Attracting visitors, ideally arriving by public transport, brings prosperity. Tourists often sightsee by walking around. Visitor numbers rise when the public realm is improved by safer, nicer streets. As with pedestrianisation, 20mph limits attract walkers. With less danger, footfall rises as do profits. Cyclist numbers increase too.
Jobs and wealth are top issues for a location’s success and its politicians. The prosperity of some places is highly dependent on visitors. Where tourists matter, places are increasingly choosing area-wide 20mph limits- e.g. York, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Chichester and Bath. Winchester’s Built Environment member, Cllr Victoria Weston said “20mph speed limits are becoming regular and popular features in city centres, especially those with an historic environment and strong tourist economy. Limits improve quality of life for local residents, shoppers and visitors and improve traffic-flow and safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians”, 20mph limits are safer as stopping distances are halved compared to 30mph. Also quieter – there is a 3-4 decibel reduction, perceived as 50% less noise.
Cambridge Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright supports 20mph limits since many tourists “don’t look the right way up the road because they are used to coming from the continent”. Foreigners are vulnerable due to unfamiliarity with British road rules. Strangers can be disorientated or lost as they explore a new place.
Streets form the majority of the urban public realm. Living Streets cite economic benefits in making public spaces areas where people want to spend time, not just pass through. Well planned public space upgrades can raise footfall and trading by up to 40% and retail rents by up to 20% which calls for 20mph limits. York Visitor Survey ‘11–12 found the top activity of the 7m yearly visitors is to “stroll around and enjoy the ambience of York”. Less than 2m went into major attractions. Reinvigorate York is a £3.3m programme refreshing the city by upgrading main square pavings, benches and more. There is a 10mph central limit outside foot street (10.30am – 5pm) hours and default residential Total 20mph is being installed. Edinburgh have agreed 20mph limits for residential, main shopping, city centre and streets with high pedestrian and/or cyclist activity levels.
The London Mayor’s Roads Task Force (RTF) has recommended area-wide 20mph limits for the Central Activities Zone (West End, The City and Southbank). The IMAX roundabout near Waterloo Bridge is already 20mph and helps tourists get to and from the Southbank. For inner London Boroughs, the RTF advises the creation of 20mph zones especially in residential areas and town centres. 20mph improves safety, attractiveness and ambience.
Leisure destinations like Richmond and Olympic Parks are 20mph for a better visitor experience. The Royal Parks are considering 20mph throughout in their development plan. Centre Parks have safety at the core of their family friendly concept. Car movements are restricted and speeds limited to 10mph to enable visitors to walk and cycle as they explore plus reduce noise and air pollution. Cycle use and hire rates rise as traffic speeds fall. Bristol found levels of walking and cycling increased by over 20% in 20mph limits pilots. Tourism benefits from slower speeds.