Institute of Adavanced motorists backs selective 20mph zones, CTC wants it as default urban limit

Road safety charity IAM says that two thirds of 4,000 people who responded to an online survey it conducted back the introduction of 20mph zones outside schools, but are less keen on physical measures such as cameras or speed bumps being implemented to enforce such a speed limit. IAM adds that it supports the selective introduction of 20mph limits, but national cyclists’ organisation CTC disagrees, favouring it as the default speed limit in urban and residential locations.

Four in ten of those surveyed said that 20mph signs would be the best way to enforce the limit, while only one in five backed the introduction of speed cameras and a similar proportion supported a combination of cameras and road bumps to calm traffic.

Some 38 per cent of respondents said that 20mph zones should be introduced on roads with amenities such as parks and shops, but only one in four supported it being made the default speed limit in urban areas. And while 43 per cent would like to see such a speed limit on the road they live on, only slightly fewer – 39 per cent – opposed that.

IAM head of road safety Kevin Delaney said: “The IAM supports the selective use of 20mph speed limits where there is clear evidence that the risk of casualties will be reduced. But blanket 20mph speed limits or limits at inappropriate sites risk widespread disregard by drivers who do not recognise a necessity for them. Consultation with, and buy-in from, local people here is essential.

“Passive enforcement measures, such as speed bumps, are unpopular and active enforcement by police is unrealistic in the current financial climate. If lower speed limits are restricted to locations and times where there is an obvious need, responsible drivers, who are the overwhelming majority, will adhere to them without the need for enforcement.”

IAM also quoted advanced motorist Rob Raikes, 66, who said: “In Southampton where there is a city wide 20 mph limit, motorists have found that the average journey time has increased by a very small amount, and that the stress of driving has reduced by quite a large one. Our streets should be for people, not cars.”

CTC said that while it welcomed the fact that IAM’s members backed 20mph limits, it supported “blanket implementation” rather than what it termed “the patchwork approach.”

CTC's Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen commented: "The adoption of 20mph as the default speed limit in urban and residential areas is the opportunity to redefine the spaces between our homes, changing them from 'roads' to 'streets'. With lower speeds, dangerous thoroughfares become public spaces where it’s easier to walk, cycle, socialise and play. People know more of their neighbours in low speed streets and property prices are higher, while 20mph is enough for vehicles to make progress.

"Blanket 20mph beats a patchwork of zones: residents see a bigger return because more people buy in."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.