The Welsh Government says the findings of a public consultation into making 20mph the nation’s default speed limit – which shows more than half of respondents oppose the move – do not reflect the Welsh public’s views.
More than 5,600 responses to the consultation were analysed, among which 53% said they were against 20mph (47% ‘strongly against’ and 6% ‘slightly against’).
Conversely, 47% were in favour (41% ‘strongly in favour’ and 6% ‘slightly in favour’).
Responding to the consultation, the Welsh Government says the survey was not a representative sample of the population and as a result the findings cannot be taken as indicative of the Welsh public’s views generally.
It notes that feedback from public consultations ‘is prone to bias because those who choose to take part to volunteer their opinion often hold strong views about the subject’.
The Welsh Government points to the marked difference in levels of support for 20mph between the public opinion survey (an independent research survey of a representative sample of the Welsh population) and the public consultation (where the sample was self-selecting).
In the public opinion survey, 81% of survey respondents were in favour of a reduction in the speed limit to 20mph and 17% against.
Reasons for supporting or opposing 20mph speed limits
Supporters of 20mph in the consultation noted a variety of reasons to be positive about the change.
The most emphatic endorsement was around pedestrian and cyclist safety, reducing fatal/serious collisions and improving quality of life.
Meanwhile, those against it pointed to factors including an increase in journey times, more congestion and the annoyance of drivers.
The consultation also included focus groups with people currently living in areas where a default 20mph limit is being piloted.
Focus group respondents highlighted some of the positives they had noticed since the speed limit had been reduced in their communities.
The advantages mentioned were slower traffic, better pedestrian safety, environmental benefits, improved wellbeing, a reduction in traffic noise and, in one community, a potential economic benefit for local businesses.
Reservations were also voiced by some focus group participants. These were primarily concerns about lack of enforcement and some drivers not adhering to the new speed limit.
Some felt the new 20mph limit was being ignored and was therefore not working.
The Welsh Government plans to introduce legislation in 2023 which will reduce the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on restricted roads across Wales.