Being active is the ‘wonder drug’ that more Britons should be taking regularly. The greatest gains in health are from regular activities like walking or cycling locally. 20mph speed limits are a crucial platform for people to choose active travel. All local transport methods and journeys become safer and more pleasant. 20mph helps keep people safe and gets their legs moving more often!
Recommended adult exercise levels are 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week and an hour daily for children. In England, 34% of men and 44% of women say they aren’t moving enough. The trend is worsening. Inactivity costs £10.7+ bn per year and there is a ticking ‘inactivity time bomb’ of future costs. Humans are ‘designed to move’ as this reduces cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, mental illness and diabetes.
Public health interventions often target children (e.g. Walk to School), the inactive and women (e.g. This Girl Can) for the massive health gains from getting the less active to move even a bit more. Smart active travel initiatives are designed to help people progress from short leisure strolls, on to walking to local destinations or using public transport more which involves walking. Increasing activity and motivation can then lead on to jogging, cycling or scooting for longer trip distances and/or sustained aerobic effort and exercising with kids.
20mph limits are increasingly seen as the single most crucial foundation in a cost effective activity, outdoor play or obesity strategy. Public Health Directors funded 20mph in Manchester, Lancashire, Calderdale, Bristol and Birmingham as a community-wide environmental intervention for health improvement. Signed Total 20 improves our streets in built up areas, 24/7, long term for a once off £3 p. head (and even less if the Government changes repeater signs rules) without the need for other traffic calming such as humps. 20mph helps everyone, especially carers and the vulnerable, to choose to use their legs more. It is safer (20% fewer casualties), quieter (half the noise of 30mph) and less polluting as less fuel is burnt. Walking and cycling increases. 20mph helps slower walkers (the less fit, young and old) to cross roads. 20mph is popular, fair, family and dementia friendly - helping to fulfil child protection and public sector equality duties.
Manchester’s 20mph public health aims were to reduce traffic casualties and encourage active travel. A shift away from car use is a bonus, not a main health outcome. All active travel modes are helped by 20mph and drivers and passengers face less risk. Parental permission for children to play out doubles. Everyone wins!