London is proposing 20mph speed limits – here’s the evidence on their effect on city life
Following the recent decision to lower speed limits in central London to 20mph, Dr Ruth Hunter looks at similar schemes across the UK to see what London can learn from other cities.
A new speed limit of 20mph has been proposed for roads in central London. The plans, which would reduce the limit to 20mph within the Congestion Charging Zone, are part of the “Vision Zero” strategy, which aims to “eliminate deaths and serious injuries from London’s transport network by 2041”.
The main reason for reducing traffic speed is to lessen the likelihood of a collision – and to reduce the severity of road traffic casualties. Research indicates that if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 24mph, they have a 10% risk of dying. This goes up to 25% at 32mph, and 50% at 41mph. A reduction in speed of as little as 1mph is associated with a reduction in casualties of up to 6%.
Yet plans for the 20mph limit in London have been controversial. Some question the impact it will have on increased traffic congestion and air pollution. Retailers are concerned it will discourage customers from visiting the city centre due to increased congestion. Others question the need for a 20mph limit in areas where congestion means it is rarely possible to go any faster than that. So what’s the evidence on 20mph limits so far?
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Article first appeared in The Conversation.