Joint statement for a safer Whitby, and North Yorkshire

20s Plenty for North Yorkshire and Whitby Community Network have jointly made an activism video on Whitby’s urgent and growing elderly and child road safety crisis. It’s critical as North Yorkshire council decided on a school merger despite no child friendly way to access the amalgamated Secondary site. Concerned residents aim to protect public health by normalising lower speed limits for most roads. Default 20mph “where people are” is UN best practice for duty of care, to raise public health and for cycling and walking to be boosted for all ages or anyone with an invisible disability like impaired mental health.

Andy Jefferson, local resident who has elicited the support of all GP surgeries in Whitby and the Esk Valley for a North Yorkshire wide default 20mph policy, has made this video.

For many years Whitby has requested funds to become more pedestrian and bike friendly. A year ago, the town council voted for default 20mph and asked North Yorkshire Council (NYC), the Highways Authority for their support, to no avail. The Vision for Whitby public consultation in May highlighted a significant perception of road danger at many junctions for pedestrians. So far, we have not had a positive response. Our video highlights our road safety fears and preferred solution.

Whitby has an old and aging population – double the national average of over 60s. Over 70s are five times more likely to be killed on a road than other ages. Note that any serious collision incurs a massive financial impact on the state. Life expectancies in the Whitby area are amongst the lowest countywide, with a declared NYC public health strategy to address health inequalities, yet action is not yet promised to effectively mitigate road danger.

A secondary school merger, in Sept 2024, means that 400 children will walk alongside dangerous roads, some set at 40mph – facing just 10% survival levels if hit. Vision scientists have proven that children under 14 cannot cope with crossing traffic over 20mph. Their eyesight and visual processing can’t cope with looming – understanding the sizes of traffic travelling fast – no amount of road training can change that. Effective road danger reduction solutions include lowering speed limits, education for voluntary driver compliance and enforcement.

Whitby has very poor road crossings. North Yorkshire Councillors have yet to fund the amalgamated school’s safer routes. Whitby people are justified in their great and growing fears and concern for child duty of care and for the safety of their elderly, disabled and visitor populations. Whitby must become a safer place to be to thrive for its health and economic future.

Cycling to school is omitted from all Whitby school travel plans due to a high risk assessment. Childhood obesity is a significant related problem. Few people currently cycle in Whitby. In the Active Lives survey Scarborough borough has about 9% of people cycling once per week. As Whitby has far less infrastructure its levels are significantly lower. Whilst Scarborough has a plan to significantly expand its cycle infrastructure further, Whitby does not. When you have all GP surgeries, who have to cope with related health issues on a daily basis, as well as the majority of schools backing the move for increased active travel as well as default 20mph, Councillors really do need to listen.

The people of Whitby, and indeed the majority of North Yorkshire residents, want confidence that they have elected County Councillors who tackle road safety issues that blight lives. Councillors have powers to set local speed limits and must urgently use those powers. Road violence kills ten times more people than murder and prevents vulnerable people from getting about.

20’s Plenty for North Yorkshire is calling on all combined authority Mayoral candidates to commit to road danger reduction, and pledge to support a 20mph default speed limit where vulnerable road users mix with motor traffic unless protected by separated infrastructure.

Concerned residents have launched a petition for the target of 0 killed or seriously injured by 2030, with an intermediate target of a 50% reduction by 2027. Normalising 20mph is key to its achievement. The wording is:

“We petition City of York Council & N Yorks Combined Authority to reduce traffic harm by adopting the Vision Zero target of zero killed or serious road injuries by 2030 with an intermediate target of 50% fewer vulnerable road user KSI’s by 2027. We call for Safe Systems and traffic reduction; key is a 20mph default limit in built-up areas across the region and speed reduction on all road classes, including arterials where people are.”

Links to the online and paper versions of the petition are at Action Vision Zero in York & North Yorkshire. Over 200 signatures have already been gathered in person and online. 1000 triggers a council debate.

The City of York Council Road Safety consultation is open till Sunday 4th February 2024 at Any York or North Yorkshire resident can reply. The Town and Parish Councils of 153 North Yorkshire Parish areas support wide area signed 20mph limits (signage not humps, default 20mph not blanket, with exceptions where justified).

Share this