A more balanced view of the 20mph speed limits

In his recent article, Duncan Barkes has not looked very far in his search for evidence about the benefits of 20mph speed limits on all residential roads.

Readers who would prefer a more balanced picture might consider the following.

1. GO20 is a coalition of charities and community groups across the country calling for action to make walking and cycling safer and our streets more people-friendly. It includes the Ramblers Association, the UK Health Forum, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and many others.

2. The GO20 website provides a fully referenced summary of evidence from across the UK showing the not only the road safety benefits of 20mph speed limits, but also the health, environmental and community benefits of encouraging more people to walk and cycle: http://go20.org/why-go-20/

3. One reason that sustainable transport charity Sustrans supports the GO20 coalition is that reducing speeds on the roads encourages people to make ‘green’ travel choices. The West Sussex Household Travel survey (2008) found that many people would like to walk or cycle, but consider the roads too dangerous.

4. There is increasing evidence from across the UK that 20mph speed limits in urban areas is one the best value investments a local authority can make. Warrington has reported a 800% (1:8) First Year Rate of Return (FYRR) on casualties avoided. Bristol has found a 1:24 FYRR on the health benefits of more walking.

5. The recent House of Commons enquiry into the state of cycling in the UK received a wealth of evidence from many sources. The resulting report ‘Get Britain Cycling’ includes as a key recommendation the extension of 20mph zones in towns and consideration of 40mph limits on many rural lanes.

John Coote

Orchard Close