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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

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Question to Kent County Council [with answer], 13 September 2012: 20mph and children

October 8, 2012 2:27 PM

Question by George Koowaree to Jenny Whittle, Cabinet Member for Specialist Children's Services

Is the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children's Services aware of published research demonstrating that:

Armed with this knowledge will the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children's Services pledge her active support to the lowering of urban and residential speed limits in Kent to 20mph to the benefit of children and families health by cutting child pedestrian accidents and providing safer streets where they can walk and cycle?

Answer

Following a similar question posed to Bryan Sweetland I would like to reiterate Mr Sweetland's response and confirm the County Council's commitment to reducing road causalities in Kent as one of our highest priorities and recognising the part that 20mph schemes have to play in this. At the same time, consideration must be given to any adverse impact and cost of installing and maintaining traffic calming in 20mph zones, something that colleagues in Highways will look at in detail.

Although no formal studies have yet been carried out in Kent, I am aware of the published research on 20mph schemes carried out in other parts of the country. This research has highlighted the reduction in road causalities is greatest in younger children, particularly child pedestrian casualties and recognises that 20mph areas can unlock the potential for more physical activity such as walking and cycling, leading to better health, more social interaction and stronger communities.

The majority of crashes in Kent and elsewhere occur on built up roads and areas. There is an important link between areas of highest deprivation and the risk of being injured in road traffic accidents where research has found that children from these areas are five times more likely to be injured in accidents. It is therefore important that schemes should be prioritised to places of most need first, i.e. those with the poorest crash record, areas of social deprivation with high populations and around schools. The current County Council policy is already using its resources to target these locations. However, we must take into consideration that the widespread introduction of 20mph zones on A class roads in Kent would be inappropriate and have the potential to cause delays. The County Council are currently undertaking trials and will be consulting with local communities, the Police and Joint Transportation Boards in order to implement cost effective and sensible 20mph schemes to improve road safety where it is most needed.