20mph Myth Buster

20mph Myth Buster

Wide area 20mph limit critics cling to various myths. Learn to bust them!

20mph vs 30mph journey time

20mph (esp side roads) doesn’t significantly alter trip times or inconvenience drivers.
Jams & stops do. Constant 30mph is rare due to bends, junctions etc. Going fast between
obstructions = extra wait at next stop.



20mph is OK near schools in term time at drop off & pick up times only

80% of child casualties happen on non-school trips. Families need wide area limits for child protection from road injury – their top risk. Older people are even more likely to die or be seriously injured – 20mph is 10 times safer (than 30mph) for 60+yr olds compared to 7x for others




Variable limits only eg school times or not 20mph at night

Variable limit digital signs are expensive so & can’t go on a wide network – therefore limits end up inconsistent, confusing & don’t reduce fear of speed or increase active travel significantly.

Casualties fall, but what about Killed & Serious Injuries (KSI)?

Detractors cherry pick data, pointing to raised KSIs in some places – by tiny, insignificant amounts. KSIs are rare events. Small datasets are unreliable. In most 20mph places KSI fall along with total casualties.

Numbers of injuries on 20mph roads

The number & length of 20mph roads is rising (& 30mph roads falling). Absolute numbers  f injuries on 20mph roads could rise, whilst casualties per km fall. Denominator matters!

Income generation from fines

Fines are rare. Compliance is by engagement, pacer vehicles, speed watch volunteers, warning letters, speed awareness courses, occasional enforcement days with a few Fixed Penalty Notices and very rare points or prosecutions


Drivers could lose their licences

Police are not using 20mph limits to add points to licences or remove driving rights


Speedometer watching could be distracting

Drivers must check their speed whatever the limit. Speedometer checking should happen at 20 & 30 & 40mph, especially in urban areas. Highway Code

On 20mph roads people might take more risks

20mph is 7-10 times safer than 30mph. It is unlikely that people become 7-10 times more careless where 20mph limits are signed. Massive risk compensation is an unproven fallacy


Drivers don’t obey 30mph and won’t obey 20mph

Average & faster road speeds decrease eg in Portsmouth by 6-7 mph slower on previously 25mph+ roads. Even 1mph matters. Every 1mph less reduces casualties & severities by 6%


Educate pedestrians

Yes educate. Yet studies show road safety education alone hasn’t reduced casualties.

Slower speeds works & is recommended by WHO. Don’t blame the victims!


20mph & efficiency

Modern vehicles are efficient at 20mph. A lower gear isn’t always needed. Fuel use and pollution fall due to smoother driving.


Popularity effects

Drivers want 20mph & support rises post implementation. It’s a vote winner!


Nanny state

Drivers cannot self select the limit. All UK roads have a limit (Highway Code)

UK has safe roads

Not if you are a pedestrian or cyclist, where the UK is very high risk on international comparisons. Pedestrians are 24% of fatalities

Business effects

Businesses currently pick up the bill for casualties & danger on our streets. Profits &
tourism rise with slower speeds as footfall rise



Sheffield on the Move/Motorists Forum talk

Sheffield on the Move/Motorists Forum talk 03/10.04.2014.

Hello, my name is Richard Attwood, I’m a member of the ‘20splentyforsheffield’ campaign group, which is affiliated to the ‘20’splentyforus’ organization, the National campaign group promoting the value of lower speeds where people Live, Work, Shop and Play.

 So what’s it all about? In some ways Sheffield is at a crossroads.

In my experience driving in Sheffield has become increasingly stressful, competing for space on congested roads, umpteen signs saying do this/don’t do that, cyclists and pedestrians all over the place, cameras, humps and chicanes to negotiate, trying to get a parking space and so on.

Sheffield council (SCC) wants to improve this and has a “Vision is for excellent transport in Sheffield” – the stated aim is to empower people to make informed choices about the way they travel, with a Transport policy that contributes to the social, economic and environmental improvements we want for this city, thus creating:

•       Increased opportunities for everybody

•       A competitive low-carbon economy

•       A better environment

•       A healthier population

•       A culture where the car is not always the first choice

Laudable aims, however right now our city is congested and air pollution is worsening. Public health is worsening, public health budgets are being cut whilst levels of obesity and heart disease are rising. Climate change is here, and we must make profound changes to the way we live, work and travel if we are to pass healthy cities to our own children.

 It’s about a Modal shift for personal and societal health:

The Government’s chief medical adviser, Councils (eg SCC’s  ‘Fairness Commission’ report) and umpteen various bodies have produced evidence papers and guidelines saying we need a Modal Shift in our Travel Choices.

Around two thirds of UK journeys under five miles are made by car, compromising our health, our environment and our communities.

 ‘Active Travel’ on the other hand, be it using our feet or our cycles and/or public transport, means we build health giving and social exercise into our everyday lives, rather than maybe driving to an expensive Gym.

People who are active have significantly lower risk of physical problems such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes and also mental illnesses such as Anxiety and Depression are reduced. (This author’s own high Blood Pressure/Cholesterol levels were reduced by adopting cycle commuting, avoiding the need for medication.)

So why don’t more of us do this, and encourage our children too?

 It’s about Choice: People tell you the reason they don’t choose healthier travel modes is Fear, people get anxious for themselves and for their children around speeding vehicles.

Fear of traffic keeps children and old people shut up at home while those who would like to get out and lead a healthier life find that their anxieties in our street environment stop them from doing so. Tragically, our road safety record is now worsening, and more than half of road deaths and serious injuries, mainly children, occur on roads with 30 mph limits.

Britain has the highest percentage of pedestrian road fatalities in Europe (22.5%) and one of the lowest levels of children walking or cycling to school. Sheffield parents consistently cite traffic speed as the main reason why they drive children to school, rather than letting them walk or cycle.

 20’s Plenty for Sheffield believes there is a solution: Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20 mph has been found to decrease child pedestrian accidents by up to 70%, whilst increasing urban journeys by just 40 seconds maximum. In Portsmouth the 20mph limit on all residential roads has reduced casualties by 22%. In Bristol walking and cycling increased significantly. That’s why so much of the UK is adopting 20mph as the default speed limit in residential areas, and places where the main business of the road; shopping, schools, leisure and work, is around people and their movements, rather than vehicles.

It’s about ‘Place’: In cities like London, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Hull, Leicester, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester and Warrington, council officials are using the recent DfT Guidelines, and now monies from the public health budget, to introduce blanket 20 mph limits on appropriate streets.

In National surveys 80% of the public and 75% of drivers support 20 mph as a speed limit on residential streets, and in places like Coventry wide 20mph areas have dramatically improved the experience for all road users. In Friday rush hour traffic in Coventry this author witnessed:

  • More and safer people using a more inviting/relaxed city centre.
  • Vehicles queues reduced or eliminated as flow improves.
  • Improved parking provision for motorists.
  • Taxis and buses moving easily (contrary to their initial fears)
  • People in vehicles/on foot/cycles interacting calmly for shared space.
  • Not one angry car horn blast!!

As a result Coventry is finding satisfaction and retail confidence is up.

Better public realm and streets where traffic is perceived as less threatening are seen as more attractive to investors, having greater ‘footfall’ as people get out and about, spending their money locally, facilitating a more resilient local economy.

 It’s about road use: It doesn’t mean that all roads should be 20mph.

We need to decide speeds on the basis of how the road is used, not whether it’s a ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or a “distributor” road. Some of these roads are the very roads that children could walk or cycle to school on, or older people use to walk to the local shops in comfort and safety.

It is time for appropriate roads to be equitably shared with all users, setting an appropriate speed limit that protects the young and the vulnerable. Streets where people concentrate to Live, Work, Shop and Play should be 20mph – it’s as simple as that.

It’s about Culture shift: implementing a 20 mph limit requires an active public education campaign, consultation, signage, and/or road markings, changing traffic regulation orders through advertising in local media plus local authority officer time, and the move to considerate and calm driving will take time to become established as a social norm, just as initiatives such as seat belts and the indoor smoking ban took years of education and culture shift before they became custom and practice. But like lower speeds the benefits are clear.

‘Light touch’ (ie normal) policing can enforce 20 limits in the usual manner. ACPO now says that where drivers are regularly and wilfully breaking the law ‘we would expect that officers will enforce the limit and prosecute offenders speeding over 24mph.’

It’s about Taking the 20 Challenge! Try sticking to 20mph as you drive the new 20mph roads, and in doing so you may notice two things:

Personally I became aware that I really could stop quickly if I needed to, avoiding the stress and potential tragedy of a collision, rather than my usual ‘hoping I don’t have to try’ approach when I travel at 30mph.

I also noticed that I invariably end up at the next junction or queue in pretty much the same manner as before, with the same vehicle in front of me, regardless of its speed down the same stretch of road in the interim.

As a 20 driver I am less stressed, use less fuel, feel safer, and I know that I am having much less impact on my neighbourhood, increasing the chances that others will feel safe enough to begin making healthier travel choices for themselves and their children. I’ve noticed too that all these benefits come at little or no cost to my journey time.

It’s about talking to your Councillors:

Councillors set speeds and are required to do what’s best for us.

Ask your councillors to push for lower speeds and safer, more people friendly streets where you and your family live, work, shop and play, aand do so sooner rather than later. Sheffield City Council has had 20mph ‘zones’ for years, and adopted the principle of city wide 20mph in 2011, but progress implementing it is too slow. By taking an area by area approach over 10+ years, our Council is going down a path that denies the many benefits of lower speeds to many Sheffielders, confuses drivers, and increases the costs of implementation by at least double SCC’s 2012 cost estimate of £3m for whole city implementation.

It’s about us all pushing for 20mph across Sheffield by 2020! 

Team Hillsborough Letter to Clr Leigh Bramhall – March 2014

Letter from Team Hillsborough to Leigh Bramhall & Jack Scott received by 20s plenty for Sheffield.

Consideration of wider 20 mph zones to cover the Hillsborough area

I write following a meeting of Team Hillsborough to ask you to consider the potential positive impact wider a 20 mph scheme across the whole of Hillsborough could have on the safety, usability of local facilities, health, transport use and other improvements in the area.

We were advised of the wider “20 is plenty” campaign, and we recognise that at the present time it is very difficult to even consider asking the Council to put more onto its agenda.

However, we think there could be positive benefits in a medium-term consideration of the potential impact and benefits, and would like to make the following points:

1. The planned road-works renewals in a couple of years time in the Hillsborough area, by Amey, would provide a good opportunity for a general improvement of the current confused and multiple speed limits across the area;

2. The costs of a single broader scheme would appear to be less that the cost of the considerable number of micro-schemes, on the evidence of some other cities, hopefully resulting in a reduction in cost to the Council;

3. We believe that the impact of such a scheme on the usability of the Hillsborough shopping area, its affect on the residential areas, and other benefits would assist a positive improvement in the regeneration of Hillsborough, and could be part of any Business Improvement District proposal that emerges in the coming months;

4. We recognise there might be a concern that it might be felt to need more police enforcement, but it is suggested in the group also that most people take account of the limits, and that community consent would be a positive step in the right direction, even without increased policing.

We would like to assure you that we understand that Team Hillsborough has no formal representative role, and we recognise that there are many interests involved in such a move. We understand that such a proposal would need consultation, a policy change on the part of the Council, and the integration of such a plan across other local initiatives.

But we would like to ask you to consider how the proposal might assist the overall improvement of an area that feels a bit “left out” in the regeneration stakes.

Thank you

Team Hillsborough

YouGov survey shows Briton’s want 20mph and demonstrates benefit of increasing police support

A 20’s Plenty for Us Press Release Jan 2014

www.20splentyforus.org.uk/Press_Releases/YGSurvey. pdf

Academics at UWE Bristol’s Social Marketing Centre have analysed a YouGov survey and concluded that, whilst most Britons want and intend to abide by20mph limits for residential and busy streets, they see the need for enforcement.
Professor Alan Tapp and Professor Clive Nancarrow studied replies to the recent YouGov survey of Great Britain.  The survey found majority support for 20mph speed limits in residential streets (65%) and busy shopping areas and busy streets (72%).  Road safety and children’s safety were the public’s collective priorities, followed by making our streets more pleasant to live inencouraging more walking and cyclingreducing noise and improving the quality of life. See the report press release here
This YouGov survey is in line with the British Social Attitudes survey which found 72% support 20mph limits for residential roads and only 11% against.
With one-fifth of people in the UK already living in places already committed to wide area 20mph limits, these findings are encouraging for local authorities bringing in slower urban road speed limits.  
However, on obeying new limits the report provides evidence in support of our view that whilst most people intend to abide by the limits their behaviour may become influenced by law breakers if police are not providing any routine enforcement. Professor Alan Tapp found :-
  • · 73% of adults in GB agreed that ‘breaking speed limits is not acceptable in most circumstances’
  • · 64% of drivers agreed that they ‘will be careful to observe new 20 mph limits wherever they are’
  • · 31% of drivers agreed ‘If a 20mph speed limit is introduced, I may not stick to it’.  
  • · 28% of drivers agreed ‘I use my own judgement, not speed limits, to decide on my speed on the road’.
  • · 7% of drivers agree ‘I think people should be free to drive at whatever speed they want to’
  • · 37% of drivers agreed ‘they tend to drive at the speed of others on the road’
  • · 71% of drivers agreed ‘people will ignore 20mph limits because they don’t see themselves getting caught by the police  
Rod King MBE of 20’s Plenty for Us commented :-
“This report demonstrates that the vast majority of people both support 20mph limits and intend to comply with them. Recent ACPO guidance changes enable far greater police support and we are seeing many police forces responding positively to local 20mph implementations. This report shows the clear public support for 20mph limits and the pivotal role that police can play in the delivering the quieter, safer and more liveable streets that the public are demanding.”
Prof Alan Tapp will present research findings and answer questions at The ‘Time for 20’ National 20mph conference on 18th February 2014 in Camden. It will also include new enforcement technology and processes for community-led enforcement. This event recognises that the UK is transitioning to a national limit of 20mph for roads in built up areas.  Almost 13m people live in authorities with this policy.  20’s Plenty for Us is calling on the DfT to allow signing exceptions to 20mph.  Updating signage rules would halve implementation costs.  
Local Authority representatives, Transport Officers, Public Health professionals, Police, Social Marketers and others can book into Time for 20 via http://tinyurl.com/BookTime420


20mph Conference – ‘Time for 20′ Tues 18th February 2014 – Camden Town Hall, London

The 5th National 20mph conference focuses on how to roll out limits.
It features speakers on signage rules, cases studies of implementations to improve the public realm, healthy lifestyles and reduce casualties. Learn from leading UK experts and the first authorities to implement wide 20mph on how to get it right.

With so many of the UK’s iconic cities and places implementing 20mph limits for most of their residential and urban streets then our ‘Time for 20’ conference explores how the UK is effectively in transition to a national limit of 20mph for restricted road. The conference will look at key local and national issues for local authorities and organisations :-

    • Is the 30mph blanket approach to residential and urban speed limits so compromised that it should be changed to 20mph?
    • What relaxations on signage are expected in the new changes to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions and how can this substantially reduce signage costs?
    • How is Public Health changing the whole approach to managing our urban streets?
    • What is the experience of local authorities who are implementing wide area 20mph limits?
    • What is the consensus from national organisations representing local authorities?
    • What case studies provide insight into developing best practice on 20mph roll-out?
    • What ways are available to maximise compliance?

Chaired by Rod King MBE Founder/Director of 20’s Plenty for Us, the morning comprises Graham Hanson from the DfT on signage, a video with the Under Secretary Robert Goodwill MP and Iain Simmons from City of London/LoTAG. Also case studies including Camden with Cllr Phil Jones plus others from around the UK. The afternoon includes a presentation on the back office workings of enforcement and workshops on consultation and engagement, improving cost effectiveness and best practice in implementing 20mph limits .

Who is it for? Highways, safety and public health officers, Local Councillors, police and campaigners

Where? Camden Town Hall, London

“Once a local authority fully considers all road users the only sensible solution is that 20’s plenty where people live, work, shop, learn, walk and cycle. This conference shows them how best to achieve that and also puts it into the context of a developing national debate on what is best for our communities.”

Rod King – 20’s Plenty for Us

The event is run by 20’s Plenty for Us and Landor.

Get more details or book via http://www.transportxtra.com/events/events/?id=2228

Letter in the Local Press

This was featured in the Sheffield Star on-line, and a modified version was the main letter in the print version of the Sheffield Telegraph.


In March 2012 Sheffield City Council, rightly convinced of the benefits for all road users, residents and shopkeepers of lower speeds where people live, endorsed a strategy for the introduction of 20mph speed limits across appropriate areas of our city.

As an affordable start to this process, 14,000 households in seven areas of Sheffield were recently consulted to see if they wanted 20mph zones in their area.

Having received only a handful of objections, our council, like an increasing number in the UK, decided to go ahead, and the signs are going up now.

These are legal limits, just like 30mph ones, so I have been sticking to 20mph as I drive down Crookesmoor Road, and in doing so I have noticed two things.

Firstly, I’ve become aware that I really could stop quickly if I needed to, avoiding the stress and potential tragedy of a collision, rather than my usual ‘hoping I don’t have to try’ approach when I travel at 30mph.

Secondly, I’ve also noticed that I invariably end up at the next junction or queue in pretty much the same manner as before, with the same vehicle in front of me, regardless of the speed it’s been driven.

So for me taking the 20mph challenge has been worthwhile. As a driver I am less stressed, use less fuel, feel safer, and having less impact on my neighbourhood. www.20 splentyforsheffield.org.uk