National and local governments are setting 20mph limits; why you should do the same

A nearly universal aspiration in communities is to make traffic speed compatible with community life and human survivability.  A 30mph limit is no longer fit for purpose for urban and village streets. Lower default limits are being set. Choose 20mph.

Local Councillors and Police and Crime Commissioner often say that their most common public complaint is “traffic speed”.  Many local and national governments are replacing 30mph with 20mph on most roads. 21 million people now live in places where parties from across the political spectrum agree that 20's Plenty where people live, work, play, learn and shop.

At community and constituent level the support is overwhelming and in the UK, national government surveys consistently show 70% agreement with 20mph as the correct limit for residential streets. This is matched by local surveys which show support for 20mph grows after implementation.


Setting 20mph as a normal speed limit is supported by WHO and UN General Assembly which endorsed the call made by 130 global road safety ministers to set 30kmh as the maximum speed wherever pedestrians and cyclists mix with motor vehicles (unless evidence exists that a higher speed can be made safe by separate facilities). Speed limiters in all new car models from 2022 will enhance compliance. In 2021 30kmh and 20mph default limits are the focus of the UN Global Road Safety Week.

21m people already live in local authorities that embrace a 20mph limit on most roads with minimal physical calming. In England and Scotland, central governments encourage Local Authorities to set 20mph on local roads but it is more expensive than a national approach. In Wales therefore, cross-party support in the Senedd has led to approval for a national 20mph limit in towns and villages. 

Costs are approx. £3 per head and provide value for money seven times higher than targeted physically calmed speed reduction zones. Gains are an impressive 20% reduction in crashes. Doing nothing simply adds to societal crash costs and the load on the NHS.  As well as being great value for money through returns to society by crash and casualty reductions, lower speed limits become the foundation of local active travel, community connection, noise reduction, air quality and duty of care strategies.  Wide area 20mph limits are popular and bring economic, social and environmental benefits.

Rod King MBE, Founder and Campaign Director for 20’s Plenty for Us commented:-

“Once councillors understand the efficacy and popularity of 20mph default limits it is evidently a successful change for the better in communities. Key to understanding the benefits is to detach from the ‘behind the windscreen’ view and understand it as a network-wide lowering of speed, risk, casualties and fear of walking and cycling. We ask all prospective and elected local councillors and PCCs to embrace this important and vote-winning initiative. Put it in your manifesto and contact us for more information.”

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