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Bristol’s health experts come out in support of 20mph speed limits

15 March 2016

Bristol’s health and care community are showing their support for the city’s 20mph speed limits as the council debates the issue today (15 March). A public petition supporting the speed limits, which received more than 4,100 signatures from people in Bristol and beyond, triggered the debate, the first time the issue has been discussed as a result of positive public support for the measure.

In the run up to the debate, health experts from across the city have submitted statements in support of 20mph speed limits, citing the health and wellbeing benefits the slower speeds bring, including Directors of Bristol Health Partners Health Integration Teams (HITs):

  • Professor Selena Gray, Director of the Active Older People HIT and Professor of Public Health at the University of the West of England (UWE)
  • Dr Liz Coulthard, Director of the Dementia HIT, Consultant Senior Lecturer in Dementia Neurology, University of Bristol and Honorary Consultant Neurologist, North Bristol NHS Trust
  • Dr Julie Mytton, Director of the Child Injury HIT, Associate Professor of Child Health at UWE
  • Dr Patricia Lucas, Director of the Early Years HIT, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol
  • Dr Suzanne Audrey, Director of the Healthy Neighbourhood Environments HIT, Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol

The slower speed limit benefits everyone, and particular groups that benefit include children, older people, disabled people and those with cognitive impairment. Health benefits include making neighbourhoods safer, as well as creating an environment that’s more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

Reducing speed limits to 20mph is one of nine local actions recommended for reducing health inequalities by the British Academy, the UK's national body for the humanities and social sciences. Those who live in poorer neighbourhoods are more at risk of being hurt or killed in road collisions than in wealthier neighbourhoods, and are more likely to suffer the ill effects of poor air quality. Reducing traffic speed delivers most benefit to people walking and cycling in our poorest neighbourhoods, at very little cost to local finances, and with no harm to drivers.

Last month, Atkins published interim findings from research they have carried out on behalf of the Department of Transport. The Atkins findings, based on thousands of interviews and questionnaires in 15 case study areas in England, reveal that 75% of those interviewed supported 20mph limits after implementation, compared with 51% before.

Over two thirds of drivers interviewed said the new limits were a ‘good idea’, 60% of residents thought that 20mph had provided a safer environment, while three quarters felt that 20mph limits were beneficial for their community. These findings suggest that public support for the 20mph speed limits is strong, and previous research has also suggested this to be the case.
Bristol’s health experts come out in support of 20mph speed limits
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