New proposals to allow councils to put in place 20 mph schemes over groups of streets without the need for traffic calming measures such as speed humps have been announced by Road Safety Minister Paul Clark.
The Government is encouraging local councils to introduce 20 mph schemes on residential streets and other roads where cycle and pedestrian traffic is high, such as around schools, shops and parks.
In the past, councils wanting to implement 20 mph schemes on groups of roads have had to do so in 'zones' which require traffic calming measures such as speed humps. 20 mph limits without traffic calming were only recommended on individual roads.
However, following a successful city-wide trial in Portsmouth, which suggested it is possible to significantly reduce speeds on residential streets without speed humps or other traffic calming measures, the Department for Transport plans to allow 20mph limits to be used across more streets where traffic speeds are already low without the need for such measures.
Paul Clark said:
"The number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain's roads has fallen by 40% since the mid-1990s and Britain now has the joint safest roads in the world. But too many pedestrians and cyclists - including many children - are still being killed or hurt on the roads around their homes and schools.
"We have seen that 20 mph zones with traffic calming measures can make a real difference to the safety of local roads. But we've also looked at the latest research and listened to councils and residents who want to introduce 20mph limits on a series of roads where physical traffic calming measures aren't possible or practical.
"Allowing councils to put in place 20 mph speed limits on more streets without speed humps or chicanes will mean that they can introduce them at a lower cost and with less inconvenience to local residents."
A report published in the British Medical Journal found that 20 mph zones in London had led to a dramatic reduction in the number of accidents in those areas and called for more 20 mph zones and limits to be put in place.
The Government is also reiterating its call for councils to carry out speed limit reviews of their rural roads by 2011, focusing on National Speed Limit single carriageway 'A' and 'B' roads where 41% of fatalities occur. Local authorities should consider reducing the limit on the most dangerous roads where this will have a significant impact on casualties. These decisions remain entirely for local authorities to make based on their knowledge of local roads.