Are 20mph repeaters a relic of the 1990’s?

With the majority of largest 40 urban authorities adopting 20mph as the limit for most roads, isn’t it time we just put limit repeater reminders on the 30mph roads? This would hugely reduce costs and enable wider implementation in line with community and government objectives.

The first 20mph limits were implemented in the 1990s and usually had physical calming that reduced comfort levels to remind people that they should drive at an appropriate speed. More recently, authorities were able to instead complement the large 600mm entry 20mph limit signs with smaller 300mm repeater signs at approximately 100m intervals to remind drivers of the non-standard limit.

Today many of our largest cities, conurbations and even complete counties[1] have adopted a default 20mph limit for all their restricted roads[2]. In some cases as much as 90% of roads have been set at 20mph with the rest remaining at 30mph, 40mph or 50mph. Over 14m people now live in such places. For these places 20mph is no longer the exception that requires special signage but simply the norm as to what is expected in an urban or village environment unless a consideration has been made to set it higher.

In most European countries 30km/h (18.5mph) limits are used without any need for repeater signs. In Northern Ireland they are considering a bill to set all restricted roads that are not A or B roads at 20mph without repeater signs. In Scotland a change to the speed signage guidance is being considered to take away the need for repeater signs. Throughout the country we are told that authorities are waiting for signage regulation changes so that they only have to put them on the exceptions above 20mph.

Rod King, Founder and Campaign Director for 20’s Plenty for Us commented :-

“The 20mph repeater sign is a relic from an earlier age when 30mph was endorsed as a blanket speed limit and there were a few places where it was deemed inappropriate to drive above 20mph. 72% of people are saying 20mph is the right limit for residential streets[3].

So many authorities, NGOs and government departments agree that a lower 20mph limit is right for reducing road danger, encouraging active travel, reducing emissions and noise, as well as making our places simply better places to be. Now it’s time that governments ended this outdated requirement for 20mph repeaters so that local authorities can more economically implement the appropriate limits that their communities demand.”

[1] Over half of the 40 largest urban authorities in the UK have already adopted 20mph as their default limit for streets. These include such iconic cities as Manchester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and 75% of Inner London..

[2] A “restricted” road is one with lighting at less than 185m intervals and is automatically limited to a 30mph limit unless the Traffic Authority concerned either directs that it is “not restricted” or carries a different speed limit by means of a Traffic Regulation Order.

[3] British Social Attitudes Survey

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