UK nation to become world’s first to adopt 20mph speed limit on residential roads

EU: Speed limiters to be implemented from 2022

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The Senedd is set to vote on the Welsh Government’s plans to introduce a national 20mph speed limit on residential roads on Tuesday. If the law is passed, it will result in the current 30pmh speed limit being reduced to 20mph on most residential roads and busy streets.

Welsh leading active travel groups have claimed that the move will see Wales become the first country in the world to introduce such measures.

The aim of the new policy is to reduce the number of road traffic collisions and improve air quality.

On top of that, those who favour the new measures claim that they will reduce noise pollution and encourage motorists to shift away from cars.

If the Senedd votes in favour of the policy, it is expected to come into force from September 17, 2023.

The Government is estimating that the move will also save money in the long run.

Ministers claimed that it will cost £33million to implement the changes.

However, they expect the new speed limit to save £58million by reducing the use of emergency services and hospital admissions.

Those who support the move added that pedestrians are 40 percent less likely to die when hit by a vehicle travelling at 20mph compared to 30mph.

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Dr Sarah Jones, consultant in environmental public health at Public Health Wales, said: “Travelling at 20mph has been shown to reduce the risk of crashing and the severity of crashes that do still happen.

“It also produces less noise pollution and reduces fuel consumption. It encourages people to walk and cycle, helping to fight obesity and improve mental well-being.

“All of these are likely to contribute to improvements in health and reduction in the demands for health services, which will help the NHS recovery from Covid.”

Nonetheless, not everyone is convinced by the new measures.

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The Welsh Conservatives have voiced their disappointment in the policy.

Sam Rowlands, MS for North Wales: “I met with local councillor Adie Drury and residents in Buckley, this morning who are extremely frustrated at the pilot scheme which has led to roads through the town having a 20mph speed limit instead of 30mph.

“They are quite rightly very concerned as they believe that pollution is increasing because cars have to drive in a lower gear and wait longer at traffic lights, there have also been more accidents and the cost of the scheme is thought to be in the region of £33million across Wales which would be better spent on more teachers, doctors and nurses.

“The trial has certainly caused a lot of problems for people living in Buckley and I am angry on their behalf as there does appear to be a lack of public awareness around these changes.

“I do support letting councils put 20mph speed limits outside schools, hospitals and other areas where evidence shows it’s a benefit, but a blanket 20mph speed limit across urban roads in Wales is just not right.”

Others disagreed, including Stephen Edwards, chief executive of Living Streets.

Mr Edwards, whose charity advocates a walking-based approach to travel, said: “This would be life-changing legislation because slower speeds will improve the places where we live, work and go to school.

“It’s simple: slower speeds save lives – and I urge Members of the Senedd to support the 20mph in the vote on 12 July and help make our streets and pavements safe and accessible for everyone in our communities.”

Christine Boston, director of sustainably travel organisation Sustrans Cymru, added: “Sustrans Cymru joins Living Streets and Cycling UK in calling for Members of the Senedd to support the proposals, because 20mph defaults will help make communities across Wales safer and more attractive places to walk, wheel and cycle.

“We believe that everyone in Wales should have access to safe streets.

“Making 20mph default limits in our communities will help to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles whilst creating opportunities for social interaction, creating happier and healthier places.

“We want communities that are built for safety rather than speed.”

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