The Fight for Safer Streets in Langholm: 20’s Plenty

Joan has been actively involved in the long and on-going struggle in Langholm over road saftey. Currently, Langholm has a 30mph speed limit for the portion of the A7 that runs through town as well as on several other residential and mix-use roads. However, there is concern that 30mph is too fast for cars and trucks to be going through town- making the roads unsafe for drivers and non-drivers alike.

Why 20mph?

20mph speed limits have a number of benefits for the community:

  • they improve accessibility for older and disabled people as well as young school children
  •  reduce road noise and pollution levels
  •  improve the sociability of streets
  •  encourage more pedestrian and cycling activity
  •  And smooth traffic flow by reducing waiting at junctions.

Arguably one the most convincing cases for a 20mph limit is the increase in road safety in both the number of accidents and their severity. When hit by a car traveling 35mph the chance of survival is only 50%, but when hit by a car travelling 20mph the chance of survival is a remarkable 97%.

Furthermore, implementing a 20mph limit in Langholm would not have any real negative effects. For instance, costly traffic calming measures like speed bumps are not actually necessary to enforce lower speed limits. Truck trip times, for those passing through Langholm, would also be barely affected by the change, most likely only having their journey extended by one minute.

Residents in Langholm support the idea of a 20mph limit:

There is currently a petition with over 600 signatures for the Dumfries and Galloway council and the Scottish government to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all residential roads in Langholm, including High Street (the A7).

Local council candidate Jock Dinwoodie conducted a survey that found 75% of Langholm residents supported a 20mph speed limit for High Street, while local councillor Denis Male found in his own survey that 71% of residents supported 20mph limits in town.

In a February 2012 meeting, 82% of the local residents who attended voted in favour of supporting “20’s Plenty”.

 Joan has taken on this case and worked to liaise between the community and those with influence over the road. This includes voicing resident concerns to David Middleton (Chief Executive of Transport Scotland), Keith Brown (Minister for Transport and Veterans), Jonathan Moran (Development Management Manager from Transport Scotland), and Hugh Gillies (Head of Network Operations, Trunk Road and Bus Operations Directorate at Transport Scotland).

Joan has pushed for the idea that Langholm be made into a kind of pilot scheme for “20’s Plenty”. Residents are still struggling to achieve this goal, but cite current circumstances as “optimistic”.

Recent developments include a public consultation that Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland held 19-20 November 2012 in relation to parking and loading restrictions on the A7/High Street Langholm after receiving objections to their draft order from the public. The draft order actually proposed amending the speed limit for the A7 from what had been a mix of 60mph and 30mph, outside and inside the town, to 40mph all through Newcastleton road to Ewes Bridge. This proposal effectively raised the limit then, contrary to the efforts of residents to lower speeds. We hope that as consultations proceed these organisations will realise the inherent benefits of a 20mph speed limit, which will make Langholm more pleasant and safer for drivers and non-drivers alike


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