Supporters of 20mph limits – which research has shown is seven out of 10 adults surveyed – need to make their voices heard. In Bristol City Council’s consultation on the safer speed limits, which is open from 20 June to 31 August, Bristol citizens are invited to say whether certain roads in their ward should have their speed limits changed, with 83 20mph roads and six 30mph roads up for review.
Slower speeds dramatically increase people’s likelihood of survival if they are hit by a vehicle. Ninety-five per cent of people hit by a car travelling at 20mph would survive, while at 30mph, 55 per cent would. A UWE study published in February found average speeds have reduced by 2.7mph in 20mph areas.
This is especially good news for children and young people, who are more likely to get hit by a car than adults. Primary school age children can’t judge the speed of a car travelling above 20mph, research has shown. And children from the poorest neighbourhoods are six times more at risk of traffic injury than children from the wealthiest areas of the city. Zoe Trinder-Widdess, a parent from Easton and Communications Manager for Bristol Health Partners, said:
“I am a huge fan of 20mph, and I don’t just mean where I live or round my daughter’s school. You can really tell the difference between a 20mph road and a 30mph road. Roads with 30mph limits are much more stressful to walk along, let alone cross, especially with children in tow. They form a barrier between us and the places we want to get to – often the parks and green spaces in our neighbourhood, ironically enough. Having to deal with speedier roads puts you off walking or cycling, so more people drive and the vicious circle continues.
“We’re lucky to live in a quiet neighbourhood anyway, but with 20mph I am more comfortable in allowing my daughter to cycle on the roads or cross them unsupervised, as part of developing her life skills. I want to see more roads become 20mph, and I hope that the consultation doesn’t result in us losing the wonderful network of safer streets that we’ve got.
“I’ve already responded to the consultation – and anyone who wants to see our safer streets protected should do the same.”
Zoe and her daughter Greta love 20mph so much that they’ve created a poster showing their support.
Other groups that also benefit from slower speeds are people with mobility issues, such as older people and people with disabilities. Anyone who walks or cycles around the city will also see the advantage of slower speeds.
Dr Suzanne Audrey, Senior Research Fellow in Public Health at the University of Bristol and co-Director of the Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments Health Integration Team (SHINE), is also urging people to complete the consultation to protect the limits.
Dr Audrey said:
“20mph limits are such an obviously effective way of making our neighbourhoods safer and healthier. The recent UWE review found that more people are walking and cycling since the lower speed limits were brought in. While it’s difficult to directly connect this increase in active travel with 20mph what we do know is average speeds have dropped since they were brought in.
“We all know that people need to be more active and get out and about more, for their physical and mental health. These slower speed limits are a powerful way to enable that. Many of the roads that are up for review are the busier, more dangerous roads. They’re also arterial routes for pedestrians and cyclists, not just motorists. It would be a tragedy for Bristol if we lose the wide network of safer speed limits we were lucky enough to establish when 20mph was first introduced.”