns enjoy a 18.6mph limit (30km) which supports road safety and sustainable transport.  Stop/go driving is typical in urban areas. Distances drivers could legally and safely go at 30mph is limited by traffic lights, crossings, congestion, junctions and pedestrian and cyclist numbers.  20mph limits cut unnecessary acceleration and braking and improve traffic flow.  This is the old - You cant drive at 30 now so it wont  bother you if you cant in the future argument.  Obviously nonsense as if this is true why are they campaigning to change the speed limit at all?  It is indeed possible to control traffic flow with traffic lights, humps etc so why do we need to lower the speed limit to 20 as well?

The statement that "Most Continental European towns enjoy a 18.6mph limit (30km)" is also untrue.  The urban speed limits in Europe are actually

Belgium 50 kmph (30 in downtown Brussels and Antwerp)
Coatia 50 kmph
Czech Repulic 50 kmph
Germany 50 kmph
France 50 kmph
Germany 50 kmph
Greece 50 kmph
Ireland 30-50 kmph
Italy 50-70 kmph
Netherlands 30-50 kmph
Poland 50-60 kmph
Romania 50-70 kmph
Spain 50 kmph
UK 48 kmph (30 mph)

The truth is that it is only in the UK that the government are retarded enough to even think about blanket unenforced 20 mph speed limits for ALL urban areas.  Yet, despite this Twenty's plenty's founder Rod King states

It is in the area of residential speed limits and road user liability that the UK most differs from its Northern European neighbours. No wonder that in Britain the roads are twice as dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists as in the Netherlands (SUN Report).

Well, I had a look at wikipedia for
Road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year, ranked them in order and for some reason the Netherlands was at 173 while Britain was at 176:

Road fatalities
per 100,000
inhabitants per year

 Romania 84.9 1
 Eritrea 48.4 2
 Cook Islands 45 3
 Egypt 42 4
 Libya 40.5 5
 Afghanistan 39 6
 Iraq 38.1 7
 Angola 37.7 8
 Niger 37.7 9
 United Arab Emirates 37.1 10
 The Gambia 36.6 11
 Iran 35.8 12
 Mauritania 35.5 13
 Ethiopia 35 14
 Sudan 34.7 15
 Tunisia 34.5 16
 Guinea-Bissau 34.4 17
 Kenya 34.4 18
 Chad 34.3 19
 United Republic of Tanzania 34.3 20
 Jordan 34.2 21
 Botswana 33.8 22
 Madagascar 33.7 23
 South Africa 33.2 24
 Sao Tome and Principe 33 25
 Liberia 32.9 26
 Syrian Arab Republic 32.9 27
 Senegal 32.5 28
 Nigeria 32.3 29
 Central African Republic 32.2 30
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 32.2 31
 Mali 32.1 32
 Rwanda 31.6 33
 Benin 31.2 34
 Burkina Faso 31.1 35
 Kazakhstan 30.6 36
 Comoros 30.3 37
 Ghana 29.6 38
 Yemen 29.3 39
 Saudi Arabia 29 40
 Republic of the Congo 28.8 41
 Namibia 28.6 42
 Lebanon 28.5 43
 Morocco 28.3 44
 Sierra Leone 28.3 45
 Cameroon 28.1 46
 Togo 28.1 47
 Zimbabwe 27.5 48
 Lesotho 26.7 49
 Swaziland 26.3 50
 Malawi 26 51
 Zambia 25.6 52
 Pakistan 25.3 53
 Cape Verde 25.1 54
 Uganda 24.7 55
 Malaysia 24.1 56
 Qatar 23.7 57
 Burundi 23.4 58
 Myanmar 23.4 59
 Kyrgyzstan 22.8 60
 Venezuela 21.8 61
 British Virgin Islands 21.7 62
 Peru 21.5 63
 Ukraine 21.5 64
 Oman 21.3 65
 World 20.8 66
 Mexico 20.7 67
 Philippines 20 68
 Brazil 19.9 69
 Guyana 19.9 70
 Paraguay 19.7 71
 Thailand 19.6 72
 Turkmenistan 18.6 73
 Vanuatu 18.6 74
 Russia 18.5 75
 Seychelles 18.5 76
 Laos 18.3 77
 Maldives 18.3 78
 Latvia 17.9 79
 Saint Lucia 17.6 80
 Dominican Republic 17.3 81
 Kuwait 16.9 82
 Solomon Islands 16.9 83
 Georgia 16.8 84
 Bolivia 16.7 85
 Indonesia 16.2 86
 Timor-Leste 16.1 87
 Vietnam 16.1 88
 Suriname 15.8 89
 Belize 15.6 90
 Trinidad and Tobago 15.5 91
 Costa Rica 15.4 92
 Nepal 15.1 93
 Republic of Moldova 15.1 94
 Lithuania 14.8 95
 Palau 14.8 96
 Guatemala 14.7 97
 Montenegro 14.6 98
 Bahamas 14.5 99
 Mongolia 14.5 100
 Bhutan 14.4 101
 Greece 14.4 102
 Federated States of Micronesia 14.4 103
 Nicaragua 14.2 104
 Papua New Guinea 14.2 105
 Tajikistan 14.1 106
 Albania 13.9 107
 Armenia 13.9 108
 Brunei Darussalam 13.8 109
 Argentina 13.7 110
 Chile 13.7 111
 Honduras 13.5 112
 Sri Lanka 13.5 113
 Turkey 13.4 114
 Azerbaijan 13 115
 Puerto Rico 12.8 116
 Samoa 12.8 117
 Uruguay 12.8 118
 Republic of Korea 12.7 119
 Panama 12.7 120
 Bangladesh 12.6 121
 El Salvador 12.6 122
 Jamaica 12.3 123
 United States of America 12.3 124
 Barbados 12.2 125
 Bahrain 12.1 126
 Cambodia 12.1 127
 Colombia 11.7 128
 Ecuador 11.7 129
 India 11.1 130
 Mauritius 11.1 131
 Belarus 10.9 132
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10.9 133
 Poland 10.7 134
 Cyprus 10.4 135
 Czech Republic 10.4 136
 Slovenia 10.4 137
 Belgium 10.1 138
 Hungary 9.9 139
 Nauru 9.9 140
 Serbia 9.8 141
 Uzbekistan 9.7 142
 Tuvalu 9.5 143
 Canada 9.2 144
 Croatia 9.1 145
 Luxembourg 9 146
 Bulgaria 8.8 147
 Italy 8.7 148
 Cuba 8.6 149
 New Zealand 8.6 150
 Austria 8.2 151
 Portugal 7.9 152
 Estonia 7.5 153
 Denmark 7.4 154
 Kiribati 7.4 155
 Slovakia 7.1 156
 Fiji 7 157
 Mozambique 7 158
 Tonga 7 159
 France 6.9 160
 Republic of Macedonia 6.9 161
 Spain 6.9 162
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6.6 163
 Finland 6.5 164
 Australia 5.71 165
 Palestinian territories 5.6 166
 Norway 5.4 167
 Israel 5.2 168
 China 5.1 169
 Singapore 4.8 170
 Switzerland 4.7 171
 Germany 4.5 172
 Netherlands 4.1 173
 Japan 3.85 174
 Iceland 3.8 175
 United Kingdom 3.59 176
 Ireland 3.51 177
 Malta 3.4 178
 San Marino 3.2 179
 Sweden 2.9 180
 Marshall Islands 1.7 181

This conference goes to the heart of those differences and will identify the real progress that is being made on 20 mph speed limits and the best way forward on other matters. Public opinion is moving away from the idea that the personal motor vehicle should be the only mode of transport available to citizens. This conference reflects on this changing culture and looks how to best meet the aspirations of the public to be able to walk or cycle on our roads without fear.

It is true the Germans and the Netherlands have experimented with some 30 kmph zones but this is because the Germans have no motorway speed limit at all and the Netherlands have a completely different population density distribution. 

The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in the world.  But still nowhere near as densely populated  as a major city in the UK like London...'s a picture I stole off the internet to prove it.  Simply supplanting statistical data from one area of Europe to another without reference to any population density distribution data as the cycling lobby are wont to do is obviosly nonsense. 

Cllr Adam Kellett who according to the Croydon Cycling Campaign
should, despite being elected, have no influence over cycling issues
because he is a Taxi Driver and this is clearly anti-democratic
He should declare his interest as a taxi driver which he has clearly concealed
by writing on the Croydon Conservatives website that he is and has been
a taxi driver for 25 years.

Many of the extremist elements in the pro-cycling lobby are actually a mirror image of the kind of motorists who believe on some point of insane principle that there should be no speed limits at all.  For example the Croydon Cycling campaign seriously argues that ... "that a taxi driver " [Cllr Adam Kellett of Ashburton] "could be permitted to have influence over a decision relating to cycling, or road governance at all, is utterly anti-democratic. Such biased governance is not acceptable.  He clearly has a conflict of interest"

What is true is that German MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch recently produced a policy paper stating on behalf of the Parliament's Transport Committee that it would be spiffing if everyone just drove slower and the EU had a unified highway code.

4) A report from Belgium concluded "It is unlikely that imposing strict speed limits in urban areas has a significant influence on emissions of NOx or CO2."  Again this is supposition not hard data.  One doesn't need to call in Poirot to know that if you look hard enough you can find an EU white paper saying practically anything is good.

5) High vehicle speeds are the greatest deterrent to walking and cycling instead of driving. In Hilden, Germany, the percentage of in‐town trips made by bicycle increased to 23% after the introduction of an 18.6 mph residential limit. Britain’s default 30 mph limit is 60% higher than most Northern European towns where far more citizens enjoy the opportunity to walk and cycle in greater safety. UK pedestrians form a greater percentage of road fatalities (22.5%) than any other EU country.  In other words the real aim is one of social engineering - to force people to ride bikes - not safety.  The deduction that pollution and energy usage will decrease is based on the assumption that people will switch to a different mode of transport - this is the doctrine of traffic evaporation ...see below.

6) The AA’s report, Fuel For Thought (Jan 2008) “accepts that targeted 20 mph speed limits in residential areas are popular and improve safety. Along shorter roads with junctions and roundabouts, limiting acceleration to up to 20 mph reduces fuel consumption"... Note that the AA didn't say that blanket 20mph zones which is what 20's plenty campaign for are a good idea.

7) Research from the ETA found that cyclists and walkers face pollution levels two thirds lower than inside a car. Drivers and their passengers face three times more fumes because they sit in the pollution tunnel in the centre of the road, breathing poisons from vehicles in front.  Research from the Environmental Transport Association anti-car lobby group ... discovered that cars a bad because car drivers spend less time than them on the road.  If you make more people cycle but dont hugely reduce car use you're actually exposing more people to pollution.

8) Road Traffic produces one fifth of carbon dioxide, over half of nitrogen dioxide and over 75% of carbon monoxide emissions in the UK. (DETR Winter smog/summer smog 1998 July)By this point the reader is so bored they've forgotten that the actual point was will driving at 20 mph increase or decrease this statistic. 

The object of Twenty's Plenty is not to save the planet by making driving more energy efficient it is simply to stop people driving.

Governments of all hues want us to use public transport more to save energy but all the statistics show that this is a very uphill struggle indeed...

According to the RAC

"This growth in ownership has fundamentally changed our lives. The freedoms a car brings have given us greater choice in where we live and work, and how we spend our time.

Year Percentage
1956 22%
1986 62%
1966 45%
1996 70%
1976 55%
2006 77%

The figures show a huge growth in motoring. Since 1988:

  • The number of households with a car grew by 39%, from 14 to 19.5 million
  • The number of households with 2 or more cars grew by 95%, from 4.3 to 8.4 million
  • The total number of drivers grew by 29%, from 26.1 to 33.7 million
  • The number of women drivers grew by 50%, from 10.2 to 15.3 million
  • The total number of vehicles on our roads grew by 46%, from 23.3 to 34.0 million
  • The number of cars on our roads grew by 49%, from 18.9 to 28.2 million"
So in order to get everyone out their cars the government is spending a lot of money putting up 20 mph signs.  The real message of which is that short car journeys are anti-social ...but selling it as a safety policy?

Of course not everyone is sold on the safety aspects of the policy.  In York the blanket 20 mph zones have been opposed by amongst others Mike Natt a former Police Accident Investigator who states that while statistically, people were less likely to be killed if hit by a vehicle travelling at 20mph than by one at 30mph, ...
this does not tell the whole story”, said Mr Natt.

At lower speeds, in the 20mph to 30mph range, the pedestrian is rolled on to the bonnet, then knocked forwards and away as the vehicles brakes.

Mr Natt said: “At speeds of 12mph or less, however, the pedestrian is pushed forwards down on to the road ahead of the vehicle, which then runs over them, causing serious injury or even death. Children, due to their height, are even more at risk.

Suggesting each collision is different, with factors such as location and whether an adult or child was involved affecting the outcome.

Mr Natt, an independent collisions investigator who served for nearly 30 years in North Yorkshire Police’s traffic department, filing reports on hundreds of fatal accidents, even had the nerve to come out with the most awful blasphamy that:

"pedestrians sticking to the Green Cross Code would save more lives than “20’s Plenty"”.

The old Green Cross code

It is, of course, always the fault of the driver when pedestrians get run over - none of them are simply retarded.

While Steve Galloway

the former Liberal Democrat leader of the council said "I, and the party, continue to oppose a city-wide 20mph limit.  We favour the policy of having the most appropriate speed limit bearing in mind individual characteristics of individual roads, based on the fact that it would be very expensive to implement, with figures of £600,000 quoted.  The money would be better spent continuing the council’s previous successful work reducing the number of people killed and injured on York’s roads, not only to ensure the correct speed limit was applied, but the money would be invested in engineering works to ensure roads were safer and where appropriate to enforce existing speed limits.” 

He hasn't been to the Liberal Democrat conference then.

While York Labour's Anna Semlyen (who also works for 20's plenty) appealed to people's lack of greed by stating that "Property prices rise by up to 11 per cent as speeds decrease by five to ten mph." followed by the usual black lie that "And in urban conditions 20mph limits do not affect journey times."  Clearly if you make everyone drive slower journey times will become longer.

Ms Semlyen is very into green things and was investigated after securing public money to stage an eco-home event – while earning £200 a time from a solar panel firm.

The lie that longer journey times reduce congestion and the implication that this results in shorter journey times are frequently wheeled out.  For example "where 30kph zones have been introduced in Germany, drivers spend 15% less time sitting stationary in their vehicles".  All this actually means is that the drivers spend more time in the middle of the roads than at the ends.  "Congestion" has been reduced simply by making everything move slower.  However, a road that less congested is not automatically a road that is more effective.  Also even if it does work in parts of the continent it has to be said that they do have on the whole smaller towns and cities and a much lower population density.

Even the 20's plenty site admits that journey times will be longer "by 40 seconds" so why do they simultaneously attempt to argue that journey times will be shorter?

Answer : they're a bunch of lying cyclists serving only their own needs and desires?  Talk about two faced.  If you want to make journey times longer the least you can do is be honest about it. 

For example I drove down Gypsy Hill Road at 30 mph and 20 mph - that's about half a mile.  The difference is 30 seconds.  To get to where I want to go in Norwood I have to traverse at least one other 20 mph road meaning that actually my local journey time has been increased by a minute and I have yet to see this reflected in any "lack of congestion" on the main roads or at junctions ... or indeed on Gypsy Hill its self.  Now to be fair reading the consultation document on the imposition of the 20mph zone everyone in Gypsy Hill seemed to be in favour and it may indeed be safer.  But if you want me to agree that it hasn't made my journey time longer ..... welll, that would seem to be a BLACK LIE.

Since 1988 the total amount of car miles driven has  increased by 32%, from 190 to 250 billion per year.

To put that in perspective that's enough to drive to the moon and back.  While it's true it might be a good idea for most of us to drive less ... a 2003 survey found that outside the capital only 11% of people get to work by public transport and just 5% of commuting is by national rail. 

In the final quarter of 2009, around 3 in 5, or 59 per cent of all workers in the UK worked and lived in the same local authority district. The remaining,
41 per cent, worked in a different local authority district from the one in which they lived.

Duration of commute from home to work by region of workplace, October-December 2009, United Kingdom

  London   Rest of UK   All UK
1-15 min 18
16-30 min 26
31-45 min 20
46-60 min 20
60+ min 16   3   5
source: Labour Force Survey

Table source: Office for National Statistics

The 2003 survey also found Britrains already have some of the longest commutes in Europe - averaging 45 minutes.  The average distance travelled by UK workers is 8.5 miles.  This means that if you made it 50% longer by reducing the speed of traffic by 1/3  you would increase the length of the average commute from 17 minutes to 25.5. 
This means the average commute would get 8.5 minutes longer

Even using 20's Plenty's figures it would get 1 minute 20 seconds longer (40 seconds each way). 

If the average commuter commutes 225 times a year (basically 45 weeks (52-holidays) * 5 days this means you are asking each person to waste between 31 and 5 hours extra of their lives a year.  If we multiply those figures by the UK's 29 million workers that equates to between
889,000,000 and 145,000,000 extra hours commuting
At the National Minimum wage  of £6.19 per hour if you paid people for that extra time out of their lives then that would equate to

£5,502,910,000 and £897,550,000
Cost to the economy?

Bear in mind this is the most optomistic estimate based on a model where every worker's time is only worth the National Minimum Wage.  If we use a more realistic figure like the average wage in 2006 of £12.50 an hour ... that's more like

£11,112,500,000 and £1,812,500,000
Cost to the economy?

2011 figures show the average worker spends nearly 200 hours a year commuting to and from work.  You dont really have to do much maths to realise that the least an 40 second increase in commuting would cost is a billion pounds.  Even if it were possible to decrease the number of road deaths to an absolute zero ...would this actually be socially desirable given the economic costs and, of course, the costs that cannot be calculated in the time taken away from day to day social and family life that is to be replaced with sitting in a car for longer or cycling alone...?  As Jim Bowen might  have said

There's no doubt many safety measures like banning smoking in public places may save a lot of lives but they are not cost free to everybody.

Also, I mean ... it is 2012 ..., isn't it?  Call me mad but I had this idea that in the future travel might be faster rather than slower?  It isn't like there isn't technology out there that could allow us to drive faster but more safely?  I mean I've seen Back to the Future Part II and there are definitely flying cars as soon as 2015? What went wrong?

The government could insist on speed limiters in cars .... Royal Mail vans have ... or GPS tracking or number plate tracking of bad drivers as happens on motorways (or a combination of all of these ?) but that would incur the immediate wrath of Jeremy Clarkson and the motoring lobby....?  Or cost money?  Or be dismissed as a human rights violation.........?

Jeremy Clarkson - the epitome of evil?

Still radar for cars that's science fiction, innit?

Not suprisingly when a 20 mph speed limit was proposed for Camden

Keith Peat, regional coordinator of the Association of British Drivers, said changing the speed limit was counter productive because "drivers who would have selected a slower speed naturally would now be more concerned about getting points and focussing on the speedometer instead of their windscreens, watching out for pedestrians and children".

But then you'd expect him to say that, wouldn't you?  Although he did also offer a slightly more positive:

"The road safety evidence on 20mph areas now seems very mixed and contradictory.  The IAM has always expressed concern that such areas were being seen as a magic bullet to stop all accidents when this had never been clearly proven.  Traffic calming is popular when done well and in consultation with local residents. In our view the main benefits of 20mph zones are health and environmental improvements. The jury is still out on their wider road safety success."

It's also good to see too that Rod King's lack of greed doesn't extend to not taking money from ETA Green Breakdown cover who sell cycling insurance and therefore have a vested commercial interest in spreading fear of cars.  The Environmental Transport Association have been funding a 20's plenty campaign of some kind via a trust or even directly since the 1990s.  The ETA even runs a ...

...which cannot be satirised by the comedy circuit as obviously no one will be able to get to anyone else's town to make jokes about it.

Of course it wouldn't be so bad if other forms of transport ran 24/7 ...? 

There's a reason they dont of course.  Many reasons but a good way of understanding them is to think not about cars, trains, bikes or bussess ... but about the the actual physics of travel.  

There are 4 basic laws of thermodynamics.  They are:

Zeroth law of thermodynamics: If two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a third system, they must be in thermal equilibrium with each other. This law helps define the notion of temperature.

First law of thermodynamics: Heat and work are forms of energy transfer. Energy is invariably conserved but the internal energy of a closed system changes as heat and work are transferred in or out of it.

Second law of thermodynamics: The entropy of any isolated system not in thermal equilibrium almost always increases.

Third law of thermodynamics: The entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches zero.

The ones that concers us most with regard to travel are the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics about entropy and energy transfer.  In the early days of transport systems two basic discoveries were made (almost without anyone thinking about it) that are basically the result of these two laws of thermodynamics.  The first was that if you can reduce friction then you can negate entropy and travel further with less energy.  So people started to notice that if you put trains on tracks you can go further with less effort ...

And the second was that if you can generate your energy centrally it's substantially cheaper.   So when the tram was invented by Fyodor Pirotsky in 1880 in Saint Petersburg, Russia ... the energy efficiency of railed veichles was added to enormously ... by the invention of pantograph (or trolley pole).  

This is the rotary engine of a thermal power station... you can see it is very big and heavy.  In electricity energy generation fuel is burnt (or nuclear material decayed) to create power.  However, not all thermal energy can be transformed into mechanical power, according to the second law of thermodynamics.  So a few large power stations are always more efficient than lots of and lots of small ones.  A power station is basically a kind of steam engine designed to convert the resultant kinetic energy to electricity in order to enable wider power distribution.

The efficiency of any steam turbine is limited mostly by the maximum temperature of the steam produced and is not directly a function of the fuel used.  If you could generate all the energy to be used by every vehicle centrally in one massive power station then ... it would be a number of magnitudes more efficient than a petrol engine which generates power locally.  But how many...?

The first steam cars (basically steam trains that were not on tracks) were hugely inefficient compared with the efficiency that power stations could deliver to trams as they are basically the equivalent of trying to build yourself a mini power station under the bonnet of your car (as shown above).  This is very difficult because cars dont have a river nearby to supply the lower end of the energy differential.  As a result such engines were increadibly heavy as they had to carry their own water...

... this was also a limitation with steam trains.  The water to generate the steam was very heavy to carry - this problem was partially solved with rail transport by water pickup points along the line.   Even so it wasn't till the 1920s  that internal combustion engines were improved enough to be totally competative with steam cars.

Even if you could make a small steam turbine that was as efficient as a huge steam turbine you would hit the problem of how to get rid of your waste heat.  The electrical efficiency of thermal power plants is defined as the ratio between the input and output energy.  This is why power stations need cooling towers and to be by rivers or the sea.  The sea/river provides the low side of the energy differential.

Since you cant put a river inside a car ...steam cars were never going to be as energy efficient as trams - even if you made them run on tracks to overcome the energy differential.  This problem was, of course, also the driving force behind the eventual electrification of the rail network.  So another solution was needed.  This was the internal combustion engine.

...instead of burning the fuel in a huge pile to heat a boiler to make steam ...which is turning

chemical energy into heat energy and then heat energy into kinetic energy...

by exploding a highly volatile chemical you can turn

chemical energy directly into kinetic energy

cutting out the middle step of generating heated steam.  Of course heat is also generated by the explosion but in a smaller proportion.  This makes the internal combustion engine more competative against rail transport.

Of course the fantasy replacement to a petrol, deisel or horse driven vehicle is the electric car... unfortunately for years peanuts was invested in battery technology so they looked like this ...

... until George W bush invested a load of money in hydrogen fuel cell technology instead...

...meaning buses can be 40% more efficient and look like this

Anyway the point I think I'm driving at is that for all the advantages of rail transport systems they must by definition and the laws of physics suffer one inherant disadvantage over the internal combusion engine - they have to travel along pre-determined routes to overcome friction and connect to their power source.  The energy savings from the reduction in friction are offset by the poltical problem that in order to make a train service financially efficient it has to be running at a reasonable capacity most of the time. 

The main  reasons why comedians have such a hard time with rail networks is they work at anti-social times when the rail system doesn't run.  And the rail system doesn't run at these times because it would be hugely financially inefficient.  Have I said this before?  Probably.

Intercity rail networks usually stop outside London at 11pm unless they are on an airport route like the East Croydon Gatwick line.  The reason there aren't many night trains is that there isn't enough demand for them and they would be hugely financially inefficient to run as a result.  The logistics of the live comedy circuit are almost by definition in intrinsic opposition to the public transport system.... having all your gigs in the same physical location at sociable times would be absurd and uncompetative and public transport requires a level of social conformity in order to operate.  It is not an accident many regular paying gigs are on the fringes of the public transport system ... .  That said there are still some sleeper services to Cornwall and Scotland etc I believe... but not very many.

In order to make the rail network rational you have to run many services on branch lines that are under-capacity most of the time ...financed by the most popular routes.  Commuters in London and on the popular long distance routes basically finance the rest of the nework.  Basically the solution to the inefficieny of outlying branch lines is rail pricing.  However, even rail pricing has its limitations as it can be circumvented by Ebenezer Lewis's favourite passtime "split ticketing".  Ebenezer Lewis at Money Hoarding Expert pretends not to know why split ticketing is cheaper than buying an equivalent long distance ticket but ...we do.

Rail pricing is like road pricing.  You charge a premium for the most popular trains at the most popular times.  The journey to Manchester from London may have got shorter but as the demand for the most popular service times has not changed ...I still have to leave at the same time to make it cost effective meaning I just spend more time wandering the streets at the other end instead of sitting in a warm train.  This is known as the "Dr Beeching problem"...

Headhunted from ICI by Harold MacMillan in 1961 Beching cut 4,000 route miles on cost and efficiency grounds, leaving Britain with 13,721 miles (22,082 km) of railway lines in 1966. A further 2,000 miles (3,200 km) were lost by the end of the 1960s.  Beeching proposed that the inefficient branch lines should be replaced with inefficient bus services.  In the end both the Conservatives and Labour's Barbera Castle simply axed lots of railways lines without providing the replacement bus services.  Beeching's plan was criticised for cutting inefficient lines which were needed to make travel on the main routes more attractive by offering more destinations without the user having to switch to a different mode of transport at thte other end.  Beeching's cuts are still controversial today.

However, Beeching was not the only person to have it in for rail transport.  Prior to the Beeching Axe in the 1960s London and many other cities tram systems were also axed by Clement Attlee.  Between 1946 to 1952 Charles Latham, 1st Baron Latham of the London Transport Exceutive (pictured above) set out scrap ALL of London's tram network on the basis that ALL trams were ALL awful in the name of "progress".

Finding out anything about London's pre-war tram system was very difficult indeed but probably the best document on its scrapping is The Campaign To Save the London Trams 1946-1952 Based on the Collected Papers Of The late Alan John Watkins By Ann E. Watkins available here.... which contrains this photo of what the pre war network actually looked like.  

The London Transport Executive’s argument for abandoning trams was that they caused traffic congestion in so much as they run on tracks, so they could not swerve to avoid other vehicles thus resulting in a traffic jam.  The supporters of the tram argued that as trams ran along parallel lines, they would impose road discipline onto other vehicles.  There was much concern about the overall safety of tram travel, especially for cyclists because the front wheel of the cycle would catch the edge of the track and the cyclists would be thrown off.

In 1952, at the time of the abandonment of the trams, The Economist dated 5th July 1952 published an article entitled: A Street car named Defunct wherein the reasons for tramway abandonment were listed:

• Trams were not allowed to run in the West End of London.

• Prejudice against trams.

• Limited allowance of trams into the City.

• With its narrow streets, London was not like continental cities.

• 1870 Tramways Act, which stipulated that the road between the rails and pavement 18 inches either side had to be maintained by the operating powers.

• Housing developments which were away from tram routes made tramway extension expensive.

Continental cities did not have the same amount of urban sprawl.
Therefore, tramways were economically viable.

This final point is crucial.  The modern Croydon tram system and the Docklands light railway work because they are restricted to outlying suburbs with low population density and for the most part do not share road space with high volumes of pedestrian traffic. 

Devotees of modern tram system will notice that as far as possible they are designed to avoid their mingling with other forms of traffic. 

The Croydon tramlink was relatively cheap to construct (although it took 4 years) as it uses bits of what were mainline rail network alongside formerly abandoned lines including the former British Rail branch line to Addiscombe, the former Woodside and South Croydon Railway and the former Southern Iron Railway.  Investment in new infrastructure therefore,  though not insignificant, was relatively minimal.  The reason the tram system will never extend to Sutton or Richmond is that this would include building substantial chunks of new infrastructure and a large number of CPOs.  The resultant new service is much better utilised than the failed branch lines from which it was created as they now form a cohesive network.  Extending the line to New Addington was relatively easy as it is a new town dating back only to the 1930s when it was constructed from scratch from Castle Hill, Addington Lodge and Fisher's farms in a previously isolated area of Surrey/London.  Prior to Tramlink New Addington was disparagingly described as "little Siberia" due to its appauling lack of transport links.  Thus major CPOs of highly densely populated land were not required to build the tram line to it.

As to pre-war trams ... The concept of scrapping the entire pre-war tram network is traced back in the The Campaign To Save the London Trams 1946-1952 (see above) as far back as 1933.  The London Passenger Transport Act of 1933 Section 23 stated that:

Subject to the provisions of this section The Board may abandon either in whole or in part any tramway forming part of their undertaking.  At least three months before the date on which any such abandonment is to take effect the Board shall give notice of the proposed abandonment and the date upon which that abandonment is to take effect to the highway authority responsible for the road on or above which the tramway is laid or erected.  Upon any such abandonment the Board may, and if so required by the responsible highway authority, shall, within a period not exceeding three months from the date upon which the abandonment takes effect or such longer period as the highway authority may allow, take up, remove and dispose or the rails, conduits, paving setts, posts, poles, wires and other works used or provided for the purpose of the tramway so abandoned (in this section collectively referred to as “tramway equipment”....... 

Unfortunately junking the whole infrastructure and replacing the entire tram system did not prove as cost effective as orginally thought and a huge increase in bus fares was machinated to pay for it.  Busses were favoured for many reasons - including the asthetic ...

The erection of trolley poles and overhead wires would have to include Westminster Bridge and the Embankment, which were both close to the Houses of Parliament. This would result in a loss of civic amenity in the heart of the capital.

... snapping wires and noise.  Pre war trams were not maintained with the level of the modern systems like the Croydon Tramlink or DLR nor did they have their own specialised infrastructure...

The tram will never go to Crystal Palace
this would involve spending money

...they shared the roads with cars everywhere which was a disaster...

There are many places in London with single tracks, which are a single nightmare to the police; and don’t you agree that the overhead wires are an eyesore. Parts of Beresford Square and many other centres are covered with miles of these ugly overheads – which are constantly breaking and causing more traffic delays.  No sir, I think the day of the tram has finished and more vehicle traffic is needed. The modern bus is beautiful to travel in and is very much faster and more mobile.  Incidentally, I notice you live in a quiet road- 25 years in my house has nearly driven me deaf – we cannot sleep at nights with the windows open and at times we can hardly hear the wireless. So roll on the buses!

...since the tram system didn't extend into Zone 1 trams became seen as 2nd class transport service for second class people in the suburbs and despite some very nice public transport posters this was an imagine problem that created a lack of political and financial investment that eventually killed the service. 

The pre-war tram nework also suffered with being too sprawling an ill concieved from the beginning.  Like the pre-Beeching rail network much of it had been built in a hurry without any over-arching plan.  This meant extending the network would have been extremely complicated and as it didn't go right into central London to avoid mixing too many trams with too much pedestrian and motorised traffic ...changeovers with other forms of public transport were complicated.  Perhaps one reason that trams were not allowed into central London was that as research in The Netherlands pointed out ...for every driven kilometer by tram, serious accidents are 12 times more likely to occur than a kilometer driven by a car. 

The main reason for this is that railed transport achieves much of its efficiency by running on rails to overcome friction.  And a downside of that is that trams find it much harder to brake suddenly than cars or busses do. 

One might pose the question then ... why is it logical to run trams at 25 mph and taxis and busses at 20 mph on the same street?

The higher tram pedestrian casualty rate is possibly acceptable where the service is fully utilised as the accident per passanger km is lower than that for cars ... but as parts of the pre-war tram network were highly under-utilized this theoretical "safety advantage"was actually not present in reality.

Another reason for the switch to busses was that it is possible to change the number of busses on a route quickly according to supply and demand this was much more difficult with trams ... which also failed to compete with overground rail services - being neither one thing nor the other.  Rail based services due to the limiting of the number of dimensions in which they can travel suffer notoriously from congestion problems within their own networks.  Making the trains run on time...

... is very hard as any small disruption to the service causes a massive logistical disconnect... known to passanger on the London tube no longer as "delays" but "evening up the gaps in the service".  Rail transport works best where shuttle type services can be maintained.  For example... in order to convince the inhabitants of south London that they are on the tube network without digging any tunnels as this would be hugely expensive ...

...a massive rebranding exercise was undertaken.  Once upon a time there used to be a service called the East London Line that ran through Brunel's original tunnel under the thames - actually and literally the oldest part of the tube network. 

In order to convince everyone there had been some kind of investment without investing anything 167 years later...

 ...south of the river this line  is now "extended" from New Cross Gate where it used to terminate down to West Croydon Station like this...

... we are now told this is "the tube" although it clearly isn't as it mostly runs overground like the trains that originally passed through Brunel's tunnel. 

Someone probably twigged this because the East London Line has now been rebranded as "London Overground" with an Orange logo instead of a Red one.  The problem is that disconnecting the slow track between New Cross Gate and West Croydon has resulted in a considerable drop in rail network capacity elsewhere on the network.  Another reason for the abolition of the South London Line is that what was Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction section of the South London Line is being merged into what is going to become the "orbital" London Overground network .  This is glued together from what was the East London Line, the Gospel to Barking Line, the North London Line (Silverlink - so called because one died of old age using it), the Watford DC Line and the West London Line in order to build an intertconnected circular route of the sections of London that no one wanted to go to anyway.... as part of a "regeneration" scheme.  Of course people may now want to go to these places that they are easier to get to ...but this will despite some small network extension ... result in a re-configurment of existing commuter routes which will not be ideal for all existing commuters.

The solution to this is to have less trains on the Sutton to London Bridge service

I know at least two people who used to live in Sutton who have emigrated to other countries rather than spend the rest of their lives changing at Norwood Junction.

Unfortunately TFL also have a plan which nobody thought about at the time of introducing more Thameslink trains and building new tunnels for them.  This means that there are now going to be more direct trains from Surrey and beyond into London Bridge up the East Croydon Line.  This means that there are now less stopping platforms at London Bridge ... or there will be soon.  So a decision was taken to "solve" this problem by disrupting the South London Line service between Victoria and London Bridge.

The solution to the rail congestion between London, Croydon and the south coast is the proposed Croydon rail flyover to go with the two road flyovers and road underpass and three existing railway stations ...I kid you not.  The Direct London Link would offer non-stop or limited stop commuter services into London Bridge from Brighton and is part of a project called the Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2).   Local politicians may tell you this will never happen but it has its own website any everything.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said “It would certainly strengthen the case if we could open the line properly between Eridge and Tunbridge Wells” adding that South East lines have become a victim of their own success.

To combat these obvious shortcomings the pro cycling lobby and the European Union have come up with the concept of traffic evaporation...

The doctrine of Traffic Evaporation

... this doctrine states that if you can get everyone on the bus it will save urban space and the only reason people dont get on the bus is all the cars causing congestion. 

Of course this starts off from the premise that all cars only contain 1.25 passengers.... which may not be true and, of course, that public transport operates at maximum capacity all the time. 

One of the real reasons for making so many streets 20 mph is to force people to take the bus instead of use their own car to make public transport more competative.  Of course the flaw in the policy is that if you were to not reduce the number of cars on the road by making all but a few roads 20 mph  then you would simply push a load of cars from the side roads onto the main roads and you dont have to be an expert in percolation theory to realise that if you decrease the number of drivable routes you will increase congestion.

After all Ken Livingstone had already tried road pricing with the Congestion Charge.  Congestion now is just as bad as it was before he introduced it ......I suppose you could argue that without road pricing it would have been worse but it's hard to see how it could possibly get worse.  Ideologically left wing governments tend to be pro public ownership ....

...and have their constituencies in the most densely populated areas … whereas right wing voters generally tend to live in what are quaintly called the shire counties and have a low population density. So Liberal Democrats and Labour supporters tend to be more “anti-car” than Conservative ones on the whole… this, of course, might also be the result of the fact that public transport tends to be an area where historically the Trade Unions are very powerful and as Labour gains much of its funding from the trade unions it tends to love public transport more...?

Ken Livingstone was notoriously once quoted as saying "“I hate cars", if I ever get any power again I'd ban the lot" a "fact”? he now disputes....? 

Picture Credits

Most of the pictures are stolen from archives and official twaddle
Some were from think tanks but we couldn't be bothered to digitise them again
Most maps were stolen from Google
Most other pictures were by Mr Miller
Steam turbine rotor produced by Siemens, Germany
by Christian Kuhna "Siemens Pressebild"
Historical tram in Halle an der Saale, Germany by MarkV
1909 White Steam 20 HP Model O Touring From
the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, CA

1924 Stanley Steamer Serie 740 Powered by a twin cyliner, double acting steam engine (under the floor in the rear). A kerosene/parafin oil heated boiler in the front giving 20-30 hp. Engine power 100 bhp. Price: 2750 USD. Weight 1774 kg by Liftarn
4 stroke petrol engine animation by Zephris
Diagram of a proton conducting solid oxide fuel cell by R.Dervisoglu and erm
Tram Map stolen from The Campaign To Save the London Trams 1946-1952 Based on the Collected Papers Of The late Alan John Watkins By Ann E. Watkins available here.
Other maps and bits and pieces may have fallen off the back of wikipedia and the internet