20’s Plenty for Wales – 20mph Conference Report: #20Wales

A sell out conference of 100 delegates met in Cardiff to share best practice on how to make streets healthier in Wales by reducing road risk at source through 20mph limits with a focus on 20mph as a national urban default.

Click on each presenter to open their presentation or 60 second voxpop

The event was supported by Cardiff City Council and opened by their lead on Transport, Councilor Caro Wild, at the Glamorgan County Cricket Ground. The 9th 20’s Plenty for Us and Landor Conferences 20’s Plenty for Wales day shared knowledge about transitioning to a 20mph national speed limit.  Cardiff are already implementing 20mph as the default on their urban streets, with exceptions for main roads.

A 20mph default is recommended by Public Health Wales. Experts say it would save up to £94M pa in injuries and £61M pa in air pollution related ill health[1].  A National 20mph default would pay back its investment in a matter of days.  Public Health Wales was represented Dr Sarah Jones and conference chair Dr Chrissie Pickin, their Executive Director of Health and Wellbeing. Their recent “position paper” called for a national 20mph default.

Devolution means that the Welsh Assembly have been able, since April 2018, to vote to set Welsh national speed limits separately from Westminster. 20mph is a superb public health change that fulfills all seven of the wellness criteria in the Well-being of Future Generations (WFG) Act. The key elements of the act were outlined by Eurgain Powell representing the Future Generations Commissioner.

John Griffiths, Assembly Member, National Assembly for Wales, spoke of his support for a 20mph national speed limit. He has organised a 20mph round table event at the Assembly.  Conference also heard from Assembly Member David Melding, a member of the Active Travel Act cross party group. He is organizing a 60-minute debate in the Senedd on a national limit with cross party support.

Rod King MBE of 20’s Plenty for Us set the International context for 20mph as the developing norm – not just for road safety, but for population and environmental health, active travel, mental health, business and tourism[2]. Recently the Institute of Welsh Affairs in its report on “De-carbonising Transport in Wales[3]” called for a default 20mph urban limit as a key recommendation. Mr King laid out why Wales should abandon the English model of local authority by local authority and seize the benefits from a co-ordinated and cost effective national urban 20mph limit with local authorities deciding exceptions.

Mark Ruskell MSP, the Scottish Green party spokesman on Environment, inspired listeners with the progress of his “Restricted Roads (20mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill[4]. This calls for a National 20mph default and has been through pre-legislative consultation with over 80% support from over 2200 consultees. Glasgow Centre for Population Health say it will save up to £40M a year in casualties.  His bill looks likely to be passed.

Paul Carter of Cardiff City Council reported on their plans for rolling out 20mph limits across the city as a core policy for their people protection and active travel strategy.

Paul Butcher, Calderdale’s Director of Public Health reported on the highly impressive results of their ‘Love Your Streets’ branded 20mph marketing campaign[5]. Road casualties have reduced by 30% in Calderdale on roads where 20mph has been implemented. The intervention is described as particularly ‘cost effective’, with the casualty reductions estimated to have delivered a saving to the public purse of around £3M in 3 years – more than three times greater than the total investment of £821k.

Prof Adrian Davis (recently appointed Professor of Transport and Health at Edinburgh Napier University – a new “world-first” post) explained the Prevention Paradox. This is where small gains for the many add up to much more than a few people benefiting from large gains.  20mph as an area-wide scheme provides small individual, yet massive overall gains to the entire population of a place, and its visitors[6].

Professor Alan Tapp of University of West of England presented on how social marketing and engagement plays a large part in maximizing speed limit compliance.

From across the globe, Anna Purvis explained how Yarra City in Melbourne Australia were implementing trial 30km/h limits thanks in part to the success of the 20’s Plenty movement in the UK. There were also reports from Mairead Forsythe on progress in the Republic of Ireland and Jeremy Leach of London from a campaigning perspective.  Kaarina Ruta presented on the progress of local campaign 20's Plenty for Sully. The final presentation was from parent Roxanne Moore on a personal perspective of how a 20mph limit saves lives.

Welsh 20mph Campaigner of the Year award was presented to Brendan Sadka of the 20’s Plenty for Sully Campaign. He said “"The case for a replacing the 30mph default speed limit on restricted roads in Wales with a 20mph limit has a powerful evidential base, clear public support and plenty of precedents in the UK and internationally. Moreover, there can be no doubt that making 20mph in Wales is very much aligned with Welsh Government policy and our nation’s public health objectives, most notably the Well-being legislation. All of this is widely recognised, so all that is left is to break the inertia and get on with it."

Anna Semlyen, National Campaign Manager for 20’ Plenty for Us said

Brendan Sadka has brought considerable international experience in both the private and public sectors to our campaign in Wales. This has enabled us to strengthen our place in advancing the conversation on 20 mph in Wales in a very short time, and at an important juncture for Government in Wales. Brendan's ability to place the issues in a Welsh context, his detailed understanding of the architecture of Welsh Government, policy and legislation, and his strengths as a communicator, underpin all of this."

A Campaigner of the Year presentation was also made to Adrian Berendt for his work in the 20’s Plenty for Kent campaign.

20’s Plenty for Us boasts over 400 local branches and that over 25% of the UK population now live in 20mph areas. 20mph is a policy that is spreading!

Rod King MBE Founder and Director of 20’s Plenty for Us commented;-

With respected Welsh establishment organisations backing 20mph there is a real sense of top down validation. We know how 20mph as the normal road speed for built up areas is an enormous public health, economic and environmental win-win. I was delighted with the response to the conference and look forward to engaging more with cross-party politicians on the next stage towards a change in Welsh speed limit law. Wales can decide to push ahead and go 20mph without the costly and time-consuming disadvantages of doing it authority by authority. It can combine national cost-effectiveness and consistency with local flexibility to deliver a real benefit to all communities.”

Conference Chair, Dr. Chrissie Pickin, Executive Director of Health and Wellbeing for Public Health Wales, explains their position statement on supporting a national 20mph default limit for Wales.

Other speakers and delegates making 60 second comments can be viewed on our Conference Voxpop page


[1] https://tinyurl.com/PHWales20

[2] http://www.20splenty.org/welshnational20

[3] http://www.20splenty.org/iwa_calls_for_welsh_20mph

[4] https://greens.scot/news/safer-streets-a-step-nearer-as-ruskell-publishes-member-s-bill

[5] http://www.20splenty.org/calderdale20success

[6] https://travelwest.info/project/ee-109-prevention-paradox-population-strategies-applied-transport


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