I share others frustrations with Marlborough’s numerous traffic problems; congestion, parking and pollution. There will not be one answer to all the problems but the introduction of a 20mph limit would be a cheap and effective way to improve the situation now, whilst we seek additional long term answers.
20mph limits are common in lots of towns and cities, and around here they are already in many villages. That’s because the Department for Transport has robust evidence proving the benefits of lower speed limits, so has been recommending councils to adopt them for roads with high pedestrian use since 2013. The DfT tests identified that on roads with average speeds of 24mph, driver compliance with 20mph sign only limits was good with no extra enforcement required.
The World Health Organisation, Public Health England, The Association of Directors of Public Health, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and NICE all support 20mph limits to prevent injuries to children.
NICE’s guidance on ‘Air Pollution’ (2017) strongly supports ’20mph limits without physical measures to reduce speeds in urban areas where average speeds are already low (below around 24mph) to avoid unnecessary accelerations and decelerations’ for better air quality. Less braking and acceleration in busy streets reduces the pollution produced by vehicles. Journey times won’t increase, we’ll just spend less time speeding up, only to brake hard at the next queue.
Marlborough is an Air Quality Management Area because our air is so polluted. It is a serious problem that is having consequences for real people, right now, in our town. Pollutants from road traffic are known cause suppressed lung growth in children, asthma, heart disease and the onset of type 2 diabetes. The exposure of pregnant women to air pollution has also been found to affect to foetal brain growth. In Marlborough I know several people with lung conditions who just can’t go outside when pollution is high.
Marlborough shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants need people to enjoy visiting our town. Currently our town feels choked by traffic. It is often scary to cross roads. It often smells of car fumes. Let’s do everything we can to support our tradespeople and to keep a vibrant High Street. Let’s help our children to live healthier lives. We deserve better.