A report released today (30 Sept) by Brake calls for the removal of “unnecessary barriers” faced by local councils in implementing 20mph speed limits.
The report also suggests that moving to 20mph limits across built up areas would deliver “significant safety benefits”, especially for pedestrians and cyclists.
It goes on to blame “a lack of strong national government leadership… for the current UK postcode lottery when it comes to reaping the benefits of lower traffic speeds in communities”.
A FOI request to all 206 local traffic authorities in Great Britain identified some “key stumbling blocks” when it comes to implementing 20mph limits, including cost and central government guidance.
The report says: “The government’s guidance on introducing 20mph limits states trouble-free compliance is likely on roads where average traffic speeds are already 24mph or below. This has been misinterpreted by some councils as meaning 20mph limits should not be introduced on roads with higher average speeds.”
The report suggests that signs-only 20mph speed limits can be expected to achieve, “as a minimum, a 1mph reduction of average traffic speeds, leading to a 6% reduction in collisions”.
It goes on to say that where limits are backed by public awareness and enforcement campaigns, “speed reductions could be as much as 4mph, reducing collisions by almost a quarter (24%)”.
The report suggests this improvement in safety is “likely to have a positive impact on walking and cycling levels, with significant health and environmental benefits”.
Dr Tom Fisher, research manager for Brake, said: “At a time when local authority budgets are being slashed by central government, that government has a duty to do what it can to enable those authorities to spend that cash as efficiently as possible.
“However, when it comes to making streets in their communities safer, the government is tying the hands of cash-strapped councils with out-dated and unnecessary regulation.
“20mph limits are an effective and globally-recognised solution to unacceptably dangerous roads in our cities, towns, and villages. Ultimately, we would like to see 20mph become the default urban speed limit in the UK.
“In the meantime, the government can remove red tape and show stronger leadership by providing clearer and more positive guidance, and by doing away with the requirement for costly repeater signs.”
Photo: copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.