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20mph

Our urban areas need more 20mph speed limits to create safer streets, and more vibrant communities where people live, work and shop. 

What we want

In our towns and cities, 20mph speed limits must become a national standard, ending the mismatch of speed limits in our urban areas.

We know 20mph limits help to create safer and more vibrant streets where people live, work and shop.

And that's it forms a crucial part of our call for an active travel bill which would make it easier to get around by foot.

Why an active travel bill will help us make 20mph a national standard

We're proud of our part in getting more 20mph zones introduced across the country.

Now, if we’re going to see the kind of change we want for pedestrians in the long term, we need a new law that prioritises pedestrians.

Our 2015 general election manfesto spells out how this will work.

And we would love for you to join us by asking your MP to support Living Streets' manifesto.

The story so far

  • Working in coalition with Go20 we have more 20mph limits across our towns and cities.
  • Have a read of some of our 20mph success stories up and down the country.

Will it take me longer to get around at 20 mph?

No. Lower speeds increase road capacities, as the bunching effect at junctions is reduced as traffic flow improves. That’s why urban motorways are often 40 or 50 mph, as opposed to 70 mph. Even an urban journey of three miles, taking 30 minutes in a 30 mph limit, was shown to only increase to 33 minutes in a 20 mph setting.

Do car drivers want a 20 mph speed limit?

The 2011 British Attitudes Survey demonstrates that well over two-thirds of us, including motorists, would like a 20mph speed limit in the streets where we live. In Portsmouth, over 40 per cent of respondents stated that since the introduction of 20 mph, there has been a safer environment for walking and cycling. Around a third of respondents noticed an increase in pedestrian and cyclist activities in the local area.

Surely it’s impossible to enforce 20 mph speed limits?

The police are obliged to enforce all speed limits. The evidence is that drivers drop their speed when a 20 mph limit is enforced. 20 mph should become largely self-enforcing, as good drivers obeying the limit will act as a restraint on others exceeding it. In Portsmouth, streets where average speeds were previously higher than 24 mph, decreased limits have helped reduce speed by an average of 6.3 mph (http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/speed-limits-portsmouth/). This occurred without the need for any extra police enforcement.

How can local authorities afford to introduce 20 mph in this economic climate?

Road traffic collisions are an enormous drain on the economy, costing the UK £18 billion every year. The 20 mph zones in London are estimated to already be saving more than £20 million in crash prevention anually. The cost of road signs is remarkably low. For example, Portsmouth converted 1200 streets to 20mph for just over £500,000 – far cheaper than the alternative ideas put forward, which came to £2.2 million. It’s roughly seven times more cost effective, in terms of speed reduction achieved, to introduce a 20 mph limit across a wide area, than to spend the same sum on isolated, physically calmed zones.

Not only that, but introducing lower speeds has proven to yield positive results for local businesses. Campaigning stalwart Caroline Russell and Living Streets media volunteer Sophie Coleman 'vox-popped' business owners and employees in two areas of Islington to find out what they thought of the proposals for 20 mph speed limits on all roads in the borough - and the results were positive. Editing by Ian James - www.ianjam.es