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20mph zones facing criticism

residential area with speed limit sign that says 'Twenty's Plenty'

Whenever you're driving along and you see a 20mph, your first thought should be - this is a lower speed limit for a reason. Usually they pop up near schools, high streets or residential roads because that's where people (and scooters, dogs, street parties) are most likely to be.

However, councils have recently been urged to pause the introduction of any more 20mph zones across the country after claims there's not enough evidence they're working.

Where has this come from?

Manchester city council found that the lower speed limit was actually having much less of an impact on cutting crash rates than originally hoped for - which sucks. They felt that the money set aside for enforcing 20mph zones could be better spent on other road safety measures like speed bumps and pedestrian crossings.

Since 2014, 1,000 roads have been reduced from a 30mph to a 20mph and research has shown that speed has only been cut by an average of 0.7mph as a result.

Pedestrian and cyclist casualties HAVE fallen by a third across Manchester city, but 20mph zones don't seen to be contributing massively to those stats.

Not everyone agrees

You've probably seen the slogan '20's plenty' on your travels, and the campaign group behind that feel that the research on 20mph zones has been misinterpreted due to very low sample sizes.

20mph limits are recognised around the world, including by the World Health Organisation, as the appropriate speed where pedestrians and cyclists can mix with motor vehicles.”

Rod King
Founder and Campaign Director for 20's Plenty for Us

The RAC agrees that when planned and implemented in the right locations, 20mph zones do have their place, but they don't support using them where 30mph zones have been shown to be reasonable.

Will the 20mph sign be scrapped?

Much more work is going to be needed to evaluate the benefits of the reduced speed limit, and that's probably going to take some time. Manchester (or any other city) isn't in a rush to dump all 20mph roads, but for the time being you won't see any extra signs going up.

President of the AA, Edmund King, said speed limits should "reflect the nature of the road and be evidence-led and self-explaining” and, let's face it, that's pretty much what it's all about.

Not sure how to tell what the speed limit is? Have a read of this.

Katey Gregory

By Katey Gregory

Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.