City of London studying introduction of 20mph speed limit

Measure designed to improve cyclists' safety follows consultation over transport policy

by Simon_MacMichael   March 30, 2011  

City of London from the Thames copyright Simon MacMichael .jpg

The City of London Corporation is considering imposing 20mph speed limits on some or perhaps all of the streets in the capital’s Square Mile under proposals designed explicitly to improve the safety of cyclists, due in part to a massive rise in the number of people using bikes there.

The reduced speed limit could be applied just to local streets within the City, London’s historical financial district, or could be extended to “red routes” administered by Transport for London (TfL), reports the Evening Standard.

John Biggs, Labour London Assembly member for the City and East, told the newspaper: "I think the City of London is almost the perfect place to have a 20mph zone because of the number of pedestrians and cyclists and its narrow streets.

"There are a number of streets which are TfL roads, such as Bishopsgate, Farringdon and Lower Thames Street. It would be good if TfL could comply with this as well."

The idea of reducing speed limits follows a public consultation on how to implement transport policy drawn up across the Thames at City Hall within the Square Mile, with more than 90% of the responses received coming from cyclists.

The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has welcomed the proposals, saying that the speed limit would contribute towards a reduction in what it termed an “unacceptable" number of cyclists killed or injured in the City, a figure that has risen since 2003.

The introduction of such a limit is the subject of a long-running campaign by LCC local group City Cyclists, and more information regarding that can be found here.

Another proposal being considered by TfL is reducing the speed limit to 20mph on four of the capital’s bridges, joining Tower Bridge where the lower limit is already in force and has improved safety of cyclists, says the Standard. Such a measure would save an estimated £7 million each year due to the reduction in the number of accidents.

A spokesman for the City of London told the Standard: "City of London members are looking at some themes that emerged from public consultation on the draft 2011 City of London local implementation plan.

"One of those themes concerns speed limits in the City. The [streets and walkways] sub-committee felt that more consideration might be given to this and, over the next few months, members generally will consider whether they wish to examine that issue, and any others, in more detail," he added.

Incidentally, when we looked at the article on the Standard website, we were first presented with an advert splashed across the page from the Mayor of London and TfL urging drivers to “Think! Look out for motorcyclists when turning across bus lanes.”

That ad is presumably intended in part to make drivers aware that motorbikes are now allowed to use the capital’s bus lanes, although we can’t help thinking that it wouldn’t have been a bad thing to remind them to look out for pedal-powered cyclists, too.

6 user comments

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Isn't this area de-facto 20mph anyway?

posted by Fishy [55 posts]
30th March 2011 - 8:41

1 Like

' unacceptable number of cyclists killed' does this imply that there is an 'acceptable' number?


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1108 posts]
30th March 2011 - 10:01


Fishy wrote:
Isn't this area de-facto 20mph anyway?

More like 10mph if you're trying to drive through town, although this paragraph from the City Cyclists page linked in the article highlights why 20mph is preferable to 30mph:

"It was only the disastrous engineering of the 1960s with gyratories, guardrails and one-ways that made high speeds possible in the crowded mediaeval streets of the City. Very few drivers manage to get over 20mph in central London for anything more than a short burst between waiting at traffic lights. However allowing for the possibility of such speeds creates the need for more traffic signs and regulations while significantly reducing the capacity of junctions."

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9521 posts]
30th March 2011 - 11:12


antonio wrote:
' unacceptable number of cyclists killed' does this imply that there is an 'acceptable' number?

One death is one too many, of course. But the fact is, there will always be accidents, and cyclists will die, no matter how hard you try and prevent them.

I've found some figures (sourced 2007 but data I think relate to 2004/05) that show Netherlands with 1.1 cyclists killed per 100 million km cycled that year, compared to 1.5 in Denmark, 1.7 in Germany and 3.6 in the UK.

If we could get down to the levels of Denmark or even the Netherlands, I don't think there's much more that could reasonably be done, and of course the figures do demonstrate that the status of cycling as a normal, everyday means of getting around plus the safety in numbers factor is hugely influential in reducing casualty rates.

We're a bit further away from those two countries in terms of cyclists injured per 10 million km cycled. UK figure is 6.0, Germany 4.7, Denmark 1.7 and Netherlands 1.4.

The figures from the United States give pause for thought, though. Deaths are 5.8 per 100 million km cycled, while injuries are an astonishing 37.5 per 10 million km cycled.

It may be that the definition of "injury" varies from country to country (less likely between EU Member States possibly), but even so...

The report from which those data were sourced is here:

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [9521 posts]
30th March 2011 - 11:33


This would be a great idea, better if the TfL red route were included.
Mostly traffic move much slower than 20mph, but on the parts where they can go faster speeding is a problem (the Embankment for example).
A big problem with the City is the number oflarge vehicle on raods that aren't really big enough (or suitable) for them.

The City of London are more positive towards cycling than a lot of other boroughs in London. They are held back by TfL controling so many roads through the city.

posted by thereverent [357 posts]
30th March 2011 - 12:46


The problem in the city isn't speed, it's large vehicles, especially at junctions. We already have ASLs which try to make these junctions safer, but they are just not being policed.

This morning outside Moorgate I saw, not for the first time, a police officer pull over a cyclist who had carefully and at walking pace crossed a junction through a red light. Fair enough you might think, but he had ignored the two cars and three motorbikes which had entered the ASL under red.

Near where I live, we have a 20mph zone near a large concentration of schools. Once again drivers flout the limit with complete impunity. Why would things be any different in the City?

posted by AleT [53 posts]
30th March 2011 - 13:53