Between 6 February and 7 April 2022, 439 voters in Harrogate voted cumulatively 13,384 times using an anonymous online conversational tool, hosted on the Harrogate District Consensus website, concerning the issue of whether there should be a default speed limit of 20mph within and around Harrogate. The voters suggested over 100 statements for fellow Harrogatonians to vote upon.
The poll results can be found here: https://polis.crowdwisdom.wpengine.com/report/r5sbf8cb5mjj5mawp3wtc.
The results revealed a strong consensus amongst the voters of Harrogate for 20mph zones outside of schools, as a default. Voters also were of the view that many pavements in Harrogate do not have sufficient depth or coverage. A weak consensus was found about the need to increase the number of road-calming measures, such as flashing speed signs.
Commenting on the results, the founder of Harrogate District Consensus (and the Crowd Wisdom Project), Andrew Gray, said:
“The consensus from 13,384 votes was clear: the people in Harrogate want to see 20mph zones outside all schools and they want to see them enforced with traffic-calming measures. This seems an achievable request, which we hope the council officers and all candidates in the forthcoming election take heed of.
People also want to see greater depth to pavements, though this would be a far more complex and costly exercise for the council to implement. Flashing street signs, warning motorists if they have broken a speed limit, were also popular.
These consensus points are eminently sensible views, shared widely throughout this area. In the run-up to the local elections, this platform endeavours to obtain more in-depth polling data on a town than has ever been seen in the UK. Candidates will soon be able to add their profiles and personal statements to our platform, as well as being asked their views on the discovered consensus points. Further conversations can be found at www.HarrogateDistrictConsensus.org.”
The Polis voting system is different from normal surveys as it seeks to understand, rather than to explicitly quantify, what people think. Polis is able to survey millions of people at the same time, in their own words, and all carried out anonymously. Anonymity means that voters need not fear being cancelled, or shouted-down, for expressing unpopular views.
The results of this conversation show how people voted on the 113 statements, regarding this important topic. Candidates, officers, campaign groups and interested citizens might be intrigued by the specific votes on the various and diverse 113 statements.
Areas of strong consensus
- Outside schools 20mph should be the default. (Statement 14).
- Pavements are not sufficient in depth or coverage. (Statement 99).
Areas of weak consensus
- Greater use of road calming such as flashing speed signs (Statement 34).
This poll did not hope to sample in a structured manner, rather it used self-selection sampling that allowed opinion groups to organically form through individual responses. Therefore, the size of each opinion group may not represent the percentage of the population that holds those opinions. In general, the results should be interpreted at the opinion group level and not at the poll level.
The data were independently analysed by Harrogate data scientist, Anthony Dixon.