Words have meaning and meaning exposes dominant values.
So what are we to make of your Chronicle headline writer’s “Residents have their say on looming 20mph crackdown”. Why “looming”, why “crackdown”?
We can immediately tell where that headline writer’s head is; and this was a headline for what was meant to be an open public survey on the 20mph limit in built-up -areas.
With a headline like that you will inevitably encourage the carbon liberationists, locked in their last century mind-set where car was always king, no matter what the context.
You could try instead, as I have done at election times, a door by door canvass up the Hereford Rd, or along Park Cresent or Park Avenue.
The sole subject that every resident wanted dealt with was the irresponsible speeding, noise and aggressive behaviour of vehicles on those roads.
Most of those roads are far too wide for an in-town road, encouraging reckless speeding.
From Llantilio Pertholey down to the Morrison garage at the A40 junction it’s a distance of 0.62 miles, so dropping the speed limit from 30–20mph will mean it will add just over half a minute to your journey. Are you really in that much of a hurry?
At 20mph you don’t get irritated by cyclists who can mostly travel at that speed along with (source:IAB) you.
You can brake softly as another motorist from a side road inadvertently pulls out ahead of you instead of stamping on your breaks and cursing out of your side window.
The very slow walking elderly person can cross the road with more confidence as you can break easily to allow them passage. (How many pedestrian crossing points are there on the Hereford Rd?).
The adult with a pram and another child walking does not feel guilty for slowing your car journey a little as they wrestle down the pavement curbs with their charges.
At 20 mph, as a driver, mentally you are less stressed, but only if you free yourself of the old habit that must get from A to B in the shortest time possible.
At 20mph you become far more aware that you share the movement spaces in towns (and that includes the pavements) with many others.
As cars forever grow larger, faster, quieter (especially EV’s) and more insulated and impervious to the sounds of the outside world, maybe reducing driving speeds amongst our fellow citizens at close quarters might at least allow you to offer them more courtesy and consideration.
Ever since vehicles were invented there have been speed limits. Your car is still ridiculously designed to do 80mph to 120mph but the law says maximum 70mph on roads where only vehicles legally exist and where a stout crash barrier divides the carriageway.
Any respected research on road traffic, pollution, accidents and speed limits will tell you the proven benefits of 20mph as opposed to 30mph in built-up areas.
So please avoid stoking yet another pointless irate ‘us and them’ by your headlines.
We are all pedestrians and also car drivers (although we should remember the many who don’t have a car). Some us cycle, many of us have small children; we all grow older and more frail.
Let’s have out town spaces safer and more pleasurable for all.
Tim Graham. Lower Monk Street, Abergavenny