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80% of public back 20mph speed limits

Almost 80% of the public wants a stricter speed limit in residential areas and town centres. Campaigners say the government needs to act.

The vast majority of people support a cut in the urban speed limit, new research shows.

Almost eight in every 10 Brits agree that the 30mph limit should be cut to 20mph in town centres and on residential streets.

This is according to a survey carried out by a survey road safety charity Brake and Allianz Insurance.

They asked a representative sample of 1,000 UK adults: "Do you think 20mph should be the norm around schools, on residential streets, and in village, town and city centres?"

Traffic 'too fast'

The research also found that almost three-quarters of people say that the streets where they live should be made safer for walking and cycling.

Meanwhile, 80% say that traffic travels too fast on at least some of their local roads.

Julie Townsend, Brake’s deputy chief executive, says: "We need to tackle the senseless and violent casualties that continue to happen daily on our roads.

"We also need to enable people to live healthy, active, social lives.

"It's clear that 20mph limits in communities can help bring this about and it's clear this is what people want."

20mph limit sees fall in road casualties

According to the Department for Transport, the number of casualties resulting from road accidents dropped by more than a fifth following the introduction of a 20mph limit in parts of Portsmouth in 2010.

Stricter limits have also been introduced in London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Brake now says that the government should impose a national 20mph limit in urban areas rather than rely on a piecemeal approach from local authorities.

The findings come at a time when many councils around the UK are implementing 20mph limits in busy areas.

Cardiff introduces 20mph speed limit

Last month, Cardiff Council began a pilot scheme to cut the legal limit to 20mph in the Cathays and Plasnewydd areas of the city.

Councillor Graham Hinchey says that a public consultation prior to the scheme showed Cardiff residents were strongly in favour of a lower limit.

He adds: "More than half of the people who responded to the survey said that reducing the speed to 20mph will encourage them to cycle or walk more often."

Alex Higgs, 31, a marketing manager, lives in one of Cardiff’s pilot areas but says he is not sure what effect the law change will have.

'How will lower speed limit be enforced?'

He says: "I have no idea how they would enforce it unless they put cameras in the most obscure of streets, which I imagine would be expensive.

"Without more cameras or police radar guns, I imagine that the sensible drivers will still drive sensibly, and the speeders will continue to speed anyway."

But overall, he supports the idea.

"Streets like mine have cars parked both sides, and I lose count of the number of times stupid people walk out from behind a parked four-wheel-drive, van or people carrier without looking.

"It may also make people who are reticent about cycling on the roads that little bit more likely to do it, and with it the associated health and environmental benefits."

Brighton and Hove lower speed limit

Brighton and Hove is another area where 20mph limits have been imposed recently.

The local authority started its scheme in March 2013 and is currently extending the number of areas where the 30mph limit has been cut.

Transport councillor Ian Davey says that the city is already starting to reap the benefits of reduced limits as the number of casualties has fallen.

"That means people can gradually feel safer on the streets where they live, making neighbourhoods more accessible and pleasant for everyone."

'People drive like maniacs'

Brighton resident Laura Santer says that she is definitely in favour of limits being cut to 20mph across the city.

"People drive like maniacs along our road where there are several schools and nurseries," she says.

However, she adds, most drivers appear to ignore the lower limits on the main roads into the centre of Brighton.

"I think they would need to police the routes with cameras to make the speed limit enforceable."

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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