Why 20mph on residential roads is good for all of us

All over the UK, local communities have voted to go 20mph. Today some 13½ million people live in towns and cities where their local authorities have implemented 20mph on residential roads. And in London, six boroughs now have 20mph on all their roads, with three more rolling it out during 2016. In Inner London over half the population now live on 20mph streets.

Fewer pedestrian casualties

In our Borough, there were 1,124 road casualties in 2014. This was an increase of 13% over the previous year. Of those injured, 200 were pedestrians – an increase of 23% over the previous year. A 20mph speed limit will reduce those numbers because drivers will have more time to react and avoid a collision.   According to the Highway Code, the typical stopping distance for a vehicle travelling at 20mph is only 40 feet, about half the distance (75 feet) for vehicles being driven at 30mph. Slower speeds also mean injuries tend to be less severe, in the event of a crash.

Fewer cyclists injured

Between 2000 and 2013, the proportion of road casualties who were cyclists in our borough rose from 12% to 29% of the total number of people injured. The actual number of cyclist casualties rose from 170 in 2000 to 290 in 2013. In 2014, the figure rose further to 324 – nearly one person injured in Wandsworth every day. Slower vehicle speeds will mean fewer injured cyclists.

Less rat-running

If all residential roads are 20mph, drivers will be less tempted to save time by using them.

Cleaner Air

Diesel engines, recent Imperial College research shows, produce fewer harmful emissions at 20mph than at 30mph. Slower, more smoothly flowing traffic also helps improve air quality.

Quieter streets

The faster a vehicle goes, the more noise its tyres and engine make. Slowing vehicles down will make our residential streets more peaceful.

Cutting congestion and delays on our roads

20 mph reduces the number of road collisions which are a major cause of traffic delays. 20mph, along with improvements in London’s public transport, also helps reduce the number of private vehicles on the road. This means less congestion and less delay for drivers who have to use their vehicles for work or other reasons.

Helping us be healthier

20mph makes our streets safer and more attractive for walking and cycling. Parents may then be more inclined to let their children walk or cycle to school. And the just over half of households who own cars in the borough may use them less for very short trips. So more of us, adults and children, may take the daily exercise good health requires.

Benefits for older people

Roads that are difficult to cross and are filled with noisy, fast-moving traffic, deter some older people from going out of their homes. A 20mph speed limit makes streets less intimidating. Older residents will feel more confident about going out to local shops and services, visit friends, and enjoy our parks and commons.

Less confusion for drivers

The present patchwork of different speeds on particular road is confusing for drivers. A general speed limit of 20mph on all residential roads will make things much clearer.