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20mph speed limits in Wales

I may have missed it but I've not seen this discussed here.

A (non cycling) message board I belong to has been in meltdown, 'long delays to my journey', 'more accidents caused by drivers staring at their speedometers',  'increased pollution caused by slower traffic and car engines being inefficient at 20mph'.

Also many of them signing a protest petition despite non of them being Welsh or living in Wales!

 

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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150 comments

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bikeman01 replied to andystow | 4 months ago
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On the right side I see a barrier. On the left, none, but lets see the stats on cars that lost control on this arrow straight piece of road which resulted in injury to pedestrians and then compare it to the casualties caused by pedestrians stepping out into the road without looking. 

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mattw replied to quiff | 4 months ago
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Most of Western Avenue, Cardiff - that road - is marked as a Stage 3 exception, with a TRO in preparation.

The only bit to remain at 20mph looks like being the short stretch which passes the University and the Cathedral.

My general view of 20mph is - yes inside community boundaries, but consider classified roads (As and Bs) for an exception.

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quiff replied to mattw | 4 months ago
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Yeah, that's why I'm confused. The 20mph section of Western Ave is very short (circled below) and, because of the river, public parks etc in the area (and therefore lack of surrounding roads), it seems to me you'd have to take quite a long detour to avoid it. But I'm sure I'm guilty of just thinking of routes I take. Just because I don't have the imagination to do it, doesn't mean others aren't!    

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
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Dual carriageways have definitely had their speeds reduced in Cardiff.

Western Avenue in Cardiff is now a mixture of 20 and 30 mph limits. Previously it was mainly 40.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 4 months ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

Dual carriageways have definitely had their speeds reduced in Cardiff. Western Avenue in Cardiff is now a mixture of 20 and 30 mph limits. Previously it was mainly 40.

That's curious as I wouldn't think that a dual carriageway would be counted as a residential road or busy pedestrian street. I wonder what the reasoning behind that is?

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quiff replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
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Rich is talking about the same road I posted above. There is a University on that stretch, and it's congested, but it isn't an obvious candidate for 20mph IMO. 

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hawkinspeter replied to quiff | 4 months ago
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quiff wrote:

Rich is talking about the same road I posted above. There is a University on that stretch, and it's congested, but it isn't an obvious candidate for 20mph IMO. 

Maybe it's the foot traffic from the University that has earnt it a lower speed limit

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
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There's already a bridge and 2 tunnels and a light controlled crossing.

After the university it's a pure dual carriageway, now at 30 mph.

It's not just the 20mph limits that were changed.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 4 months ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

There's already a bridge and 2 tunnels and a light controlled crossing. After the university it's a pure dual carriageway, now at 30 mph. It's not just the 20mph limits that were changed.

Well, I can't add any local knowledge to this but I'm quite happy for as many roads as possible to be 20mph - YMMV.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
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The problem is that 20mph limits on that particular road lead to more traffic on nearby residential roads including mine.

If the dual carriageway is busy and you can only travel at 20mph on it why not switch to the residential roads which have the same limit.

In general I'm a supporter of the 20mph limits and my road has had one for quite a while.

The default limit switch appears to have had quite a few unintended consequences though.

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quiff replied to Rich_cb | 4 months ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

The problem is that 20mph limits on that particular road lead to more traffic on nearby residential roads including mine.

If the dual carriageway is busy and you can only travel at 20mph on it why not switch to the residential roads which have the same limit.

In general I'm a supporter of the 20mph limits and my road has had one for quite a while.

The default limit switch appears to have had quite a few unintended consequences though.

I'm not denying your experience, but I'm a bit surprised to hear that. Can't think of obvious sensible alternatives to Western Ave. But maybe satnavs do. Did you not get displaced traffic before when the limit was 30, but congestion meant nobody was even doing 20?

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Rich_cb replied to quiff | 4 months ago
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If you look at where the A48 comes round to join Western avenue there's a large residential area bounded by those roads and Llandaf/Cardiff road.

At peak times, when there is significant congestion, people have always cut through that area but now far more people are cutting through at all times, the speed limits are largely the same so it's now probably quicker to cut through the residential areas than follow the arterial roads. I suspect this is Sat Nav driven but it's definitely got worse since the speed limit changes.

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bikeman01 replied to quiff | 4 months ago
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quiff wrote:

I'm not denying your experience, but I'm a bit surprised to hear that. Can't think of obvious sensible alternatives to Western Ave. But maybe satnavs do. Did you not get displaced traffic before when the limit was 30, but congestion meant nobody was even doing 20?

A lot of the comments here are from the armchair warriors adopting the 30mph bad, 20mph good, just like I expect decisions are made by local authorities.

Change usually has unexpected consequences and these shouldn't be dismissed just because they arent expected.

In the case of rat running, I would have thought this would have been expected and obvious. Think about it, the enforcement of speed limits is typically on main roads, if these are reduced to 20mph along with neighbouring residential areas, drivers will try to avoid them by rat running through the residential areas which they know are unlilkely to have enforcement and they can exceed 20mph. Yes rat running happened when all roads were 30mph but there was little advantage to do so since you couldnt realistically exceed 30mph on residential streets. The situation now is reversed.

It is also the case that many main roads within Swansea are very congested and there is now every chance of making better progress by cutting though residential areas. Why bother joining the queue if you know it will never speed up.

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mattw replied to Rich_cb | 4 months ago
5 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

The problem is that 20mph limits on that particular road lead to more traffic on nearby residential roads including mine. If the dual carriageway is busy and you can only travel at 20mph on it why not switch to the residential roads which have the same limit. In general I'm a supporter of the 20mph limits and my road has had one for quite a while. The default limit switch appears to have had quite a few unintended consequences though.

You need an LTN !

I think that it will be a year before we can judge TBH - look for a monitoring report in September 2024.

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Rich_cb replied to mattw | 4 months ago
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I wish!

Unfortunately a lot of the roads were LTN'ed before LTNs were invented and mine wasn't one of them!

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Rich_cb | 4 months ago
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The Western Way had been 30mph for awhile and is mainly single carriageway albeit with two lanes of traffic each direction. So they decided not to exempt it which would be the local council's decision. 

As for the knock-on for Eastern Way, I'm guessing they didn't want 40mph traffic suddenly encountering 20mph traffic so dropped that one, which again sounds more like the local councils decision rather then the Senedd's. As it is almost a motorway with an hard shoulder and slip roads, it is a poor decision. 

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bikeman01 replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:
quiff wrote:

Rich is talking about the same road I posted above. There is a University on that stretch, and it's congested, but it isn't an obvious candidate for 20mph IMO. 

Maybe it's the foot traffic from the University that has earnt it a lower speed limit

Drunk students unable to look up from their phones when crossing the road? Changing the enviroment is easier than tacking the problem.

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capedcrusader replied to Rich_cb | 3 months ago
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And, and they didn't put the bloody signs up until after they had installed and activated the flippin traffic camera. Hence for a short while that camera became the most lucrative moneyspinner for any police force in the UK (~4000 people in a few days)

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chrisonabike replied to bikeman01 | 4 months ago
3 likes

Throwing no shade on your mum!

However:

Getting used to a dual carriageway being 20mph instead of 30mph (yes, I know the better solution to guide speed choice would be to rebuild it single-lane with curves, trees etc.) is just "change", no?

Same goes for "having to concentrate on the speedo" when keeping to 20 as opposed to keeping to 30.  It's just change.  We all learn habits, and do lots of things by "feel".  Yes, it will take time to seem "normal".  No particularly good reason why that won't happen in time that I know of?  Unless everyone's been issued with supercars with binary accellerators?

Some people are driving at 15mph?  Great!  It worked!  If Swansea's full of commodious dual carriageways, and people feel you need to, surely just overtake them (at up to 20mph) if it is safe and appropriate to do so?

Plenty of aggression from frustrated drivers and overtaking in inappropriate places?  Lots of rat running down side streets?  How much more of this is there than before?  Is it just that the change means people's level of arousal has gone up and thus it's now noticed where it wasn't before?

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60kg lean keen ... replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
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Plenty of aggression from frustrated drivers and overtaking in inappropriate places?  Lots of rat running down side streets?  How much more of this is there than before?  Is it just that the change means people's level of arousal has gone up and thus it's now noticed where it wasn't before?

I have never been overtaken in residential areas with such frequency, since the introduction of the 20mph limit, also being aggressively tailgated on a daily basis! (I passed my test in 1989!!)

In many towns and villages we in Wales have lots of NC roads and B roads that skirt or go up and around hills - valleys - rivers for example outside of our towns and villages, now it is either quicker or perceived to be quicker to use these roads (some are single track) than go into the 20Mph zones. This is happening now and is a common new driving route choice behaviour.

These are my observations as to how things have changed since the change to 20mph, and talking to a wide cohort of others, their experience, and observations also!

 

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chrisonabike replied to 60kg lean keen climbing machine | 4 months ago
1 like

Thanks for local observations again.

Also again - keep us posted.

I'm not surprised to see all kinds of changes at the start. There will be a period of people getting used to this. *

This doesn't help your immediate experience!

Apparently it did immediately have one "does what it says on the tin" effect eg. average speeds went down. Although of course because negative effects of collisions are not merely linear with increasing speeds bringing down the higher band of speeds is a key metric (and the actual KSI data! ).

(* There's also "what the computer tells us to do". Some smart people I know are remarkably ready to take suggestions based on online traffic info as truth. They might be right, just surprised to see their immediate acceptance of this.)

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stonojnr replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
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There is something about speed perception on dual carriageways that makes lower speed limits require more concentration though.

I can happily drive at 20mph on a residential road, 30mph on neighbouring roads, i know the right gear & revs combination that I know what speeds im doing without constantly checking.

But they had roadworks with a 30mph limit on the A12 recently, working on the side of the road, so both lanes were still open.

It was much harder for some reason to keep to that 30mph, without constantly checking the speedo. Didn't help the majority of traffic was zipping by you at 60mph still.

But you always felt you were going too slowly, when you weren't.

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chrisonabike replied to stonojnr | 4 months ago
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I don't disagree there's a perceptual effect.  Anyone can confirm this - just spend say 15 minutes at "free flow speed" on a motorway, then come off it.  Now driving along at the same 30mph you were making good progress at before you were on the motorway feels waaaay slow.

As I keep repeating - it's clear to almost everyone that just changing a number isn't a great way to change speeds.

However - the "but it feels odd" - it's just change.  It will become normal - people learn.

Why are we making the change?  To reduce speeds.  Why do we think that changing a number does anything?  Well, there's a range of evidence showing it does.  No it certainly doesn't mean that everyone will do 20mph.  But speeds generally come down (and IIRC including the higher speeds, which are associated with much increased risk of serious injuries / death).

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chrisonabike replied to bikeman01 | 4 months ago
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On "but we had dual carriageways - reducing the speed just doesn't compute".

I don't know if there are longer term plans but hopefully this would be a part of a more general traffic reduction strategy.  (Sadly - sometimes change has to be "too much, too fast" else nothing happens, but can't be "just get it all over with at once").

Here's an example of what this might look like.  But this was probably only possible as part of a longer-term strategy.  Perhaps we just can't get *directly* there from here?

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Col.G | 4 months ago
4 likes

Could be argued that any motorist becoming agitated to the point of causing more accidents after a few mins delay, is mentally unfit to hold a driving license.

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RMF | 5 months ago
8 likes

https://nation.cymru/opinion/shocking-facebook-posts-prove-20mph-row-is-...

RT Davies and the tories really are toxic knobends. Bet they wouldn't like to be reminded that 7 out of 11 tory MS's voted FOR the motion when it was passed in the Senedd in 2020. RT didn't vote. Now they spout toxic drivel - absolute hypocrites.
Don't think RT would be happy to see this photo either......

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David9694 | 5 months ago
3 likes

oldfatwelshwhinger : I don't know anything about the the 20 mph limit at the end of my road until I was flagged down by a police car and given "words of advice" 

david9694: your point?

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David9694 | 5 months ago
1 like

Wales Online are being pretty sensible about the issue 

Why the toxic debate over 20mph masks a massive missed opportunity

It is naïve and wrong to just dismiss this petition

"Presiding officer Elin Jones was clearly rattled and upset by threats and the commentary towards elected members and their staff. I'm told Lee Waters warned colleagues to be on their guard if they were out in public this weekend. My colleagues and I have received horrific, abusive messages for sharing factual pieces."

Gonna say it again: a lot of this only has a passing acquaintance with transportation.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/mark-drakeford-20mph-speed-l...

 

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yupiteru | 5 months ago
11 likes

20mph signs went up on the A road in my village in south Wales last week and there was an instant change for the better in my opinion

 

Quieter, more relaxed, much nicer environment, in fact it was a remarkable transformation with most drivers respecting the limit and amazing how easy it is just to cross the road now!

 

Much more positive effect than I was expecting, with all the big talk from many motorists stating they will ignore it, in reality most are complying with the law or at least going much slower (as I suspected most would).

 

Should have been done sooner in my opinion.  The local 'Nextdoor' social media anti 20mph toxic group, have gradually began to post less since the introduction, as the fears of change slowly fades away and they realise 20mph is not everywhere as they were told by the fearmongers, and is only in built up areas and hardly makes any difference to their journeys.

 

Same when seat-belts, anti drink driving and compulsory helmets on motorbikes laws were introduced, you will always get a hardcore of cultists, who will cling on for as long as possible to an issue because largely they have nothing better to do with their time.

 

Oh and the 'fake' petion that can be signed by the same person multiple times so is meaningless, will be debated in the Senedd and then 'binned' just like the last anti 20mph petition - believe me that is what will happen.

 

20mph was clearly in the Welsh Labour manifesto and was one reason I voted for them, so it has been a democratic process (as they are the party in power in Wales) despite claims to the contrary.

 

Obviously we are all entitled to our opinion, but for me it is a positive experience so far in my locality just north of Cardiff.

 

The fuss will soon die down and people will wonder what they were worried about and hopefully direct their energy towards important issues effecting our country.

 

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Rendel Harris replied to yupiteru | 5 months ago
6 likes

Thanks for that, great to hear real life experience and that it's actually working. May I ask your opinion on the claim that "many people" weren't aware of the 20 mph changes before they were implemented? From (as I've been reminded, a London perspective) it appeared that they were very well publicised, certainly most people in England seem to have heard of them.

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