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Why we need to preserve our 20mph city

The Green Party believes it is vital that we retain the 20mph limits in the city which have brought such benefits for huge areas of the city as a whole. 20mph is good for our safety, our environment and our health.

We would be appalled if there was any attempt to remove them, and would like to see strong evidence of the need for removal in any of the streets mentioned in the review.

The benefits of 20mph have often been cited, but are as follows:

1. Safety

A peer reviewed paper produced by UWE (1) demonstrates that ‘The estimated total number of injuries avoided across the city each year is 4.53 fatal, 11.3 serious, and 159.3 slight injuries.’

The graph (7) illustrates this:

2. Saves money

The same report also estimates that ‘The estimated annual saving following the decrease in casualties is £15,256,309’

3. Cuts speeds

It also tells us ‘there was a statistically significant 2.7mph decrease in vehicle speeds’. Average speed decreased on 100 roads out of 106.’

4. Doesn’t increase and may cut emissions

Intuitively, it must be obvious to all of us who live in a city that the idea of the ‘open road’ is a myth. Cities are beset with junctions, roundabouts, mini-roundabouts, various crossings, traffic, but above all – an awful lot of other traffic. All of these slow motorists down. Indeed, driving advice is that it is better (more fuel efficient) to drive at a constant slower rate than doing a lot of accelerating and decelerating (2).

5. It’s good for cyclists and pedestrians

One of the most common reasons people give for not cycling is fear of traffic. Clearly part of this is the fear of being hit by vehicles. By slowing down the traffic, you encourage more people to cycle. Likewise, a stream of speeding vehicles can clearly make it harder for pedestrians to cross the road, especially elderly pedestrians.

6. It’s good for motorists

Living Streets (3) suggest ‘drivers cut their spacing as  braking distances contract, shorter gaps mean more vehicles use the available road space, reducing standing traffic, and filtering at junctions becomes easier. Also – given lower speeds encourage active travel, the roads become clearer!

7. It's good for health

Because it encourages active travel (ie cycling and walking), the population as a whole becomes healthier.

8. Good for the planet

And this should give the planet a better chance in our fight against runaway climate change.

 9. Labour Wales is thinking of doing it….Labour London too!

A recent report (4) shows the Labour devolved assembly in Wales is considering introducing a blanket zone in built up areas. The world is moving to more people-friendly, family-friendly towns and cities. Another report shows the London mayor is also thinking of doing it (8).

10. Safer for cyclists

Bristol City Councils own research (5) shows ‘There was a clear reduction in injury odds in 20mph compared to 30mph’ for cyclists

11. Dangers of higher speeds for pedestrians

Bristol City Councils own research (6) also shows ‘For example, the risk of being killed is almost 5 times higher in collisions between a car and a pedestrian at 50km/h (31mph) compared to the same type of collisions at 30 km/h (18.6mph) reports OECD.’

We could go on.

In conclusion, we repeat – it is vital that this city maintains its commitment to 20mph, and needs to be looking at ways to improve its effectiveness. We need to move on from a debate about the benefits of lower speeds, and accept them for the success that they are.


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