Campaign launched for nationwide 20mph speed limit as Road Safety Week begins

Brake and Sustrans among charities leading calls for lower speed limit to be introduced in residential areas across England

by Simon_MacMichael   November 19, 2012  

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A number of charities led by Sustrans have joined forces to launch a campaign calling for 20mph to be made the default speed limit on roads in built-up areas. The campaign, GO 20, is launched today to coincide with the start of Road Safety Week, which continues until next Sunday 25 November.

While some local authorities in England have already introduced 20mph speed limits on all or some of their roads – Oxford and Portsmouth, for instance, have city-wide limits, while Merseyside is introducing it on an area by area basis – Brake and the organisations that have joined it the campaign are calling for such a limit to be introduced nationwide.

In the meantime, they are asking more local authorities to implement the speed limit, as well as appealing to motorists to reduce their speed to 20mph when driving near schools, shops and residential areas.

A survey of 8,000 schoolchildren aged 7-11 years conducted by Brake, Brain Injury Group and Specavers ahead of Road Safety Week and the launch of GO20 found: 

Seven in 10 (70%) say they would be able to walk and cycle more if roads in their neighbourhood were less dangerous
More than three-quarters (77%) say drivers need to slow down around their home and school

Four in 10 (43%) say they have been hit or nearly hit while walking or cycling, and more than half (54%) worry about being hurt by traffic when out and about

72% said they would like to walk and cycle more than they do at present

75% would like more traffic-free cycle paths in their area, while 61% would like more footpaths, pavements and crossings, which they could use to get to school, the park, shops or to see friends

38% said they are not allowed to walk unaccompanied and 47% said they are not allowed to cycle unaccompanied.

Brake and the other charities involved in the initiative, which besides Sustrans include Living Streets, the National Heart Forum, 20’s Plenty for Us, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Ramblers, say that implementing the lower speed limit would result in:

Fewer casualties: at 20, drivers have much more time to react, to help them stop in time if they need to, like if a child runs out. Studies show that when 20 limits replace 30, it means fewer casualties among pedestrians and cyclists.

More walking and cycling: danger from traffic is a major barrier in enabling more people to walk and cycle. Town and city-wide 20 limits have resulted in more people walking and cycling.

Healthier, happier people: More walking and cycling means healthier people, and more enjoyable outdoors activity for kids and adults. It helps communities interact and be communities.

Less pollution: GOing 20 means lower emissions from vehicle journeys. Plus if more people can switch their commute or school run to foot or bike, it means less polluting traffic.

Lower costs: Poor health from inactivity costs society dearly. Road casualties cost even more, due to the suffering and burden on health and emergency services.

Preventing casualties and improving health means GOing 20 pays for itself many times over. It also helps people save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about: foot and bike.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “GO 20 is all about enabling people to walk and cycle without fear or threat.

“If we are to bring about a 2012 legacy of more active communities, we need to make our streets and communities safer places.

“Fleet operators can play an essential role in bringing this about, by ensuring their drivers always put protecting people first, and understand the vital importance of slowing down.

“Our main message in Road Safety Week is appealing to drivers to stay well within limits, and slow down to 20 around homes, schools and shops.

“It makes roads safer for walking and cycling, and makes little difference to journey times.

“It’s great so many fleet operators are getting involved and helping to communicate this and other life-saving messages this year.

“We urge other employers to register on the Road Safety Week website to get our free guidance on managing driver speed.”

The campaign will be formally launched at 1030 this morning with a walking and cycling street party at William Tyndale Primary School in the London Borough of Islington, the first in London to introduce a borough-wide 20mph peed limit.

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of Sustrans, commented: “A 20mph national speed limit would save lives and make our streets better places to socialise, play, walk and cycle.

“It would also improve our health, tackling obesity and heart disease as well as reducing the burden on the NHS.

“A 20mph limit is already in place in many parts of the country, but a postcode lottery where children are safer in some areas than others is not acceptable.

“A new national limit would save money for public health, education and transport budgets, and the Government should now act to lower speeds on streets where we live, work and play."
 

26 user comments

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Thank god.

Now we just need country lanes to have a max of 40mph.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1082 posts]
19th November 2012 - 8:33

2 Likes

I don't agree with this at all. Cycling doesn't carry a risk because cars drive at 30mph and not 20mph. It carries a risk because drivers don't effin' well look where they're going or before they pull out.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [928 posts]
19th November 2012 - 8:57

3 Likes

This isn't about protecting cyclists in particular. But you can't really argue with the fact that an accident at 20mph would be better than one at 30pmh.
I think this is definitely a good idea.

posted by McTag [40 posts]
19th November 2012 - 9:13

4 Likes

What amazes me is that, and I quote, "More than three-quarters (77%) say drivers need to slow down around their home and school"

My question is...... Aren't many, if not the majority of this 77% all drivers themselves, who probably speed and make short cuts through other people's residential areas and schools?

20mph is a start but it then also needs more pedestrian crossings. And it's about time that this system was changed that gives motorised vehicles right of way on side roads when it comes to pedestrians and pavements.

Pavements need to be extended across side roads with cars asking permission to cross the pavement onto the main road (as in the Dutch style) rather than the pedestrian always having to ask permission to cross.

It really is about time the motorised vehicle was knocked off of it's throne and roads given back to the people.

posted by Luv2Cycle [6 posts]
19th November 2012 - 10:06

1 Like

This is a waste of time. The same motorists that ignore the 30 mph limit will ignore the 20 mph limit. Money would be better spent on physical traffic calming measures to force speeders to slow down and prevent the creation of rat runs through residential areas.

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
19th November 2012 - 10:10

2 Likes

no point it just typing 'good idea' and 'yes i support this', for anything to happen to need to get your MP on the case.

get yourselves on www.writetothem.com
pop in your post code, write a couple of lines urging your MP to support it and press fire, that's pretty much it.

Its so easy it'd be rude not too Smile

posted by mrchrispy [313 posts]
19th November 2012 - 10:45

2 Likes

Luv2Cycle wrote:
What amazes me is that, and I quote, "More than three-quarters (77%) say drivers need to slow down around their home and school"

My question is...... Aren't many, if not the majority of this 77% all drivers themselves, who probably speed and make short cuts through other people's residential areas and schools?

Research was among children aged 7-11, so unless they're from an area with a particularly bad joyriding problem, no Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8382 posts]
19th November 2012 - 10:50

3 Likes

Some of the commenst are not quite accurate. In Portsmouth (I was there recently), the 20 limit applies to residential streets, the through routes and major roads are 30 limit. No signs of a lot of enforcement, but traffic is slowed simply by thelevels of congestion. The real problem there (and probably in many urban areas) is later in the evenings when some drivers just tear about in the dark, with no consideration of consequence. Just when you need the cameras about!
So far as a 40 limit on country roads is concerned, Surrey has done this, and the net result is no-one bothers, as it's often not appropriate (long wide straight of over a mile, no junctions?) and enforcement is not done.
The whole point of having laws or rules is that evenyone can sign up and agree they are a positive thing, and if that does not happen and the laws/rules are essentially unenforceable, then it's not good law/rule making.
All law works by public consent, without that it's not going to work - so a PR campaign has to go alongside any proposals. And where is the money for that?

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
19th November 2012 - 10:56

3 Likes

PaulVWatts wrote:
This is a waste of time. The same motorists that ignore the 30 mph limit will ignore the 20 mph limit. Money would be better spent on physical traffic calming measures to force speeders to slow down and prevent the creation of rat runs through residential areas.

I could do without traffic calming if this just means narrowing the road and creating pinch points so that cyclists are forced to share space with motor vehicles that are desperate to overtake and race to the next pinch point.

posted by HKCambridge [161 posts]
19th November 2012 - 10:59

1 Like

An accident at 20 is likely to be less serious than an accident at 30, but I worry that the angry minority will a. grow, and b. go blasting past at 35 in frustration. Currently, this doesn't usually have a major effect, but if the majority of the traffic is travelling at the same speed as me, then I'll be sat in primary position when they do this. Potential unintended consequences here, I think.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3414 posts]
19th November 2012 - 11:03

2 Likes

I think the 20mph limit in residential areas is a great idea. But I do ride and drive along a few streets where there is a 20mph limit. I've noticed that when I'm on my motorbike or in my car and stick to 20mph, there's often some frustrated twit tailgating me because they want to overtake, despite the fact that those routes mostly have speedbumps that beat the hell out of your suspension if you do top 20mph. When I ride them on my bike, they can also be dangerous due to those same frustrated twits using the roads as rat runs and weaving along narrow roads with loads of parked cars. I use a couple of roads like that in Dulwich in South London regularly, and they are dangerous whether you're on two wheels or four, because so many drivers don't give a hoot about the 20mph limit.

Basically, proper enforcement is needed, otherwise it's a non-starter.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
19th November 2012 - 11:35

2 Likes

Like a lot of others on here I feel that this may not be necessary, if we enforced the existing laws, educated drivers and changed the "car" culture in this country.
I don't mind somebody overtaking me at thirty as long as they do it properly and safely. I believe there was a post recently on a similar subject where they stated rather 30mph with room, than 20mph and within a hair's breadth of my handlebar.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [603 posts]
19th November 2012 - 12:19

1 Like

Pinch points can be made so that cyclists aren't affected by them - if the council bothers engineering them with cyclists in mind, and does it properly.

posted by Paul J [664 posts]
19th November 2012 - 13:03

2 Likes

Paul J wrote:
Pinch points can be made so that cyclists aren't affected by them - if the council bothers engineering them with cyclists in mind, and does it properly.

Yep, pinch points can be good if designed properly, but they usually aren't and can make roads worse if they're not done properly which seems to be more often than not.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
19th November 2012 - 13:08

3 Likes

Paul J wrote:
Pinch points can be made so that cyclists aren't affected by them - if the council bothers engineering them with cyclists in mind, and does it properly.

There's a nasty one in Bath that I ride through most days. I contacted the council highways dept about it, and to paraphrase, they just said "tough".

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [262 posts]
19th November 2012 - 13:14

3 Likes

Lets go the whole hog, make the speed limit 5mph and 20 on major trunk roads, look how safe that will be.

I support lots of 20mph zones, around schools etc. but why can't they then be 30 after say 8:00pm !, its not correct to have such low speed limits late on.

Also... I see more cyclists speeding past my local school than cars, breaking the 20mph limit, it is on a hill and congested.

Anyway, the issue is not fully speed, its crap driving standards, this is just a cheap way of trying to get around that fact, lets have a re-test every 3 years, lets have average cameras around towns, ltes have tougher laws for people who speed, bring the points ban down to 6 points, there are far more effective ways.

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
19th November 2012 - 13:27

3 Likes

Putting in more road furniture or leaving things as they are isn't an option anymore. Most of the misconceptions of 20mph limits can be answered by checking out the '20 is plenty' website.

To answer Paul W:

No traffic calming is needed as it's not a 'zone' but a blanket 'limit'. It can cost as little as £200 per road.

As for people not respecting the limit. I already practice driving at 20mph and none of the speeders are overtaking me on residential roads.... Once 50% of us are doing 20mph everyone will. They will have no choice. It may sound bossy but we've been asked to drive at 30mph and respect other road users and upwards of 60% of road users are taking no notice.

The death rate difference between 20 mph and 30 mph is on the website.

I wouldn't mind if people did 30mph but they're complaining that cycling isn't safe for their kids - whilst doing 35-40mph in a 30mph speed limit area themselves. This has to stop and if we can force people to cut their speed to at most 25mph it will be a big help - regardless of what the naysayers think.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1082 posts]
19th November 2012 - 17:50

2 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
Paul J wrote:
Pinch points can be made so that cyclists aren't affected by them - if the council bothers engineering them with cyclists in mind, and does it properly.

Yep, pinch points can be good if designed properly, but they usually aren't and can make roads worse if they're not done properly which seems to be more often than not.

And even when they are designed with a separate way through for cyclists, I find they're normally blocked by inconsiderately parked cars!

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
19th November 2012 - 19:08

3 Likes

I'd rather everyone just stuck to 30mph when it's a 30mph limit rather than having 20mph speed limits.

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [191 posts]
19th November 2012 - 19:45

4 Likes

On my 5 mile drive home tonight I saw 3 cars go through red lights, one guy on a mobile and based on the speed relative to me, almost everyone was speeding in a 30. 20mph is all well and good but there just isn't enough enforcement. Drivers who break the law know there'a almost no chance they'll be caught, and if they are practically nothing will happen to them. I'd be a lot happier if we just put more effort into enforcing current laws, but would still like to see the 20mph as at least it might lower the overall speed

Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [188 posts]
19th November 2012 - 20:09

2 Likes

30 is fine, slower and it's difficult to draft effectively and you have to keep overtaking the mobile chicanes (cars)

lifes goal is not to arrive at the grave in a perfectly preserved body, but to skid in sideways yelling "yeah what a ride!"

posted by wheelsucker [49 posts]
19th November 2012 - 20:17

1 Like

I have to agree with Scott Sportster '08. If you get hit by a car at 20mph vs 30 it isn't going to make a world of difference; you'll still be in some solid pain. I think efforts should be made to educate motorists and raise the standards we hold them to and not just try to slow them down. If they are talking on the cell it won't matter they will still hit cyclists.

new-to-cycling's picture

posted by new-to-cycling [47 posts]
19th November 2012 - 20:37

3 Likes

They should ban people from moving at all

posted by kylemalco [33 posts]
19th November 2012 - 20:40

2 Likes

Ridiculous.

Collett73's picture

posted by Collett73 [14 posts]
19th November 2012 - 23:00

2 Likes

new-to-cycling wrote:
I have to agree with Scott Sportster '08. If you get hit by a car at 20mph vs 30 it isn't going to make a world of difference; you'll still be in some solid pain. I think efforts should be made to educate motorists and raise the standards we hold them to and not just try to slow them down. If they are talking on the cell it won't matter they will still hit cyclists.

Survivability of a pedestrian hit by a car at 20mph is 97%, it's 80% at 30mph and 50% at 35mph. Yes, is does make a difference. If someone is going to hit you due to inattention, you want them to do it at 20, given the choice.

Not sure how those figures are modified for cyclists: suspect it will depend on how fast the cyclist is going and in what direction.

Not to mention that stopping distance is doubled at 30mph so the chance of avoiding an accident completely is materially reduced.

posted by HKCambridge [161 posts]
20th November 2012 - 11:45

2 Likes

The problem with anything above 30mph is what the Police call the cartwheel effect. As you are hit the car travels onwards and you go over the roof. It's not just the impact with the car but the impact with the road behind the car which kills at higher speeds.

Wishing that 30mph could be respected is like wishing people didn't drink and drive. It was far more common for people to drink and drive before it was stamped on and a combination of police and peer pressure will achieve results with 20mph.

We keep looking at Holland and saying 'that could never happen here'. I remember the smoking ban and tablet pcs weren't a silly idea as well.

Don't contact your MP. They have nothing to do with it. It is the responsibility of your local councillors to implement it if you want it.

The best one I ever saw was the bloke on the TfL site saying that he was going to spite Ken Livingston over the congestion charge - by buying an electric car! That was Ken told good and proper... Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1082 posts]
20th November 2012 - 14:20

1 Like