London is lagging behind Paris and other capitals on road speed policy. To stay competitive for tourists and to increase quality of life for residents and workers, it’s time for a 20mph speed limit across Central London
Paris has announced that the vast majority of its roads will soon be limited to 30kph (18.6mph). Almost all of Edinburgh is going 20mph too. London is falling behind international league tables at civilising streets and balancing the needs of motor traffic with those who walk and cycle or take public transport. London recently fell out of the index of the top 20 bicycle friendly cities in the world. Policymakers are fearful about London’s ability to continue to attract and keep young talent without pro-active travel policies.
The new Mayor of Paris Mme Anne Hildago, elected in March 2014, recently unveiled plans for virtually all urban streets to be limited to 30kph. Exceptions are just a few arterial routes, roads along the banks of the Seine (50kph (30mph)) and the Peripherique (down from 80kph to 70kph (45mph)). Paris’s lower speed limit will cover 105 km2 and 2.25 million people. Fewer road casualties, lower air pollution and noise and a better quality of life are the goals.
The good news is that many inner London Boroughs are already 20mph places or plan to go ‘Total 20’. All borough managed roads in Camden, Islington and the City of London are 20mph. Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham have pledged to go 20 too. Tower Hamlets is considering 20mph’s benefits, as are Croydon and Hammersmith & Fulham.
Yet two central London boroughs, the City of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, remain dead set against 20mph, despite overwhelming evidence of its benefits and a dramatic shift in policy by Transport for London (TfL) in favour of 20mph over the last 2 years. TfL is now trialling 20mph in Central London on a number of its Red Route roads including Blackfriars and London Bridges.
The blue line on the London map below encircles the equivalent size of the 30km/hr area for Paris. It is more than four times bigger than London’s Congestion Charging Zone (red line). An equivalent area for London would include the West End, the City and large parts of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Islington and Camden.