Conference reiterates calls for 20mph limit in Wales

12.39 | 3 October 2018 | | 12 comments

The ninth annual 20’s Plenty for Us conference saw delegates discuss the potential to make streets in Wales healthier by introducing a default 20mph speed limit in urban areas.

Around 100 delegates attended the conference on 2 October, which was themed ‘20’s Plenty for Wales’. The event was supported by Cardiff City Council and held at Glamorgan County Cricket Ground.

John Griffiths AM, National Assembly for Wales, shared his support for a 20mph national speed limit and also revealed that he has organised a 20mph round table event at the Assembly.

Rod King MBE, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, set the international context for 20mph as the ‘developing norm’ for road safety, population and environmental health, active travel, mental health, business and tourism.

Mark Ruskell MSP, the Scottish Green party spokesman on environment, talked to delegates about the Safer Streets Member’s Bill – which proposes to lower the default speed limit in urban areas across Scotland from 30mph to 20mph.

The Bill, which has cross-party support, was introduced to Scottish Parliament by Mr Ruskell on 21 September and, if passed, could become law ‘by the end of next year’.

Also on the agenda was professor Adrian Davis (recently appointed professor of transport and health at Edinburgh Napier University) and professor Alan Tapp from the University of West of England – who explained how social marketing and engagement plays a large part in maximizing speed limit compliance.

The event also saw the Welsh 20mph Campaigner of the Year award presented to Brendan Sadka of the 20’s Plenty for Sully Campaign, and a further campaigner award made to Adrian Berendt for his work in the 20’s Plenty for Kent campaign.

Brendan Sadka said: “The case for a replacing the 30mph default speed limit on restricted roads in Wales with a 20mph limit has a powerful evidential base, clear public support and plenty of precedents in the UK and internationally.”

As is the case across the UK, the introduction of a default 20mph limit in urban areas is a hot topic in Wales.

Last month, a report by the Institute of Welsh Affairs called on the Welsh Government to impose such a limit, with local authorities given discretion to exempt routes where justified.

The report states: “Speed limits of 20mph have been shown to have a significant impact on the extent of injuries arising from collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists.”

A default 20mph limit has also been recommended by Public Health Wales which projects annual savings of up to £94m in terms of injuries, and £61m in air pollution related ill health.

Devolution means that, since April 2018, the Welsh Assembly has been able to set national speed limits separately from Westminster.

Rod King MBE, founder and director of 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “With respected Welsh organisations backing 20mph there is a real sense of top down validation.

“We know how 20mph as the normal road speed for built up areas is an enormous public health, economic and environmental win-win.

“Wales can decide to push ahead and go 20mph without the costly and time-consuming disadvantages of doing it authority by authority. It can combine national cost-effectiveness and consistency with local flexibility to deliver a real benefit to all communities.

“I was delighted with the response to the conference and look forward to engaging more with cross-party politicians on the next stage towards a change in Welsh speed limit law.”



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    May 2019 Update

    Welsh First Minister announces in the Senedd :-

    “The Welsh government believes that 20mph zones should be the default speed limit for residential areas. The Deputy Transport Minister, together with the Welsh Local Government Association, is taking forward work to identify the practical actions needed to implement 20mph speed limits in residential areas across Wales”

    See video clip at

    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    December 2018 update:
    Well, the DfT Atkins report didn’t do the 20s plenty campaign any favours did it?

    I hear of several Local Authorities in Wales who have “kept their powder dry” during 2018 now willing to speak up FOR the current policy and AGAINST default 20s.

    I suspect the chances of country wide default 20s in Wales in 2019 (and probably the whole of the next generation) to be roughly zero.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It’s okay Rod, I’ve long been an advocate of 20 limits in urban areas – in principle anyway.. it’s the competency of some Councils when it comes to exemptions that I have reservations about plus..compliance.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (2)


    In successive British Social Attitude Surveys 67% of those asked agreed that 20mph should be the speed limit on residential roads. That is just about double the 37% of those asked who wanted to leave the EU in June 2016.

    Given the loss of support for the latter action maybe we have to accept that whilst Brexit may have been the “whim of the people”, 20’s Plenty is the actual “Will of the people”.

    You can hear Professor Alan Tapp who has conducted multiple surveys with YouGov, analysed the results and who spoke at the conference.


    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (3) | Disagree (6)

    Okay Rod, but it’s a pity that a principle that, to me and many others is a no-brainer, should require so much deliberation. Even Brexit only took referendum…now there’s a thought, maybe 20 as the default urban limit should be put to the public vote!

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (4)


    “What were the outcomes of the previous eight?”

    The conferences have played a part in the adoption and roll out of wide-area 20mph limits.Including:-

    16m people now living in authorities with a policy of 20mph limits implemented for most residential roads. Including 80% of inner London boroughs, majority of 40 largest urban authorities, many TFL roads. Not forgetting Cheshire West and Chester.

    Many other authorities seriously considering wide-area 20mph limits.

    30km/h limits across the city of Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland.

    A default 20mph limit being considered by the Scottish Parliament.

    Development of the whole 20’s Plenty movement for slower speeds where people live, work, play, shop and learn.

    Influencers, those responsible for road danger reduction and public health, as well as members of the public from all of these places have attended the conferences.

    So, overall, I think we have achieved quite a good outcome!

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (4) | Disagree (7)

    I note this is the ninth annual conference on this subject – does anyone else think that’s quite a lot to discuss a speed limit? What were the outcomes of the previous eight?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

    Pat and Guzzi are correct. I am always encouraged when government departments and their heads start off their position statements with the phrase “There are currently no plans….”

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

    Pat and all,
    Welsh Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates also said publicly what you quoted, in the Assembly in reply to John Griffiths AM speech about default 20s in Wales. And Welsh Government spokespeople have said the same thing earlier this year to BBC News when they asked Welsh Gov for a comment.

    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

    Just to be clear, I been informed directly by Welsh Government that the current Welsh Government policy is:-
    “There are currently no plans to introduce default 20mph speed limits in urban areas.
    Any decision to bring forward proposals to vary existing speed limits would be preceded by a full assessment of available evidence and informed by comprehensive engagement with relevant stakeholders, including road safety practitioners”

    To the best of my knowledge, the Welsh Government position has not changed on this matter throughout 2018 to date. Anything else is conjecture.

    We all await the DfT Atkins report, although I suspect it will not provide a clear cut statement for or against default 20s.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (12) | Disagree (1)

    This all honestly sounds like another take on the “The Emperor’s New Clothes” fairy tale. No-one seems to be challenging the idea because they think everyone else thinks it’s a good idea, despite not being able to see any concrete and attributable improvements from it. Councils will be asked to pay a lot of money for some new magic-property speed limits, the benefits of which will only be seen by wise people. The magic-properties, of course, do not really exist, but the councils cannot admit that because they do not want to seem stupid.

    Charles, England
    Agree (14) | Disagree (5)

    We will wait and see if this is a debacle, or if it’s the best thing since sliced bread. As yet, with well over 1,000 or more areas involved over the last 10 years there has not been any absolute incontrovertible evidence of it working – of actually reducing the local speed that drivers drive at from 30mph to 20mph.

    Further, have we any scientific evidence that specifically states categorically that areas deemed now to be 20mph have any fresher air now than what they had before its implementation. Again over the last 10 years or so. I have not as yet seen one significant report substantiating this claim.

    I would love to be a taxi or delivery driver in these towns when there is to be a blanket limit of 20mph. Where commercial delivery vehicles will have less time to deliver to the same number of retail outlets and deliveries will be subject to daily and weekly delays.

    Agree (15) | Disagree (8)

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