Step by step guide to help design and put in place your own 20mph zone
Six steps to help you work with the political leadership of your local council to design and put in place your own 20mph zone: three surveys then three stages to get things done.
- Traffic and road safety
- Place – what do we have that is special
- Health & wellbeing
Get things done
- Basic ideas
- Design options
- Practical works
Surveys – Traffic and road safety
Bearing in mind the principles of traffic and road safety for 20mph, the first step is to survey the situation in a particular location. Road safety measured data may seem to differ from people’s perception. A road may not be statistically dangerous but nevertheless may feel so dangerous that people are uncomfortable and reluctant to cycle.
Our sample survey questions look at formal traffic speed, accident records and traffic signs along a stretch of road.
Perception of whether a driver, cyclist and pedestrian feels safe are also recorded at every 100 metres. This gives valuable insight into the way a road is perceived by local residents. For example, to local residents a main road can seem to split the local community.
Surveys – Place. What do we have that is special?
Everywhere is different. A new 20mph zone is an opportunity to enhance the sense of place (place-making) of a particular town, suburb or village. Place-making at 20mph shows some key characteristics to look for and then to enhance as part of practical works to support the speed limit.
Our sample survey questions deal with both the cultural and physical form of a place. Buildings that are important to the community: church, school, shop and pub, as well as local monuments, village green and historic buildings.
The physical form of groups of buildings and the public spaces between them such as the road, verges, as well as road-side walls, hedges and trees all help create a distinct character that local people cherish and that can be brought into consideration of designs for practical works. For example a historic inn may still be the village pub.
Surveys – Health & wellbeing
Surveys for health and wellbeing will include an assessment of the opportunities for involvement by local volunteers in practical works. There may already be a thriving wildlife and conservation working group or gardening club who’s enthusiasm can be co-opted.
Do you need traffic calming? If speeds are already down to 20mph or have reduced sufficiently after the speed limit signs have been changed, traffic calming is probably not needed but there may be some village landscape improvements, such as de-cluttering, that might be desirable.
If changing the traffic signs from 30mph to 20mph does not reduce speeds sufficiently, the police are likely to insist on self-enforcement in the form of traffic calming. This need not necessarily mean conventional road humps and pavement build-outs into the road that may be seen by drivers as a challenge to overcome and by local residents as quite ugly and alien to the character of a place.
Bearing in mind that drivers read the whole road and adjust the way they drive to what they feel is safe, an alternative approach to the design of traffic calming is to use landscape to change the nature of the road so that drivers feel they want to slow and take more care. For example at the edge of a 20mph area the position of planters and hedges mark the place where drivers can understand they should reduce speed.
Planters, parked cars, landscaped crossings and trees, spaced at about 75 metres apart, can be designed to seamlessly fit into the character of a town or village.
As well as trees and shrubs and grass, this new landscape can include local style fences, walls, and art, including sculpture. They are all specifically mentioned in the national traffic calming regulations (1999).
Parked cars reduce road width
Parked cars reduce the width of a road by about two metres and so have the same effect as a traffic calming build-out. In many places car parking can be relied upon to be almost permanent, so much so that stretches of the road need to be kept clear in both directions to allow some traffic to pass.
When they cross a road, people try to walk in a direct line towards their destination. If the crossing is out of their way they are less likely to use it. The two-stage courtesy crossing at Abbey Gate, Bury St Edmunds allows people to safely cross each lane separately and walk directly to their destination.
At road junctions, speed can be reduced by extending a green verge into the road, so that turn vehicles slow down. The edge of the green at the corner of the road may need to be built strongly enough not to be damaged by the heavy wheels of turning lorries.
Removing the white line at the centre of a road, even at a hump-back bridge, reduces traffic speed. Drivers can appreciate the obvious danger and slow.
Many of the design ideas to reduce traffic speed are practical works that can be carried out with the help of local people, such as planting trees and hedges, widening green verges and creating art that reminds people of the special character and history of a place. Here are some examples.
Road-side parking places that help reduce traffic speed can be pleasantly planted with trees and flowers.
Many tasks can be carried out entirely or with the help of local people. Keeping roadside railings well maintained shows that a place is being looked after. This affects driving behaviour and reminds drivers to take more care.