At Living Streets, we think that streets and pavements should be safe and accessible for everyone. These limits will play a huge part in encouraging more walking and wheeling, which in turn can reduce car use, congestion and air pollution.
Most importantly, 20mph speed limits will save lives. If someone is struck by a vehicle at 20mph, their chance of survival increases by 93%. This decreases with every mile driven faster.
Spain reduced the speed limit to 30km/h (18.64mph) on the majority of its roads in 2019, and since then, there have been 20% fewer urban road deaths, with fatalities reduced by 34% for cyclists and 24% for pedestrians.
In Wales, it is estimated that a lower speed limit will save up to 100 lives and 20,000 casualties in the first decade of the new legislation.
And according to research, setting the default speed limit at 20mph in residential roads in Wales will save £100m in its first year alone. It could also help to reduce pressure on the NHS from a reduction in injuries from road traffic collisions.
Despite some opposition, 80% of adults surveyed said they would support the new legislation, which shows that most of us want to live in communities where it is safer to walk or cycle for everyday journeys.
Slower traffic speeds will make our communities stronger, safer and more pleasant places to live, work and play. It will give the streets back to people and make them feel more able to walk or cycle in their communities. One in three Welsh adults said that 20mph speed limits would increase their likelihood of walking more often.
Despite some opposition, 80% of adults surveyed said they would support the new legislation, which shows that most of us want to live in communities where it is safer to walk or cycle for everyday journeys.Stephen Edwards, CEO, Living Streets
Welsh Government has piloted a 20mph speed limit in eight areas of Wales and early monitoring reports show that in these areas, more children are walking, cycling, and scooting to school. And data from WOW – the walk to school challenge from Living Streets – reported that schools in 20mph areas have seen a greater increase in active travel journeys (49% to 74%), compared to schools predominantly in 30mph areas (49% to 67%).
Children also reported feeling much safer on their journey to and from school each day.
Getting to 20mph was the result of a long campaign for change – involving Living Streets Cymru and partner organisations. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve campaigned on speed limits. Back in 1934, when we were known as the Pedestrians Association, we successfully advocated for the introduction of the 30mph limit. Now it’s time to see how 20mph will improve health, wellbeing and quality of life for people in Wales.
Stephen Edwards is CEO of the charity Living Streets. The charity's mission is to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more.