South of the River – Twenty’s Plenty


Compass-SouthComment logo 2There was a nasty road accident on Dewsbury Road on Monday evening when a pedestrian was knocked down by a speeding car. I’m amazed there aren’t more accidents, some drivers are treating Beeston like a race track.

I live near the junction of two residential streets. Every vehicle accelerates away from the junction, obviously, but some motorist are clearly putting their foot to floor and testing those ‘0-60 in 8 seconds’ claims in the car ads. These drivers appear to have either high performance engines, or bad exhausts – I’m not technical enough to tell the difference.

It’s mostly just annoying. A particularly poignant scene in a TV drama spoilt by noise in the street. But it’s worrying too, my neighbours have young children and there are elderly people on the street. And I may be getting paranoid, but either these drivers tend to drive the same make and model, or people are coming round the block again and again.

I caught a couple of boy racers on video a couple of months ago. I was walking back from the post office (a much longer walk now they’ve closed half of them, but that’s another story) when two idiots sped by. I heard them a few streets away and they were clearly coming round again, so I got my phone out ready. Sure enough they came back and, without making it too obvious what I was doing, I videoed them speed along the street.

I passed this on to the neighbourhood policing team. No one will be arrested on the basis of my evidence alone, but it starts to build a picture of when and where incidents are taking place. I don’t know about you, but I can’t give an accurate description of a speeding car 30 seconds after it’s passed me. However, you can watch back a video and pause it to identify the model, make, colour and number plate.

So as the evenings get warmer, why not get out in your front garden, chat to your neighbours and keep your phone handy, set to video. The more the police know, the more they can do.

I’m pleased to say a planning notice went up back in October to make our streets in Cross Flatts a 20 mph zone. We’ve heard nothing since, but I’m hopeful it will be implemented. Calderdale has gone further and is rolling out 20 mph limits on all residential streets, right across the district. Disappointingly Leeds said last week they would not be following the example.

But surely this has got to be the way forward. Motorists have very small brains and having to check whether the speed limit has changed on top of watching for small children jumping into the road and some idiot driving too close behind you is too much. Before you complain, I speak as a motorist. And as a cyclist, a pedestrian and bus passenger. If we know it’s a residential street, so the limit will be 20, it’s just one less thing to worry about.

Why 20 mph? Very simply the risk of dying if you’re hit by a car travelling at 30 mph is very much higher than one travelling at 20 mph. There are other benefits too, reduced noise and pollution, better traffic flows and fewer queues. It’s counter-intuitive I know, but just like on ‘managed’ motorways, you can reduce your journey time by reducing your speed.

Getting back to Dewsbury Road (as I so often do) it is a very busy road. I don’t mean there’s a lot of traffic on it, although there is. I mean there’s a lot going on. Pedestrians are trying to cross the road, cars, van, lorries and cycles are turning left or right, onto or off the main road.

If the 20mph zone goes ahead it won’t affect the speed limit Dewsbury Road (or Beeston Road or Old Lane). Beyond the Fire Station (going out of town) the speed limit is 40 mph, yet there is residential housing on both sides right out to the ring road. I think there’s a good argument for reducing that to 30 mph.

Jeremy Morton Aug13Putting up signs won’t solve the problem on it’s own. I realise that the car involved in Monday’s accident was fleeing the police, so the speed limit wasn’t the driver’s top priority. But if most motorists are driving at a sensible speed and we keep our phones handy, we can isolate the idiots and make our roads safer and more peaceful.

I’ll be back next week with more of my views from South of the River. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me: @BeestonJeremy.