20’s Plenty for Langholm

Langholm, or the ‘Muckle Toon’ is campaigning to get lower speed limits, particularly on its High Street, which doubles as the A7. As the Google Street View shows the town is bisected by this major trunk road, slicing through its heart. Dumfries and Galloway is slowly beginning to introduce 20mph speed limits on some streets but it’s falling behind places like Edinburgh where 20mph is rapidly becoming the norm. There’s plenty of research that shows introducing lower speed limits is an easy, cheap and effective way to make a place walking and cycling friendly.

But what about trunk roads? The Scottish Government’s guidance at the moment is that the needs of ‘vulnerable road users’ (that’s ‘people’ to you and me) should be taken into account – but at the moment such needs are set aside on major routes. After all, we can’t be delaying traffic, can we?

But are we? Just 0.4 miles of the A7 passes through Langholm, and currently it has a 30mph speed limit for that stretch. It currently takes a driver 48 seconds to cover that distance – as against 72 seconds if the speed limit was dropped. Is 24 whole seconds really going to make the difference to Scotland’s economy? Is it too much to ask that lorries and cars drop a gear and slow down to let shoppers and schoolchildren cross the road? We don’t think so.

It’s not just Langholm either. All across the county there are towns and villages cut through by too fast roads. I visit Crocketford every day and witness the postman sprinting for his life across the A75 as the Stranraer traffic thunders through the town.  How many people will really miss their ferries if they have to slow down for the fraction of a mile it takes to pass through the village? How much more pleasant would it be for the people who live in it if they can visit their shop or pub or catch the bus without taking their lives in their hands?

There are objections to 20mph zones, the main one being that they would be widely flouted if they’re not accompanied by more expensive (and less popular) measures like chicanes, speed bumps or cobbled road surfaces that encourage slower driving. But surely they would be more widely observed if they were consistently applied. Making every residential or shopping road a 20 mph road would be easier to understand than a patchwork of measures. And throw in a few speed cameras and a bit of enforcement and the message would soon get across.

You can find out more – and support Langholm and other areas in their campaign for lower speeds on the 20’s Plenty website.

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5 Comments

Filed under Policy

5 responses to “20’s Plenty for Langholm

  1. Gavin

    The average speed on Langholm High Street at present is probably 20mph or less as the traffic does not flow freely due to traffic lights, parked vehicles, and a give way sign at the narrow part of the road next to the Town Hall so a 20mph restriction is not neccessary as it is already in force unoficially.

  2. sallyhinchcliffe

    True – but average speed can disguise big variations, especially if drivers feel they have to accelerate away from the lights. In fact, a 20mph limit can end up reducing congestion, so life’s better for everyone…

  3. Gavin is mistaken. ”Average speed” can mean that half vehicles travel at 10mph and the other half at 30mph and this could be actually taking place at the Town Hall/Market Place’s bottleneck. But as Sally says a few yards past that drivers can be seen to step on the accelerator and over the majority of length of the really urban section of the High Street (about half a mile) are travelling at much higher speeds. This is where all the householders and shoppers on the extremely narrow pavements are pressing their backs against the wall as petrolheads and 44 tonne juggenauts hurtle past. Also Gavin is apparently unaware that a Transport Scotland Traffic Order has been posted which seeks to ban all parking on the High Street. It is well-established (and supported by the opinion of the police) that the consequence will be for High Street traffic to ”flow” faster. I.e making the High Street even more dangerous than it is already.

    The traffic engineers have made a big mistake.

    Underlying all of this, remember that the chance of a pedestrian (or cyclist) being seriously injured or killed by a car travelling at 30mph is 45% but at 20mph only 5mph. On top of that consider that the hundreds of people in Langholm who have already signed the 20s Plenty For Us petition are very well aware of the danger facing them-that a high percentage of vehicles passing through Langholm are 40 tonne lorries. All pedestrians and cyclists are mincemeat.in face of these juggernauts. It is rubbish to claim that 20mph is ”unnoficially in force”!

    The arguments for 20mph to become the default urban speed are manifold.

    The current default of 30mph was established in 1934 when there were 1.5 million motor vehicles. There are now 33m.
    Portsmouth now has 1200 streets with 20mph speed limits. This has resulted in 22% fewer casualties.
    Warribgton’s scheme cost £100,00-in one year they have saved £800,000 on saved lives and casualties.

    The quality of life, community values, conviviality and sense of belonging felt by residents in historic towns and streets when not dominated by aggressive motor vehicles is just as important as the other matters life and death.

    Bill

  4. Pingback: Langholm: A View from the Netherlands | Cycling Dumfries

  5. Pingback: Twenty’s Plenty for Langholm | Cycling Dumfries

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