Funding 20mph Limits

20 mph limits are fantastic value for money with huge first year rates of return.  Spending on all roads benefits every resident. Many different funds can pay for 20mph - which costs about £2.50-£3 per head. A national default 20mph limit would be cheaper due to fewer repeater signs, traffic orders and marketing. Cardiff propose using motoring fines. 

It is best practice to implement wide 20mph limits. 12-56% fewer casualty evidence in 20mph signed areas is at Cost effectiveness analysis should include fewer injuries plus gains from physical activity, prevention of, and long term social care savings for, coronary heart disease, dementia, obesity, diabetes, noise and air quality improvements plus fuel savings and less congestion.  

Implementing 20 mph limits requires public engagement, signs, some posts or road markings, traffic regulation orders plus officer time and ‘light touch’ enforcement.  Portsmouth’s 20mph was £573k for 1200 roads (94% of roads), £478 p. road or £2.75 p. head.  £500k is equivalent to two signal controlled junctions.  Oxford spent £300k (£2 p. head).  Warrington found the “value” of fewer casualties from an area-wide 20mph limit gave First Year Returns of 800+%[3].  Costs are 80-90% capital.  Public sector capital funds cannot go on revenue. Capital can be borrowed. Options to pay:

1)      Central Government funds for Local Highways- eg Local Transport Plan (LTP) or capital works. LTP was used in Portsmouth, Oxford, Islington, Bristol, York and more.

2)      Public Health – slower speeds helps everyone to become healthier. Public health professionals know that small improvements to lots of people add up eg Lancashire £1m, Calderdale £500k, Liverpool £400k, Manchester £350k.

3)      Transport for London & Greater Manchester Transport Authority.  TfL funds are paying for Tower Hamlet’s 20mph implementation (£450k) from Local Implementation Plans (LIP) funds and for Croydon’s (£1.5m).

4)      Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) /Combined Authorities– The bulk of transport funds are moving to LEPs and being pooled to support economic growth in Local Growth Funds.  Bids must have an economic justification.

5)      DfT Cycle City Ambition Grants e.g. Norwich, Cambridge. Cycle Revolution Grants eg Birmingham

6)      Developer money/Section 106/New Homes Bonus/Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Eg Chichester.

7)      Asset sales - when a council asset is sold, receipts are for capital projects like 20mph limits, not revenue.

8)      Prudential Borrowing at 8% interest can raise capital. There is a revenue impact.

9)      Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding as with (8) has revenue consequences.

10)   Councillor vote in amendments to budgets. E.g. a York Green Party budget amendment 2009- £30,000.

11)   Parish or local funds. In Otley, Leeds and Tregony in Cornwall councillors spent local budgets on 20mph. Unfortunately, local ward funding can mean patchy coverage, not a community wide limit.

12)   Charities or private individuals. Sustrans is contributing to Edinburgh’s 20mph costs.

13)   Parking revenue or bridge tolls are often ring fenced for transport improvements.

14)   Cardiff propose funding 20mph limits by motoring infringement fines. This is a new source of funding.


One-off wide implementations are better value than phased.  It is more cost effective per mph to lower limits across a community as driver compliance improves.  Including arterials is cheaper due to fewer entry signs. 

20’s Plenty asks the Government to transition to a 20mph National Speed limit by 2020[1]. Savings from signing 5% of roads at 30mph (rather than 95% at 20mph) are huge – at least a third, by avoiding installing repeater signs every 100m.

Where there is political will local Councillors have found funding for a wide 20mph limits.  With a  can do attitude wide 20mph limits offer superb returns on public investment and pay back within a year.



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