New call for 20mph limits to improve cyclists’ safety

12.00 | 28 March 2013 | | 10 comments

Brake and British Cycling have issued a joint plea for action from national and local Government to improve cyclists’ safety by introducing widespread 20mph limits in towns and cities.

The two organisations have today (28 March) published a survey of 1,000 cyclists in which 88% of respondents think traffic is too fast on roads in their area, and 98% said more should be done to make local streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. 68% of respondents said that widespread 20mph limits are needed in their area to make cycling and walking safer.

The survey also suggests that if roads were safer: 46% of respondents would use a bike more frequently for local journeys; 44% would cycle more for leisure or exercise; and 40% would cycle more often to work.

In an earlier survey, 65% of British Cycling members said reducing residential speed limits to 20mph would reduce injuries to cyclists.

Brake and British Cycling are part of GO 20, a coalition of 11 charities and organisations calling for: more local authorities to implement 20mph limits across towns, cities and villages; the Government to work towards 20mph being the norm in all communities; and drivers to pledge to GO 20 around homes, schools and shops.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, says: “As we move into British summertime, more people will be taking to their bikes to commute, exercise, or enjoy the longer days. But this survey shows what a long way we have to go before the UK’s streets are truly cyclist-friendly. It remains that fast traffic and inadequate safe routes have a major impact on people’s ability to choose and enjoy cycling.

“We believe everyone should be able to cycle or walk in their community or to get to work or school without fear or threat. Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to GO 20 around homes, schools and shops, and take great care to look out for cyclists and pedestrians this summer and year-round.

“We’re also appealing to more authorities to recognise the huge demand for safe walking and cycling, and enormous benefits of widespread 20mph limits and safe routes, and GO 20.”

Martin Gibbs, British Cycling’s policy and legal affairs director, said: “We know from listening to our members and from the results of this survey that reducing speed limits where people live is an important part of encouraging more people to cycle more often.

“We need the DfT to take the findings of this survey seriously and to really make a commitment to putting cycling at the heart of transport policy so that through measures like lower speed limits and well designed roads, junctions and cycle lanes cycling becomes the norm our towns and cities.”

Contact Brake on 01484 559909 for more information.


Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated


    Many of the people responding are actually getting the point and delivering their well-worn reactions to any attempt to create a better environment by placing some quite small restrictions on what people in motor vehicles can do.

    The world is changing, the vast majority of people are recognising that universal ownership and usage of motor vehicles will not produce the utopian transport environment that was predicted. Indeed the practicality of motoring is very dependent upon large sections of the public choosing to walk, cycle and use public transport instead of driving.

    As motorists we all owe it to those current and potential cyclists and pedestrians to modify our behaviour and create less pace on our streets. And 20mph speed limits and their growing adoption at local authority and government level are an indication of a change in culture which still a small minority refuse to accept.

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

    I think a few people here are completely missing the point.

    A motor vehicle is 1 tonne plus of moving danger. Increase the speed, you decrease the awareness, the reaction times and increase the inertia.

    A bicycle, unless ridden by the uber fit ‘Dave of Slough’, seldom travels in excess of 15 mph. Could somebody tell me the KSIs of those involved in cycle vs ped last year? And those of car (just one type of motorvehicle) vs ped?

    30 KMH zones have been a staple of many civilised countries approaches to road safety, along with better road design (putting people, not traffic flow first) and they work.

    Steve, Merseyside
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The wording of S35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1948 (c. 58), s. 1(2)) is as follows: “35. Drivers of carriages injuring persons by furious driving Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.”

    Cycling furiously can be used in relation to speeding as well as injuries!

    Peter London
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    20MPH in certain areas would help prevent accidents, as long as there is objective assessment and not subjective to locations and distances, plus, and this is a big one, who is going to ensure these speed limits are upheld?

    Wherever I have driven in 20MPH areas, I am usually the slowest vehicle, the following vehicles often erratically overtaking me in their annoyance. I am the one that feels at risk. Who is going to uphold and monitor these limits, enforcement does not exist in the places I have travelled?

    David Matthews, Desborough Northamptonshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The evidence that 20mph areas lead to improved safety is certainly not compelling, rather the reverse.

    Recently an analysis of Boris’ new scheme for cycle tracks across London will lead to speed reductions for most other traffic. Of course it will – how could not not?

    Should I invest in a company producing red flags to be carried on foot in front of every moving vehicle? That seems to be the way we are heading.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I think the 20 mph speed limit within towns and cities is pointless. What cyclists need is education about the following:-

    – The highway code (eg. stopping at red traffic lights, cycling the correct direction on one way streets, speed limits, etc.).

    – Personal protection equipment such as cycle helmets, reflective clothing and cycle lights.

    – Road manners (eg. no reckless/dangerous cycling, no cycling side by side on narrow roads, etc.).

    – Be aware of their surroundings. All vehicles need space regardless of type.

    As a motorist, cyclist and occasional horse rider, I know and respect the needs for other road users.

    Phil, Kent
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There are a lot of people here who don’t seem to realise that over the past few decades, in Scotland anyway but applicable to the UK, walking and cycling rates have remained stable or have dropped while car use has increased rather dramatically ( + tables 11.20 & 11:22). This is is predicted to increase by 40% on our local roads in Glasgow over the next decade (

    I am a motorist, however I realise we have to curb our excesses. The current conditions are frankly unsustainable. The truth is 70% of people want the speed limit to be dropped to 20mph, the evidence of safer streets, smoother traffic flow, less congestion is compelling and the socio-economic benefits associated with more attractive places to walk/cycle essential if we want to civilise our streets.

    Cars are so ubiquitous we accept that they (or rather the drivers, i.e. everyone) are a cause of a significant number of serious unintentional injuries and deaths. Not surprising for cars travelling @ 30 mph (hint – it’s to do with mass + speed). The danger posed by bikes (or for that matter cars driving slowly) is incomparably insignificant in comparison .

    20 mph should just be the start!

    John Shelton – Glasgow
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    When I am cycling, and cars dawdle at 20mph, it is not safe to cycle constantly close to the drivers who, due to such a slow speed, may often not be paying attention. I am therefore inclined to overtake them. Drivers can either “do 20mph” or can “select a safe speed” but few, if any, can do both all of the time.

    This may be one of the reasons why serious injury rates have increased where 20mph has been tried.

    Are the charities aware that, in RTCs in London, almost as many cyclists (24) were “exceeding the speed limit” as motorists (30)? Although it is not illegal for cyclists to exceed speed limits, how fast can they go? Were many of these collisions in 20mph zones?

    See 1.7, cyclists:

    Dave, Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I presume the cyclists themselves will observe these lower speed limits? Oh, and while we’re at it, how about observing some other fundamental rules of the road, like sticking to the c/way and not alternating willy-nilly between f/way and c/way …and how about not going through traffic lights on red? I know not all cyclists are reckless and careless, but neither are all motorised road users, but the article makes out that the motorised road uses are always the villains of the piece. Yes they are sometimes, but all road users have to assume some responsibility for their actions.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    What about a nice low speed limit for push-bikes while they’re at it. The people at Brake tell us that lower speeds are safer speeds, so why are push-bikes exempt from complying with a speed limit?

    Many push-bikes are sold on their performance capabilities, just like cars and motorbikes, yet you don’t hear anybody complaining about how that would encourage reckless riding.

    How about a campaign entitled “Eight is Great” to encourage cyclists to slow down in built-up areas and around schools? I’m sure it would be very popular.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.