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The 20mph rollout to make Bristol safer and healthier

4 March 2015

The 20mph rollout has been happening in Bristol since January 2014. The project is designed to make streets safer and improve quality of life for local communities. Driving at 20mph can help make the city a safer place for all road users, a more pleasant place to live and work and can help increase physical activity through an increase in walking and cycling.

Three key benefits to reducing speeds on Bristol's roads are:

  • Health: encourage more people to walk and cycle and increase mobility for children and older people
  • Safety: help reduce the rate and severity of injuries
  • Community: streets with lower traffic speeds have higher levels of sociability and greater social cohesion

The Bristol scheme

Two pilot schemes were introduced in 2010 and the citywide rollout is being implemented in six phases from January 2014. It is a sign only scheme with no physical measures. Visit to see a map of the 20mph speed limits. The first three phases came into force in 2014 and the final three areas to be installed are to be completed by summer 2015.

Children supporting the 20mph rolloutThe 20mph speed limit has been installed in residential streets and shopping areas, supported by a network of 30 and 40mph roads on key arterial routes into the city. Any main roads which are shopping areas or have schools on them have been included as these have the greatest mix of all road users and high proportion of road collisions.

20 mph speed limits are being introduced to reduce the risk and severity of collisions in Bristol. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) while there is a 20 per cent chance of fatal injury when someone is hit by a car travelling at 30 mph, this reduces to just 2.5 per cent if the car is travelling at 20mph. Slower speeds have also been shown to support people to become more active, through increasing cycling and walking.

Mayor George Ferguson said: "The new speed limit is part of a number of measures that we are introducing that will help to promote road safety, improve traffic flow, support sustainable transport and active travel and help to make Bristol a more positive place to live and work. The response to the pilot schemes has been fantastic as has been the reaction of Bristol residents during the various consultation exercises that have been underway.

"We realise that the change in speed limit will take a little getting used to but we think that people will be surprised how little impact the reduction in speed will have on journey times. We've carried out extensive research looking at popular routes through the city which shows that there will be a 10 second increase to journey times per mile in the central area. We'll be monitoring the impact of the scheme and are looking forward to reporting some positive changes within our local communities in the coming years."

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Bristol City Council's launch of 20mph limits will help road users to stop, think and kill their speed, encouraging all local people who use the roads to have greater respect not only for one another but also their surrounding community."

Dr Philip Jardine, Consultant Paediatrician said: "During my working life I have seen too many children with severe head injuries caused by collisions with vehicles. There is no doubt that for many of them their pain and suffering, and that of their families, could have been prevented if the vehicle involved had been travelling at 20mph or less. If we are serious about cutting child road deaths, serious injuries and the disabilities that result from them, we need to cut traffic speeds, and the best way to do this is through area wide 20mph zones and limits."

Will journey times increase?

Local research has shown that driving at 20mph compared to current driving speeds in the off peak adds on average an extra 10 seconds per urban mile, so the impact is very small.

Will pollution get worse?

Studies have shown that there is almost no effect on pollution as driving at 20 mph causes some emissions to slightly rise, but some to fall.

The greatest benefit will come from people walking or cycling short distances instead of driving. There are 45,000 car trips to work each day in Bristol that are below three miles in distance.

Will the police enforce the speed limit?

The police are keen to educate. They have helped 'design speed out' to ensure roads are self-enforcing, are involved in Community Speed Watch and people can be referred to the 20mph speed awareness course if caught through the use of mobile speed cameras.

What can I do to help?

You can become a Pace Car or join a Community Speed Watchgroup. If you wish to become a pace car email and a car sticker will be sent out for you to put into your car. Visit the Avon and Somerset Police website to join a speed watch group or email

The 20mph rollout to make Bristol safer and healthier
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