Public attitudes towards 20mph limits ‘positive or neutral’

11.38 | 11 November 2021 | | 2 comments

“Policymakers should be less anxious about potential public backlash when considering the scale-up of 20mph speed restrictions.”

That’s the headline finding from a study by researchers from the University of East Anglia titled, “Tweeting about twenty: an analysis of interest, public sentiments and opinion about 20mph speed restrictions in two UK cities”.

In the study, published on an open access basis in BMC Public Health, researchers extracted public opinion and sentiments expressed about the new 20mph speed limits in Edinburgh and Belfast, which were implemented between 2016 and 2018, using publicly available Twitter data.

The project team analysed public sentiments from Twitter data and classified the comments in plain English into the categories ‘positive’, ‘neutral’, and ‘negative’. They also explored the frequency and sources of the tweets.

They found the total volume of tweets was higher for Edinburgh than for Belfast, but the volume of tweets for both cities followed a similar pattern, peaking around 2016, when the schemes were implemented.

Overall, the study says the tone of the tweets was ‘positive or neutral towards the implementation of the (20mph) speed limit policies’.

This finding is described as ‘surprising’, given there is ‘a perception among policymakers that there would have been public backlash against these sorts of policy changes’.

The most commonly used hashtags focused largely on road safety and other potential benefits, for example air pollution.

In its conclusion, the study says: “Overall, public attitudes towards the policies were positive, thus policymakers should be less anxious about potential public backlash when considering the scale-up of 20mph speed restrictions.”


 

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    Away from their vehicles, when asked, people probably would be in favour of 20 mph limits in residential areas – until that is they themselves are behind the wheel!

    In reality, too many motorists do not know that they are in a 20 zone and if they did, are ignoring it anyway, such is the perverse nature of people..combine that with drivers’ general woeful lack of understanding of vehicle speed and hazard avoidance – by which I mean gently slowing, instead of panic braking at the last second.


    Hugh Jones, cheshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
    +4

    > This finding is described as ‘surprising’, given there is ‘a perception among policymakers that there would have been public backlash against these sorts of policy changes’.

    What are people to do, complain on Twitter about some bureaucratic thing that happened a while ago that they disagree with, every 5 minutes?

    Or are they just going to continue driving safely at about 30 mph, which is what was the status quo before?

    * based on my experiences of driving in my localities, which are not Belfast nor Edinburgh


    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
    +4

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