Open Streets Cape Town is in support and advocating locally for the United Nations call for a vehicle speed reduction to 30km/hr in urban areas where vehicles mix with vulnerable road users. This is not an unreasonable call. There is evidence globally to support this move as the most effective way to reduce road traffic injuries and death (besides removing vehicles entirely of course!).
The week of 17-23 May has been declared as United Nations Road Safety Week where advocacy agencies, governments and citizens alike are focusing on achievable measures to implement in order to save lives and make streets safer. There are some immediate reactions and pervasive myths that surface in response to this public call, which are to be expected, these are:
Myth: A 30km/hr won't make a difference.
Fact: Lower speed limits save lives
At above 30 km/hr impact speeds, pedestrians are at considerably greater risk of death. Higher speeds narrow motorists’ peripheral vision and impact their reaction times. The WHO have concluded that an increase in average speed of 1 km/h results in a 3% higher risk of a crash and a 4 to 5% increase in fatalities. Children are at highest risk as they are still developing the cognitive ability to accurately judge distance and speed.
Myth: This is an unpopular request, it will be unsupported.
Fact: There is wide scale acceptance of lower speed limits where people live
What seems a bold suggestion has been widely supported in neighbourhoods where speed reductions have been implemented. A recent global YouGov poll in 11 countries for the Child Health Initiative found that 74% of people supported restrictions on streets around schools if it allowed children to walk or cycle to school more safely, including limits on speed. Locally, the City of Cape Town administration receives thousands of requests for traffic calming measures each year, yet constructs few solutions. Ward councillors are under pressure to spend ward allocation budgets on costly safety measures to address requests from concerned communities. In under-resourced communities where these budgets are needed to address inadequate servicing, the choice between road safety and basic service provision is not one that should have to be made.
Myth: Government won't respond. The law can't change.
Fact: The South African Government is committed to radically reduce road traffic fatalities by 2030.
A 50% reduction in road crash fatalities by 2030 is a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. The South African Government subscribes to supporting all SDG goals in its policy creation, Further to that, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula further supported this goal as a signatory to the recent 2020 Stockholm agreement known as 50by30. Government is compelled to act and so requesting local government to act in a specific and local way to promote road safety is not only ok, it's supported at the highest level of government.
As individuals, it can feel like an overwhelming task to chance something like a speed limit, or even have a stop sign installed on a residential street. Here are some tools you can use during United Nations Road Safety Week to reach out to your local government representatives and amplify your request for change in your neighbourhood:
1. Download this petition letter to send to your local ward councillor.
This includes a request for a local area road safety audit compelling local authorities to consider issues and potential dangers.
2. Download this support banner to print and post to social media.
Write your personal message of support on this printable banner and share it on social media with the hashtag #love30
3. Report speeding on your local street via the City of Cape Town C3 Fault Reporting Site.
Vehicles speeding in residential ares, exceeding the current 60km/hr limit must be reported. These are excellent areas where a 30km/hr restriction can be implemented. Report infringements and ask for 30km/hr.
If you have any questions or comments, or want to get involved in this campaign, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org