With the introduction of a lower speed limit to much of Whitchurch, Kelvin Inglis, Vicar of All Hallows included the following in the local Whitchurch Parish Magazine.

He has kindly said that it can be published here.

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THE VICAR’S LETTER

Twenty’s plenty. And one of the first things that we are discovering, we who drive through Whitchurch from time to time, is that it takes a little longer. This is about not just driving a little slower, but also waiting a little longer. We are used to giving way to oncoming traffic, and now the motorist or eight coming the other way is also driving slower.

The point has been made that the cumulative effect of the new speed limit in Whitchurch is pretty marginal; it may take a couple more minutes to negotiate the town centre but usually no more than that. The benefit is one that all of us can enjoy immediately. Our roads are safer because the chunks of metal passing close by all our fragile pedestrians are moving considerably slower.

There is also I think a health benefit for the drivers. I think it comes with having the opportunity to draw breath. Once we get used to it, we can surrender to the charms of a slow cruise along our streets and a patient wait for those with right of way. There is the opportunity to pause and smile and think, to see who is going past, and think about other people’s lives and priorities. The headlong race to my destination (because I am uniquely busy and important) becomes a meditative (but alert) journey. We have a choice: to fume and raise the blood pressure, or to breathe and lower it.

The old monastic practice of reciting the psalms as an act of daily worship has a similar practice to ‘twenty’s plenty’. The psalms were already old and venerated in the time of Jesus because they come from the hearts of those who grappled with their faith. They are full of experience and passion and emotion; sometimes eloquent and beautiful, and occasionally cruel or self-pitying. When recited in church, each sentence is paused for a few seconds at the midpoint, just to stop the flow of the words and to allow them and their meaning to enter the soul.

I have always understood that Mr Gladstone, the grand old man of Victorian politics, gave every mouthful of his food a deliberate and excessive number of chews. That sounds to me a ratherjoyless way to do things, but each to his own.
There is a modern and western habit of hurrying everywhere and everything, and I hope we can just occasionally slow down and appreciate the journey. In the overall scheme of things, twenty really is plenty.

Kelvin Inglis
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The Parish magazine is an excellent production, available from the Church and other locations such as the Old Paper Shop.

Comments (3)

  • Ian Jackson

    A very thoughtful article. I have a lot of respect for our vicar and think he makes many valuable points here. However, I do not know that this 20mph scheme will prove to be ‘the answer’ to whitchurchs’ traffic problems and am appalled that it has been implemented with little evidence other than peoples opinions, when what is needed is a thorough investigation into the nature of the road traffic through the town. I have been trying to do this for the neighbourhood plan, and that includes speed monitoring (the CSW scheme), which needs to continue throughout the pilot so that any decisions made are based on actual evidence. Our problem is a shortage of volunteers to carry out surveys on parking, HGVs, CSW so would anyone interested in helping provide a proper solution please contact me through via WhitchurchPlan.org. Many thanks

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    Edit note for information:
    It is known that HCC did traffic monitoring at several sites around the town before the scheme was implemented.

  • Whitchurch parent

    A thoughtful article. One thing Kevin gets wrong here however is the idea of ‘right of way’ – no-one has right of way on in the UK

    https://www.gov.uk/general-rules-all-drivers-riders-103-to-158/overview

    1. Overview
    This section should be read by all drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders. The rules in The Highway Code do not give you the right of way in any circumstance, but they advise you when you should give way to others. Always give way if it can help to avoid an incident.

    Three times in the last two years vehicles have smashed into houses in the centre of town at speeds that would have probably killed a parent or child had they been on the footpath or at their front doors at the time. Sheer luck. A woman on the footpath in London street was knocked to the ground and concussed by the wingmirror of a van passing too close, too fast. That’s just ones I know of, that took days of repair to buildings/gardens/walls, with cars dragged away on transporters.

    We should not have to accept the risk/possible outcome of others people’s speed.

  • Louise

    All due respect to the Vicar, but since this 20mph zone has started I’ve probably seen 2 people actually trying to stick to 20mph! People are still cutting other drivers up, getting grumpy and when I try to stick to 20mph I get tailgated every day, so much so that I fear an imminent collision due to pure impatience from other drivers! It’s not going to change people’s attitudes at all, in fact I think it’s causing more trouble than the 30mph speed limit.

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