Opinion with Councillor Mike Garner: Improving road safety across Thanet

Cllr Mike Garner

Leader of the Green Group on Thanet District Council, Cllr Mike Garner, and his suggestions for road safety:

A recent accident in Church Street, St Peters, which resulted in a cyclist being seriously injured and needing hospital treatment, highlights the need for us to rethink how we can improve road safety for everyone.

Kent County Council has promised a public consultation following the cancellation of the Broadstairs and Westgate ‘active travel’ schemes, which were both ill-conceived and rushed through, and I’d like to propose a number of changes for them, and all of us, to consider.

A 20mph speed limit in all residential areas across Thanet:

Photo John Horton

Speed limits on the UK’s residential roads are already 60% higher than in other comparable European countries. Not only has reducing speed limits on residential roads been found to lower the incidence of accidents and the number of fatalities and serious injuries that result from them, a 20mph speed limit would also have the added benefit of improving the air quality of the area.

I believe there is significant local support for this simple change. At a recent Broadstairs & St Peters Town Council meeting, my motion to lobby KCC to implement a town-wide 20mph speed limit in residential areas was passed unanimously.

Road safety awareness and enforcement:

Introducing a 20mph speed limit alone is not enough, though. Our councils need to work with the police to raise awareness of road safety and to increase enforcement across the area. This could be done in a number of ways:

  • The introduction of radar speed signage. This can be fixed at the entrances to residential areas, while mobile signage can be available for accident hot spots highlighted by local residents.
  • The introduction of other road calming measures, like speed bumps, in areas where they are appropriate.

Making it easy to reduce car use:

Of course, our long-term aim needs to be a reduction in car traffic on the roads overall. We use our cars too often for short journeys when lots of us could either walk or cycle. To encourage this, we need to be making all roads, especially new ones, bike and pedestrian friendly.

Kent County Council has been allocated up to £8million as part of the Government’s push for ‘active travel’ and we have an opportunity during the upcoming public consultation to highlight areas in Thanet where this could best be spent, with a focus on making it easier for pupils to walk or cycle to school. I have a number of suggestions in my ward of St Peters.

If you have any suggestions for your local area either let me, or one of your local councillors, know, so that we can make our roads safer, and more accessible, for everyone.