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New policy will benefit cyclists and pedestrians… if councils make use of their new powers

The number of 20mph zones on Britain’s roads is set to increase after the government announced plans to make it easier for councils to implement lower speed limits in a move designed to reduce casualties among cyclists and pedestrians.

Until now, councils have had to introduce designated zones and traffic calming measures such as speed bumps to put a 20mph limit in place in residential areas and on roads that have high levels of usage by cyclists and pedestrians, such as near schools.

Under the new proposals, though, councils will no longer have to do that, which according to Road Safety Minister Paul Clark will make it cheaper and easier for them to apply 20mph limits.

Mr Clark said:

"The number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain's roads has fallen by 40% since the mid-1990s and Britain now has the joint safest roads in the world. But too many pedestrians and cyclists – including many children – are still being killed or hurt on the roads around their homes and schools.

"We have seen that 20 mph zones with traffic calming measures can make a real difference to the safety of local roads. Allowing councils to put in place 20 mph speed limits on more streets without speed humps or chicanes will mean that they can introduce them at a lower cost and with less inconvenience to local residents," the minister continued. 


He added: “Allowing councils to put in place 20 mph speed limits on more streets without speed humps or chicanes will mean that they can introduce them at a lower cost and with less inconvenience to local residents.”

The new rules, which have been drawn up following a successful city-wide trial in Portsmouth, covering 94% of its road network, which found that the number of accidents fell by 15% after speed limits were reduced to 20mph.

The news follows last week’s report in the British Medical Journal which found that the introduction of 20 mph zones in parts of London had led to a reduction of almost one fifth in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured.

Recently, we reported that the London Borough of Islington plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit on most of its roads.

That initiative was applauded by Lord Adonis, who was recently profiled on Cycling England’s website. In response to the question, “What most encourages you about cycling where you live?” the transport secretary, a keen bike rider, said “new 20 mph zones throughout Islington’s residential streets, which together with traffic calming is making the area safer for cyclists.”
 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.