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Guidance on why we are introducing a 20mph speed limit.

First published:
8 July 2021
Last updated:

Why do you want to introduce a 20mph speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets across Wales?

We believe that introducing a 20mph on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets across Wales would:

  • reduce the risk and severity of injuries as a result of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable road users
  • encourage more people to cycle and walk
  • make Wales more attractive for our communities
  • bring physical and mental health benefits.

Will this affect all roads that are currently 30mph?

The change in legislation will only affect residential roads and busy pedestrian streets. We are working closely with highway authorities to identify potential roads where speed limits will be reduced to 20mph and those which should remain at 30mph.

Have you already decided this is going to be rolled out across Wales?

The online public consultation, data collected from 8 settlements being introduced across Wales throughout 2021 and early 2022, together with specific focus groups and other stakeholder engagement will be evaluated. This will help to inform policy decisions. If the proposed legislation is passed by the Senedd, 20mph speed limits will be rolled out across Wales.

My local area is, or is becoming 20mph. Is it part of the Welsh Government initiative?

Local authorities have been introducing 20mph speed limits across the country due to the recognised benefits and public support. The 8 settlements that form the first phase of the proposed 20mph rollout are:

  • Abergavenny and Severnside, Monmouthshire
  • Central North Cardiff
  • Buckley, Flintshire
  • Cilfrew Village, Neath and Port Talbot
  • St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire
  • St Brides Major, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Llanelli North, Carmarthenshire

Will the police enforce the proposed 20mph speed limit?

We have been working closely with the police to develop an enforcement strategy which we believe makes our roads safe for all users. We will be trialling enforcement in the first phase, ahead of the proposed national rollout.

Could reducing the speed limit cause congestion?

We do not believe that a 20mph speed limit will increase the number of vehicles driving on the road, so there is no reason why congestion should increase. Potentially traffic will flow more smoothly.

How will a lower speed limit promote walking and cycling?

Lower speeds mean that people feel more comfortable to walk and cycle and it is safer for children to walk to school, while older people also feel more able to travel independently and safely. There is a very large body of evidence from across the world that vehicle speeds are the main reason why people do not walk or cycle or do not allow their children to walk or cycle to school.

Could the new 20mph limit lead to more pollution?

Longer journey times does not mean more pollution. Many things contribute to pollution levels. They include:

  • driving style,
  • acceleration,
  • braking,
  • vehicle condition
  • distance travelled and
  • engine temperature.

Lower speeds encourage walking and cycling. It is safer for children to walk to school. Older people also feel more able to travel more independently and safely.

Evidence shows that vehicle speed is the main reason why people do not walk, cycle or allow their children to walk, cycle or scooter to school.

Will a reduced speed limit actually improve safety?

The World Health Organisation states that the most effective way to improve pedestrian safety is to reduce the speed of vehicles. 50% of casualties on our roads in 2018, occurred on 30mph roads. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) states that 45% of pedestrians get killed when struck by a car going at 30mph or less but only 5% when going at 20mph or less.

How will you be making people aware of the changes?

We are carrying out local information campaigns in the 8 settlement areas and working with schools to highlight the changes and the potential benefits. If the legislation is passed, there will be a national campaign to raise awareness in advance of the rollout.

What data is being collected as part of the first phase of the 20mph rollout?

Accident data as well as traffic speeds and volumes will also be an integral part of the evaluation process.

Monitors are going to be put in place in some of the settlement areas during the first Phase of the 20mph to measure and capture data about air quality.

School pupils and parents will also be surveyed to determine if the 20mph has made any difference to their travel to and from school, and their social activities.

The data will provide useful research which will be of benefit to other local authorities and possibly influence national decision-making.

Why can’t the 20mph limit be set up as timed limits (variable speed limit signs showing 20mph) during school hours only?

This won't encourage children to walk or cycle from home. This only protects children near the school where they already have safety in numbers. 80% of child casualties are on non-school trips. Introducing a 20mph speed limit will make children safer from the moment they leave home.

If the 20mph speed limit is to increase safety, why not solve parking issues outside schools?

We want to give local authorities further powers to prevent vehicles blocking footways. This is known as pavement parking and it is a criminal offence. You can report pavement parking to the police on the non-emergency number 101.

Will the 20mph roll out include rural villages?

The changes will affect ‘restricted roads’. They are usually located in residential and built-up areas of high pedestrian activity. We are working with local and highway authorities to identify roads that should stay at 30mph.

Will the roll out involve money being spent on speed humps?

There is no plan to include traffic calming (including speed bumps) as part of the change to speed limits.

Will reducing speeds to 20mph damage my car gear box?

Most modern cars can drive at 20mph without damaging the engine or components. 20mph limits have been used since the early 1990s and there have been no reported gearbox issues. Using too low a gear at any speed may increase wear on gearboxes. Using the right gear and driving at a consistent speed will help prolong engine and gearbox life.

Will the 20mph limit drive trade away from struggling towns?

Businesses are under pressure. We must look at what makes our high streets attractive places to be.

Evidence shows us that more open walking retail areas increase spend. A safer, quieter and more pleasant place to shop, talk and cross the road means people spend longer and browse more in town centres. More cafes and bars can have customers relax on the streets encouraging spend.

Some research is included below:

What is a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO)?

A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is a legal document.

It restricts, prohibits or regulates the use of the highway network in line with The Road Traffic Regulation Act.

A TRO can only be proposed for the reasons permitted within the legislation and are required to be signed and lined accordingly. Typical examples of TRO’s include:

  • speed limits
  • on-street parking restrictions
  • weight limits
  • one-way streets and banned turns
  • prohibition of driving

TROs help us to manage the highway network for all road users. This includes pedestrians. TROs aim to improve road safety and access to facilities.