Why 20mph limits are being set by local and national governments and why you should do the same

It is a near universal aspiration in communities to reduce traffic speed to be more compatible with community life and human survivability.  30mph limit defaults are no longer seen as fit for purpose for urban and village streets. Lower default limits are being set. Choose 20mph.

Ask any Local Councillor or Police and Crime Commissioner for their most common public complaint and they will often say “traffic speed”.  Many local and national governments are ending default 30mph and setting 20mph limits for most roads instead. Council administrations for 21M people from left, right and centre parties as well as coalitions already agree that 20’s plenty where people live, work, play, learn and shop.

At community and constituent level the support is overwhelming. In successive government social attitude surveys 70% agree that 20mph is the correct limit for residential streets. This is matched by local surveys before 20mph implementation which always show increased support after implementation.


The efficacy of a 20mph limit as normal road speed policy is supported by organisations such as WHO and UN General Assembly who endorsed the call made by 130 global road safety ministers to set 30kmh (18.6mph) as the maximum speed wherever pedestrians and cyclists mix with motors 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.

Whilst Wales decided with cross-party Senedd support to set a national 20mph urban/village limit, English and Scottish central governments encourage local authorities to move away from the 30mph national limit and set 20mph on local roads. This is more expensive than a national approach. But already 17.5m people living in local authorities in England and Scotland benefit from a 20mph limit on most roads with signed speed limits with minimal new physical calming.

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.  And whilst 20mph gives quick value for money returns to society by crash and casualty reduction, the lower speed limits also become the foundation of local active travel, community connection, noise reduction, air quality and duty of care strategies so further widening the benefit.  Wide area 20mph limits are a popular policy that wins economically, socially and environmentally.

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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