Several events this last week indicated support for the principle of 20mph in Whitchurch. With Hampshire County Council leading a pilot in Whitchurch it is important that community support is shown when they circulate a Questionnaire in the near future.
With this in mind, a small but very positive meeting on Wednesday evening discussed many of the benefits to the town with the focus not on speed but on the improvements to the living environment to benefit all.
HCC have told local supporters that most of the town is to be within the pilot, including the whole town centre, the areas around the schools and most of the residential areas. A few areas on the edge have been excluded, they say.
Less about speed, more about the town
As supporters say, it is less about speed but more about helping Whitchurch become a more liveable town, where the fear of traffic is removed. As well as improving safety lower speeds would encourage more sustainable travel, greater use of local businesses, improvements in health and well-being, and gains in property values.
Danish experts call for 20mph
On the following evening supporters had the rare chance to attend a presentation in London on Bicycle Culture by Design given by Mikael Colville-Andersen, a Danish-Canadian urban mobility advocate who has been a modern leader in the promotion of cycling in Copenhagen.
Hosted by the Embassy of Denmark the evening also included a Q and A session with the editor of The Times. When asked what the one thing would improve towns and cities most, Mikael said it would be “the introduction of 20mph areas”. (See below).
Town Hall Drop-in
Saturday morning saw a steady stream call into the Town Hall to discuss their ideas on 20mph in Whitchurch and the support was very much in line with national trends with nearly all indicating approval for a Whitchurch pilot.
While traffic snarled up outside, seemingly ‘fighting’ for every piece of road space, and sometimes pavement space too, a series of pictures were exhibited showing the benefits to the town.
Newbury Street was an area noted by many as requiring speed reduction and at one point a vehicle was seen travelling at an approximate 40mph down into the Square. Others were witnessed driving on pavements and narrowly missing pedestrians. Bloswood Lane and London Street also gained much comment as problem areas in the town.Supportive comment
The pilot is supported by Whitchurch Town Council and was proposed to HCC by County Councillor Tom Thacker. Several Councillors called in to the Drop-In, with the Mayor, Cllr Jackie Day, signing the book with
“This project is an excellent idea and I fully support this and look forward to the next stage”
Other visitors wrote
“Yes please, at 30mph kids die, at 20mph they have a chance”, and
“people should feel safe to cross roads anywhere in the town, people matter, not cars”, as well as
“hopefully all roads can benefit to create safer streets”.
A small minority of alternative views were offered – including
“Not on main through roads” but this continued with
“Fine for estate and off main road areas”, while another said
“Pedestrians should only ever use zebra crossings”.
The next stage is to await the official Questionnaires from Hampshire County Council.
When it is known when these are available it is hoped to hold another Drop-in.
Looking at other schemes
Meanwhile supporters keen to learn more about improving the street environment are visiting Oxford next week, where most of the city now has 20mph. A DIY Street Project is to be examined to see how local people have enhanced their own areas.
1) Latest news is that the Whitchurch Primary School has shown support for the 20mph pilot.
2) 20mph (30kph) was encouraged by a leading Danish urban mobility advocate, when speaking to the Whitchurch Town Website after his presentation in London: