A leading social geographer has suggested that introducing 20mph limits “where 30mph limits have usually been in place” is the most effective thing a local authority can do to reduce health inequalities.
Professor Danny Dorling’s paper on 20mph limits is one of nine suggested policies for local authorities published by The British Academy.
The British Academy is an independent national academy of Fellows elected for their eminence in research and publication, and the UK’s expert body that supports and speaks for the humanities and social sciences.
Its report, “If you could do one thing…" Nine local actions to reduce health inequalities”, was published on 16 January.
Each of the nine authors draws on the evidence base for their particular area of expertise to identify one policy intervention that they think local authorities could introduce to improve the health of the local population and reduce health inequalities.
The British Academy says: “With the current structural changes to public health in England, we hope that this report will be a useful source of information on the evidence base for local policymakers and directors of public health.”
Professor Danny Dorling is Halford Mackinder Professor of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. He is a widely published and highly respected expert with a special interest in differential life expectancy between socio-economic groups.
In his report Professor Dorling suggests that “introducing 20mph zones would save lives, prevent injuries and reduce health inequalities in the process". He describes it as “a low cost measure and a devolved power that can only easily be enacted at the local level”.
Professor Dorling goes on to suggest that “death is much less likely if a pedestrian is hit by a car travelling at 20mph, than at 30mph or more, and cyclists are far safer if travelling with traffic that does not exceed 20mph”.
He also says that “lower traffic speeds bring many other benefits: less congestion; less air pollution and CO2 emissions; stronger communities; more walking and cycling; and reduced obesity”.
Click here to download Professor Dorling’s paper.