30mph is Unjust and Unjustified: Choose 20mph

There is no justification for 30mph as the national speed limit. 20’s Plenty for Us say far too many people are hurt on 30mph roads. 30mph is unjust and unjustified. 20mph is safer and best practice. It results in 20% fewer casualties – about 21,000 p/a.

The 30mph limit for built up areas was decided over 80 years ago in 1934.  30mph was chosen in an arbitrary way without evidence or research on survivability.

Of the 129,837 reported casualties on built up roads in 2016, 105,981 were on 30mph roads. 588 (11 a week) were killed and a further 12,849 (246 a week) were seriously injured on 30mph roads[1]. This is unacceptable.

Some say that “it’s 30 for a reason”, but with so many casualties this is not a safe speed for our modern, congested urban roads where motor vehicles and vulnerable road users mix. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says A safe speed on roads with possible conflicts between cars and pedestrians, cyclists or other vulnerable road users is 30 km/h (20mph)[2]

Neither does a 30mph limit satisfy the “sustainable system” approach that looks for a road environment where mistakes do not end in death for either those making them or their innocent victims.

When serious injuries happen at work, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigates how many were predictable and preventable.  A change to well enforced 20mph limits could prevent 20% of casualties[3] - about 21,000 casualties p.a. fewer. The policy costs about £2 p/head for individual local authorities to implement and £1 p/head if implemented nationally by central government[4].

Depending on age, survivability at 20mph vs 30mph is about 7-10 times higher and stopping distances are halved (12m vs 23m or 3 vs 6 car lengths). We all, as drivers or pedestrians, favour near misses to being hit. 

Urban speeds above 20mph are also unjust because excessive speed is the main reason that many people fear using roads to walk or cycle. Our young, elderly and many others are losing their active mobility because 30mph vehicle speeds are currently endorsed where people live, work, shop and learn. This has huge implications for our nation’s health and the cost of obesity and cardio-vascular treatments. 

Rod King MBE, Founder of 20’s Plenty for Us commented:

“Across the world 30mph (50kmh) limits are being replaced by 20mph (30kmh) as the right standard where motor vehicles mix with pedestrians and cyclists. The 30mph limit that was plucked out of the air in 1934 as being better than no limit is no longer fit for purpose. It is unjust, unjustifiable and needs to be consigned to history. A routinely enforced 20mph limit should be the new urban norm with higher speeds only allowed on those roads that protect pedestrians and cyclists with appropriate crossing and segregated facilities. It would transform our urban/village environment and be the foundation for a healthier and more productive nation.”

Showing 6 reactions

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  • Rod King
    commented 2019-01-13 18:48:46 +0000
    Dear Mr Taylor

    Thank you for your comments and interest in 20mph limits. For the record, I was not referencing any social media, simply the results of a Google search.

    I see plenty of faces that are quite pleased with bus lanes. They are the people in buses, the people cycling in them and also the many drivers who recognise that a bus full of people is actually a bus full of people that are not driving on the roads and causing congestion.

    I have been driving for over 50 years much of it self employed or running a business. I have never felt that the road network posed any sort of problem. Of course there is some congestion caused by over-use and over-reliance on motorised transport.

    It is interesting that you think 20mph is useful outside schools. I wonder how you expect children to reach “outside schools”? Do they not have to walk from their house to the school? Or would you prefer them to be driven and so add to the traffic that seems to be everyone else but yourself.

    There is no evidence that “95% of drivers ignore them”. If you have a source for your claim please provide it. And also for the statement that “police cannot enforce them”. They do elsewhere. Try https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/15/20mph-headline-decided/
  • Roger Taylor
    commented 2019-01-12 17:28:18 +0000
    Dear Mr King,

    If you take the trolls opinions on social media of me then I care not a jot. If you want to make it personal I might say one needs to take on a PC campaign to get an MBE!

    What I care about is that facts, rather than emotions, are actually debated.

    I take my experience of many years of seeing emotion give us bus lanes (John Prescott’s baby to reduce car travel which failed) restricted lanes, reduction in number of lanes, mass pedestrianisation and more which has led to congestion and frustration. What might be your experience on the roads? Have you ever done multi-drop? Have you ever been self-employed and had to rely on a totally inadequate road network costing your business?

    Which are, by a massive way, our safest roads? When I drive through the more “hippy” areas of Calderdale I see support for 20 is plenty but whenever I talk to people in general they think it’s a lot of fuss about nothing. It has cost Calderdale £821K to implement and has saved absolutely nothing. I supported 20 mph say outside schools (in fact those flashing warning lights asking 20 mph during schools in/out are effective in my opinion) and maybe other sensitive places but what we have is absurd. 95% of drivers ignore them, because they do as they were taught and drive to the conditions, and the police have admitted they cannot enforce them.

    I am not saying your campaign is necessarily a left-wing body but I would reckon a poll of the politics of your directors and staff would give me absolutely no surprise.
  • Rod King
    commented 2019-01-10 09:18:13 +0000
    Dear Mr Taylor.

    Thank you for your comments.

    Regarding the claim that 20’s plenty is of the left of politics then I can certainly tell you that it is an apolitical movement which primarily empathises with community aspirations for more liveable streets. If you consider this to be “left of politics” then so be it. On the other hand, having conducted a Google search of " roger taylor councillor calderdale", I can see that perhaps most of the population of Calderdale is “left of your politics”. Q.E.D
  • Roger Taylor
    commented 2019-01-09 20:41:53 +0000
    I have been involved with our totally inadequate road network for decades and even at 64 still work on them. In the last 40 some years the road network, which carries some 90% of the nation’s economy, has been reduced, limited lanes and speed reductions where there is no record but gives the impression of assisting road safety. I asked for the West Yorkshire police STATS19 figures and speed is not cited as a reason for the accidents at all. Also the advent of pedestrian crossing points which sit vehicles at red long after the pedestrians have crossed brings frustration whereas other countries (USA, Australia and New Zealand are examples) tend to use the flashing amber sensible system and the even better Yield at Red also. However I have seen what these 20 mph zones have cost our council and the DfT report proves they have saved zilch, nada, nowt as we say in Yorkshire. When it has been debated in our council it is the public sector orientated (like they know what life out on the roads is like!) left of centre parties who support it, hence my observation that 20 is Plenty is of the left of politics. Q.E.D.
  • Rod King
    commented 2018-12-29 13:56:22 +0000
    Perhaps I can clarify a few points for Mr Taylor.

    If you study the police STATS19 statistics as in the DfT 2017 casualty report then this shows “contributory factors in reported accidents”. Exceeding speed limit was such a factor in 203 fatalities. Travelling too fast for conditions killed another 136. Perhaps Mr Taylor could explain his “NEVER” comment to the families of the people killed. And speed is almost universally found to be a reason why collisions were not able to be avoided by the parties concerned. The data may be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/743095/ras50001.ods

    Yes, Mr Taylor emailed me 3 times and I answered 3 times. And for the record him attributing the 20’s Plenty movement or myself as “the left” has no factual basis whatsoever. Also, for the record, 20’s Plenty gets no money from the taxpayer. The DfT report Mr Taylor refers to did not say there had been no reduction in casualties. It said that the case studies it chose to analyse were too small to have any data that was statistically significant.
  • Roger Taylor
    commented 2018-12-27 08:24:48 +0000
    What complete and utter garbage. Most residential streets reaching 30 MPH (like drivers aren’t capable or responsible to drive to the conditions????) is out of the question anyway. If it is then the chances are there are it is a long, straight street with good visibility so any danger is spotted early on like the child running in to the road or a dozy pedestrian wandering across. If you actually study the police’s STATS19 speed is NEVER the cause but hey, why let a bit of truth and an MBE get in the way of PC propaganda? I emailed your Mr King and for a couple of times he replied, then after my third email he did what the “left” always does, ignored it. Wow, such a strong will full of facts finds it hard to answer a critic. Keep fooling the public, bet you get taxpayers’ money also, but as the DfT report shows, there has been absolutely NO reduction in casualties because of this expensive and totally unnecessary 20 MPH limits.