THE Senedd has given cross-party backing to proposals that will make 20mph the default speed limit on all restricted roads by 2023.
Presenting the findings of a report which recommended the changes, Lee Waters MS said a “long-term emphasis on hearts and minds” will be required to succeed.
“Even a 1mph drop in average speeds is likely to bring about a 6% drop in casualties. 99 children were either killed or seriously injured on 30mph roads in Wales in 2019. We should never have tolerated these figures, but with more people walking and cycling as a result of coronavirus, the case for lowering speeds and making our streets safer is unequivocal” He said.
The Deputy Transport Minister explained “At the moment, communities can request to lower their speed limit from 30mph to 20mph. These proposals will turn this system on its head – with council’s having to make the case to go higher to 30mph in areas where exceptions are justified.”
The report said there was “overwhelming evidence” that a 20mph default would save lives and reduce the severity of injuries. It also outlined wider benefits, such as making people more confident to walk and cycle, less noise, and reduced health inequalities. Significantly, it stressed that the impact on journey times was likely to be negligible, as calmer traffic flows resulted in reduced bunching on busy intersections.
The author of the report, Phil Jones, said “This needs to be seen as a major government project, with road-safety campaigns and other nudge measures wedded to robust enforcement. This won’t happen overnight, because this will require a wholesale shift in driving culture.”
Lee Waters said “Just like the introduction of seatbelts, and the smoking ban, we want slower speeds to become common sense on our restricted roads. This will go alongside our aim to curb pavement parking, and putting record investment into active travel, all making our communities safer and more enjoyable places to live, work, move, and play.”