Like many other friends of Bunbury, I like to use the local shops. Coming from Wakes Meadow this involves a short journey, crossing roads about 4 times. To be fair on some occasions I don’t cross the road by the Chapel where the pavement runs out, but continue on the same side walking on the road. The truth is, nobody can get to the shops without walking on the road.
The same is true for children attending the primary school in School Lane. If you start from Upper or Lower Bunbury then to get to the school you have to walk on roads. OK, I hear you say that’s not a problem in a rural village like Bunbury. These days Bunbury is a pretty busy village especially in the morning and at the end of school. We want children to be able to walk to and from school safely with or without a guiding hand. Most walkers and cyclist would also like to get around safely and quietly. For along time it has been the norm to put the interests of pedestrians well down the pecking order when it comes to spending tax payer money. However, this does have consequences.
Today we have a health crisis stemming (in part) from lack of activity with 1 in 3 children in year 6 suffering from overweight or obesity and about 40% of adults failing to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. The air we breathe has also become a source of anxiety as we learn that it is full of pollutants that can shorten our lives. We need to make it safe and easy for people get out and enjoy walking and cycling around Bunbury.
How can we improve matters?
The government, in its recent publications ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy’ say:
We want to build on these successes and make walking and cycling the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey.
And this they state will:
….for society as a whole, it means lower congestion, better air quality, and vibrant, attractive places and communities.
Sounds great but how do we help the process along?
One way would be to make the walking and cycling environment friendlier and safer. Putting the pedestrian in pole position and making vehicles passing through the village slow down and give priority to those not in cars. Yes, I can hear the car fans rising in mass to objection. Many drivers do take great care and are considerate. What I’m arguing for is that within the narrow limits of the residential area of the village it is time to give the walker and cyclists a bit more consideration. One suggestionmeans introducing a lower speed limit. Bare in mind that where those pavements don’t exist vehicles can drive up to 30 mph.
The 20’s Plenty Campaign
The ’20 is plenty for us’ is a campaign to encourage the wider adoption of zones where all traffic is limited to a maximum of 20 mph. Chester and Cheshire West have adopted the scheme and will be rolling it out over the next year. The Wirral and Lancashire are also committed LA’s in the Northwest.
A new National Speed limit
The 30 mph speed limit was introduced in 1934 on the back of what we would call today ‘gut feeling’;. The evidence did not exist. Nearly 130,000 people were casualties on our roads in 2016. Of those, the biggest group (over 105,000) were on 30 mph roads (DfT – Reported road casualties 2016). Going to 20 mph makes collisions more survivable (dependent on age) with about a 20% reduction of casualties.
Lower car speeds also encourage more people to walk and ride as much of the fear of fast traffic has gone. The health advantages are well documented but a commitment to promote more healthy ‘every day’ activity is not apparent. We need a culture more in keeping with the times and is prepared to put the priority on walking and cycling rather than driving everywhere.