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Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 17 July 2009

Dr Brian Potter: ‘false sense of security’
Are 20mph bans really safer? asks critic of ‘polluting’ zones

But advocate of speed curbs presses for scheme to be introduced quicker

CARPETING Islington with 20mph zones will create more pollution and could pose a greater danger to pedestrians, an activist warned this week.
Dr Brian Potter, chairman of Islington’s tenants’ and leaseholders’ associations, spoke out as the Town Hall issued new consultation leaflets about the scheme.
Approximately half the side streets in the north and west of the borough are already subject to a 20mph ban, which is now being introduced in streets in the south and east. Main roads are not affected.
Dr Potter said that any car going at 20mph was bound to throw out more toxic fumes than normal. He added: “You are driving in a low gear so there will be more exhaust fumes. Also, I would suggest that driving slow, instead of making you more aware, could give motorists a false sense of security.
“I’m not an expert but isn’t there a danger that, like a slow walker, motorists could find themselves day dreaming? I just wonder if it has been thought through.”
AA spokesman Paul Watters confirmed that, according to its findings, cars travelling at 20mph would expel about 10 per cent more exhaust pollution. But its research found that 54 per cent of people polled agreed that 20mph bans would cut pedestrian casualties against 32 per cent who disagreed.
Mr Watters said: “In principle, we support 20mph bans as long as they don’t affect main or distributor roads or cover too large an area. The biggest problem we have found is that drivers faced with extra journey time tend to break the limit.”
Islington’s Labour opposition leader Councillor Catherine West also supported 20mph bans, particularly around schools. She added: “However, I believe there must be proper consultation and if people vote against it for their street then it shouldn’t go ahead.”
Islington South and Finsbury prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate Antonia Cox said that as a cyclist and a mother she supported 20mph zones. “But I’m a bit suspicious of the need to blanket the whole borough,” she added. “We need to look at the circumstances for each road.”
Lib Dem environment chief Councillor Greg Foxsmith said the consultation was continuing area by area. He added: “Many London boroughs are now introducing 20mph as it is a proven method of slowing traffic and reducing accidents.
“Already anecdotally there are suggestions that the scheme has helped reduce accidents in the borough. That means fewer children and adults are being injured or killed on our roads.”
Highbury West Green councillor Katie Dawson originally proposed the 20mph scheme to the council and won support from Lib Dems and Labour. She argued that far more pollution was created with traffic going at speed and then stopping and starting. “And the idea that motorists would concentrate less because they are going at a slower speed is perfectly ridiculous,” she added.
“My only concern is that 20mph is not being introduced to the borough quick enough. At the moment we have a patchwork system with some streets 20mph and some still 30mph. It’s all very confusing.”

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