How the national 30mph limit is no longer fit-for-purpose

The mobility and transport world has changed significantly since the DfT last reviewed its national speed limits:

• The climate emergency has provided a focus on active travel.
• Covid has led to a re-appraisal of our streets as public places.
• The Stockholm Declaration adds real weight to the argument that 20mph or 30km/h should be the maximum speed where people and motors mix.
• Intelligent Speed Assistance is coming on all new car models, making speeding a pre-meditated action rather than an error of judgement.
• Wales has already committed to a national 20mph limit and Scotland wants it as the norm.
• Scottish academics report reduction of casualties by 1/3rd in Edinburgh and significant speed drops in Scottish Borders.
• Micro-mobility with e-scooters, e-bikes, e-cargo bikes etc is changing the needs of our road network.
• Automated pod vehicles will work best in a low-speed environment

This presentation will make the case for the UK Government accepting that the current approach of a 30mph national speed limit with traffic authorities able to alter it where it is inappropriate, is fundamentally flawed. Treating 20mph as some isolated exception only needed in a few places and requiring expensive repeater signs and administration is critically illogical when it is fast becoming the norm. It would make far more sense for a national 20mph limit to be set for restricted roads and for traffic authorities to set a higher limit where it is deemed safe and appropriate. This aligns with the global best practice in the Stockholm Declaration as accepted by the UN General Assembly as the basis for the 2nd Decade of Action on Road Safety.

With flat-lining casualty stats in the UK and all the pressures on modal shift and transport carbon reduction, now is the time for England and Northern Ireland to follow Wales and Scotland and make the 20mph the national limit across the UK.

Rod King MBE, Founder and Campaign Director, 20’s Plenty for Us

Rod King started to campaign for lower speed limits in Warrington, UK in 2004. He went on to set up 20’s Plenty for Us in 2007 in order to assist others in communities which wanted lower speeds and speed limits. With a focus on the single issue of campaigning for 20mph limits for most roads across a complete local authority, 20’s Plenty for Us now has 500 local campaigns in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and Australia.

In countries that use km it uses the “Love 30”name. It works by empowering local campaigns and acting as a catalyst for communities to change their speed limits. It has been influential in government and transport thinking and guidance on the use and benefits of 20mph/30kmh limits.

20’s Plenty for Us is a not-for-profit organisation with a small core team, but thousands of volunteers campaigning for a default 20mph/30kmh urban/village limit in order to make their places better places to be.

Rod has also engaged with many of the places implementing wide-area 20mph limits which now include the majority of the UK’s largest 40 urban authorities, all inner London boroughs - and now the Welsh Government in setting a national urban default limit of 20mph. The Scottish Government has recently announced its intention to set 20mph as a norm.

At global level, 30km/h is recognised as the best-practice speed limit for urban and village streets shared between motors and vulnerable road users. It is a key element of speed management in both the 2020 Stockholm Declaration and its subsequent adoption by the UN General Assembly.

In June 2013 Rod was awarded an MBE for Services to Road Safety in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Rod has an honours degree in Automobile Engineering and provides his time on a pro bono basis. He has spoken at transport, active travel, road safety and public health conferences around the world.