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MP brings debate on Road Humps and 20mph Speed Limits to Westminster raising taxi driver concerns

In a recent parliamentary debate, Iain Duncan Smith, the Member of Parliament for Chingford and Woodford Green, ignited a discussion on the use of road humps and 20mph speed limits in residential areas and also raised taxi driver concerns on the topic.

Smith expressed concerns about the widespread implementation of traffic-calming measures and called for a more thoughtful approach that considers the unintended consequences faced by residents.

During the debate, Smith clarified that he was not opposed to traffic-calming measures in general but highlighted the unnecessary application of these measures in residential areas where they may not be needed. He pointed out that safety measures like road humps outside schools or hospitals are crucial and should not be considered in the debate.

One of the major concerns raised by Smith was the significant vibrations caused by road humps, particularly the higher ones. He described instances where large lorries hitting these humps at 20mph created enormous vibrations that extended into nearby houses. Moreover, the braking required before traversing the humps increased emissions. Smith argued that the roll-out of 20mph zones and associated traffic-calming measures should be assessed on a road-by-road basis, taking into account the local consent, rather than implementing blanket measures.

Smith stressed that local authorities should have the authority to set speed limits based on their knowledge of local needs and priorities. While the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (Amendment) Order 1999 allows local authorities to introduce 20mph zones without explicit permission, the Department for Transport emphasises that any changes to speed limits should be proportionate and circumstance-based. Smith raised concerns about the inconsistent application of this approach in various areas where residents have expressed grievances.

Additionally, Smith highlighted the impact of these measures on London's taxi drivers. Many drivers have been leaving the industry due to the anxiety and stress caused by navigating through the city's decreasing speed limits. The need to constantly monitor their speedometers to avoid fines detracts from focusing on the road. Moreover, excessive traffic-calming measures have led to road blockages for both residents and taxi drivers alike.

The MP said: “Too many Londoners in my constituency and elsewhere are struggling on main roads that have rapidly been brought down from 40 mph to 20 mph. The lower speed limit means that there is almost invariably some focus on the speedometer rather than on the road, because people are concerned that they cannot afford the fine. This may seem apocryphal, but taxi drivers are saying that they are moving out of their line of work simply because it is becoming impossible for them to navigate this process, especially taking into account some of the calming measures that have been over-instated throughout the city, where some of the roads they use are now blocked, even for some of the residents.”

The debate sparked by Iain Duncan Smith will hope to bring about attention to the need for a more nuanced approach to traffic-calming measures, particularly in residential areas. The impact on residents, including vibrations, property damage, noise, and interrupted sleep, must be considered and local consent should be a vital component in determining the necessity and implementation of such measures. The concerns raised regarding the effect on taxi drivers in London may also warrant further examination and potential mitigation strategies.


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