Plans to make 20mph the default limit for residential areas in Wales appear to have moved a step closer, following a statement of support from the country’s first minister, Mark Drakeford.
Speaking during first minister’s questions on 7 May, Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government believes that 20mph zones should be the default limit for residential areas.”
Mr Drakeford cited the city-wide roll-out of 20mph limits by Cardiff Council, labelling it “a good example of what can be done.”
The first minister added the Welsh Government had already “provided hundreds of millions of pounds for small area 20mph zones” and will now set up a task force to identify how to set a national limit of 20mph for urban/village roads.
Mr Drakeford said: “Local authorities have to have discretion to retain 30mph zones on key arterial routes, but outside that, and in residential areas, we know that 20mph zones reduce speed of traffic, reduce accidents, particularly accidents to children, and we want to see that become the default position right across Wales.
“There are a whole series of advantages including the better air quality that you get through slower traffic speeds.”
The move to a default 20mph limit in residential areas looks set to meet little resistance, with John Griffiths, Labour AM, expressing cross party support – saying the policy ‘had many benefits for society’.
Mr Griffiths said: “Older people will feel happier if they’re able to walk along the streets with 20mph limits in place and parents will feel much happier in enabling their young people to play outside.
“It will enable active travel – walking and cycling – to a greater extent, so it has very, very many benefits, and I’m pleased that they’re now strongly recognised by Welsh Government.”
The power to set national speed limits was devolved to Wales last year.
Welsh Government ‘taking the lead’
The campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us has naturally welcomed the news and praised the Welsh Government for taking the lead to create a better environment for communities.
Rod King MBE, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “We are delighted that the Welsh Government is taking this historic initiative.
“Over the course of the last 12 months we have sensed an increasing demand in Welsh communities and organisations to look at how the 85 year-old 30mph limit can be replaced with a people-friendly 20mph default.
“Across the world it is recognised by organisations, including the World Health Organisation, that the safe speed for where motor vehicles mix with pedestrians and cyclists is 20mph.”