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Campaign for lower speeds on residential streets

Quality Streets campaign image

People across the UK are being encouraged to lobby their local councillors for lower speeds in urban residential streets so that they can feel safe to walk, cycle and socialise.

A 20mph speed limit is the key element of charity Sustrans' Quality Street campaign.

Alex Allen, Sustrans' expert in street redesign, said: "When we surveyed 2,000 individuals last year, 85% of them said they faced problems from speeding traffic or nuisance parking.

"People feel powerless to deal with the problem: 90% of those people we spoke to didn't know how to make improvements to their street, yet 70% were willing to get involved in making changes.

"At its worst, traffic prevents community interaction and wellbeing. It is a part of modern life but it doesn't have to dominate our lives and we want local authorities to make the first move towards more quality streets by lowering speed limits to 20mph in urban and residential areas."

Sustrans' work with hundreds of residents reveals that, unsurprisingly, people don't like their streets being used as 'rat runs'. The overwhelming majority are concerned that the streets outside their front doors are not safe for their children and are not even a safe place to meet and chat to friends, family and neighbours.

Over the last three years Sustrans has worked with local communities to improve their streets with inexpensive, cost-effective redesigns aimed at minimising speeding traffic, rat-running and anti-social behaviour.

Simple ideas, such as slowing down traffic using brighter, reflective road surfacing, using greenery to act as natural chicanes and tidying up rubbish bins to clear pavements, have all been done with minimum cost but big benefits.

In the streets where such changes have been made, 36% say they would be happy to let their children play outdoors, compared with just 9% before the changes were made. Forty per cent of residents now socialise much more with their neighbours.

Visit the Quality Streets website before the end of February, 2011 to lobby your local councillor.

Written: 03/12/2010 , last modified: 03/02/2011