Bristol takes another step toward citywide 20mph speed limit


photo Over a million Londoners already live in areas where the default speed limit will be 20mph

A citywide 20mph speed limit in Bristol's residential streets has come closer to being a reality after the council's draft transport plan made road-danger reduction a key priority.

The draft transport plan says "20mph limits will be rolled out to cover all of the Bristol City Council administrative area", although it's not clear what the timetable or exceptions to this measure might be.

The final plan will be published in March 2011.

The draft comes soon after the publication of a report conducted by the University of the West of England acknowledging that reducing the volume and speed of motor vehicles is essential to reduce the numbers killed and seriously injured on the roads, and plays a vital role in encouraging cycling and walking.

Two pilot 20mph zones were established in Bristol in 2010, and their success in has encouraged the council to push on with the policy.

A spokesperson for Sustrans, the national sustainability charity that has its headquarters in Bristol, said: "With streets making up around 80% of public space in cities in the UK, we want Bristol to lead the way in improving neighbourhoods across the UK by extending a 20mph speed limit citywide in residential areas."

Sustrans is promoting more people-friendly urban spaces nationwide through its Quality Streets campaign.

The charity recently published results from a three-year study that found that speeding traffic is consistently rated as the greatest problem in local communities, with residents saying their streets:

  • aren't pedestrian-friendly
  • aren't safe for children to play in
  • aren't places where they can meet people.

Steve Kinsella of campainging organisation 20's Plenty For Us said, "The turning point was transfer [of the council] to a Liberal Democrat majority, when Dr Jon Rogers, an outspoken advocate of 20mph and campaign supporter, became Executive Councillor for Transport."

Dr Rogers said, "Encouraging safer, friendlier and healthier ways of getting around our city is the way to go."

LCC advocates strictly enforced 20mph limits in residential streets across Greater London and on Thames bridges, and has been campaigning for reduced speed limits since the 1990s.

Since that time, 20mph zones have been created all over Greater London, and the boroughs of Hackney, Islington, Lewisham and Southwark have announced plans to make it the default speed limit for residential streets.

Studies in London have shown that 20mph speed limits reduce death and injuries by over 40%, and also have a beneficial effect on surrounding streets that don't have 20mph limits.