What we say
Our urban areas need more 20mph speed limits to create safer streets, and more vibrant communities where people live, work and shop.
If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 20mph they have a 97% chance of survival. Just 10mph faster it drops to 92% - all for the sake of arriving somewhere slightly earlier. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
What we want
We are calling for area-wide default 20mph speed limits, that include main roads and high streets where many people live work, shop, and play.
Already more than 20 urban authorities in the UK have a policy of setting 20mph as the default for all their streets.
In our towns and cities, 20mph speed limits must become a national standard, ending the mismatch of speed limits in our urban areas.
In 2022, Senedd Members voted in favour of introducing 20mph limits on residential roads across Wales, making it the first nation in the world to do so. The landmark legislation came into effect in 2023.
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.
How can local authorities afford to introduce 20 mph in this economic climate?
The 20 mph zones in London are estimated to already be saving more than £20 million in crash prevention annually. 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. 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.
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. In Portsmouth, streets where average speeds were previously higher than 24 mph, decreased limits have helped reduce speed by an average of 6.3 This occurred without the need for any extra police enforcement.