OXFORD’S streets have seen a sharp drop in the number of accidents since 20mph zones were brought in.
Comparing the 46 months before and since the controversial zones were rolled out to all but the main arterial city routes, there has been a fall of 18 per cent in the total number of accidents.
St Clement's, Botley Road, St Giles, High Street and The Plain have all seen accidents fall from between 22 and 66 per cent.
St Giles has seen the largest decline, with 33 accidents between 2005 and 2009 dropping to 11 between 2009 and 2013.
Oxford Pedestrians’ Association chairwoman Sushila Dhall said she found the statistic “encouraging”.
She said: “That is a wide road with a very small 20mph sign. So it is with minimal input that’s working.”
She also said Oxford “felt safer”, adding: “ People are more confident walking about and crossing roads.”
But she said traffic calming measures – such as speed humps – were also needed to force drivers slow down.
Sections of major city centre roads and residential streets across Oxford were made 20mph zones in a £250,000 move by Oxfordshire County Council to make roads safer. on September 1, 2009.
Overall accidents from the 46 months before and after fell from 662 to 543, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
However, only the least serious accidents have seen a reduction the number of killed or serious injury accidents stayed the same.
There was one fatal accident, 89 serious accidents, and 572 slight accidents leading up to September 1, 2009. Over the same length of time afterwards And in the same period afterwards there was one fatal, 89 serious, and 453 slight accidents.
Figures were available up until June 31, 2013 so the Oxford Mail has compared 46 months before and after the September 1, 2009 date.
There has been criticism though, with police accused of failing to fine enough drivers flouting the limit.
A speed check carried out in St Giles last September found 82 drivers going above 20mph in a two-hour period, with one driver hitting 41mph. While 18 were fined, 64 were let off with a warning.
Speed campaigner Ted Dewan, of Beech Croft Road, North Oxford, said the speed restrictions had been a good start but to cut accidents roads have to be redesigned.
He said: “It’s not enough to stick the signs up but its a good start.”
The 52-year-old said accidents may have risen in Banbury Road – from 32 to 33 – as the road was not designed as a shared space for all vehicles. He said: “What they (the council) didn’t unfortunately do is make it a genuine shared space. It is still a traffic conduit.”
Taxi driver Colin Dobson said most drivers had ignored the speed limits. He added: ‘I have always felt they are pretty much a waste of time, because I don’t detect the other drivers on the road slowing down until there’s really heavy traffic. In my view, most people appear to be ignoring it.”
In 2009, Oxfordshire County Council’s then cabinet member for transport implementation, Rodney Rose, said: “If we can slow traffic down, it will prevent accidents and will protect lives.”
Four years later Mr Rose’s successor, David Nimmo Smith, agreed Oxford was now becoming a safer place.
He said: “I ‘m pleased the amount of accidents overall has come down but we need to get to the bottom of why the serious accidents haven’t come down.”
- October 2004 – More than 60 city centre streets made 20mph zones.
- November 2004 – Some 69 streets in Jericho, including Walton Street, become 20mph.
- January 2005 – Some 76 roads in the Greater Leys area become 20mph zones.
- October 2005 – Cowley Road from Stockmore Street to Leopold Street made a 20mph zone.
- July 2008 – Eight streets west of Abingdon Road subjected to the speed limit.
- November 2008 – Summertown sees 11 roads become 20mph zones including part of Banbury Road.
- September 2009 – Almost all residential roads and some main routes in the city are restricted to 20mph.
ACCIDENTS in roads made 20mph zones in September 2009:
1. London Road: Before – 53; After – 55. 3.7 per cent rise
2. Banbury Road: Before – 32; After – 33. 3.1 per cent rise
3. The Plain: Before – 36; After – 19. 47 per cent fall
4. High Street: Before – 35; After – 27. 22 per cent fall
5. St Giles: Before – 33; After – 11. 66 per cent fall
6. Botley Road: Before – 22; After – 16. 27 per cent fall
7. St Clement's: Before - 21; After - 14. 33 per cent fall
8. Woodstock Road: Before – 15; After – 13. 13 per cent fall
9. Cowley Road: Before – 10; After – 16. 60 per cent rise
10. Warneford Lane: Before - 11; After - 12. Nine per cent rise
According to the Department for Transport, a person hit at 30mph is seven times more likely to die than a person hit at 20mph.