NEW 15mph speed limits could be introduced to the nation’s capital in a bid to “eliminate” road deaths.
But the proposed “safe” zones in London pose a different threat, as experts claim they could actually be worse for the environment.
City of London Corporation announced plans to reduce speed limits in the Square Mile as part of their 25-year draft strategy to tackle air quality, road danger and congestion.
The “Vision Zero” strategy hopes to completely eradicate road fatalities in the city within the next two and a half decades.
An official statement from the Corporation said: “More workers than ever on City streets has meant that the overall number of people killed and seriously injured annually has not reduced.
“The introduction of a City-wide 15mph speed limit, subject to approval by the Department for Transport, aims to reduce the likelihood and severity of collisions as we strive to eliminate death and serious injury from our streets.”
But expert motoring groups have now come forward with claims the speed changes won’t help to save lives, and will actually worsen pollution levels.
Both IAM RoadSmart and The AA claimed the constant stop-start of engines and lower running speeds would lead to an increase in the amount of harmful emissions produced.
They instead called for better investment in road safety infrastructure.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research, said: “Traffic in central London is already only moving at speeds which have changed little since the Victorian era.
“IAM RoadSmart can see no real road safety benefits in enforcing a limit which traffic seldom actually reaches.
“It’s important that speed limits match the environment and the best way to deliver safer roads is to invest in segregated cycling facilities, high quality shared spaces and to redesign our urban areas so it is obvious where cars, pedestrians and bikes can live together in harmony.
“Simply putting up a few signs and threatening new levels of enforcement but not actually changing how our streets look and feel will achieve very little.”
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The Automobile Association claimed there would be little to gain from lowering speed limits by 5mph, as drivers often travel slightly over the maximum.
Currently, police are advised to only issue speeding tickets to drivers travelling at 10 per cent plus 2mph over the limit, as speedometers often fail to show true speed giving motorists a “buffer zone”.
An AA spokesperson said: “What happens with 20mph zones is they bring the vast majority of drivers below 30mph.
“The majority of drivers drive at 25mph in these areas and we would get the same with 15mph zones.
“London traffic moves no faster than a horse and cart anyway and it won’t help with pollution as you have more cars stopping and starting all the time.”
Chris Hayward, Planning & Transportation Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: “Nine out of 10 of collisions that result in someone being killed or seriously injured in collisions involve a motor vehicle and so we need bold proposals to make our streets safer.
“Once finalised, this Transport Strategy will be transformative in ensuring that the Square Mile remains a healthy, accessible and safe commercial and cultural centre and a great place to live, work, and visit in the years to come.”