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09/03/2012 // INFO Leave a comment

20mph speed limit on Bristol’s residential roads now a reality



The relaxation of government bureaucracy to allow local councils flexibility to introduce 20mph zones in residential area bodes well for Bristol which under its Liberal Democrat run City Council plans to introduce a city wide scheme.

Bristol City Council has been running two pilot 20mph zones in the east and south of the city but there are plans afoot to introduce the 20mph speed limit in residential areas all over the city in the next three years with work starting in the autumn. This would make Bristol the first city in the country to introduce a blanket 20mph speed limit on residential roads within the city itself.

Monitoring report on pilot zones

The move to a city-wide scheme follows the publication of a monitoring report on the pilot zones this week which points to positive outcomes in terms of road safety.

Evidence from the report showed that in the two zones, which cover a total of 500 roads and 30,000 homes, drivers have been slowing down as a result of 20mph signs being put up in those areas. This is without any large police enforcement of the zones.

“The overall results show that ‘signs only’ 20mph has been accompanied by a small but important reduction in daytime vehicle speeds, an increase in walking and cycling counts, especially at weekends, a strengthening of public support for 20mph, maintenance of bus journey times and reliability, and no measurable impact on air quality or noise,” the council’s monitoring report on the pilot schemes stated.

There was an increase in counts for cycling in both zones (from a 4% increase to a 37% increase, depending on weekday and weekend variables). Other findings from the monitoring report include the fact that 65% of roads saw a reduction in mean speeds with 18 roads no longer seeing average speeds above 24mph.

Residents want 20mph zones

The report also stated that residents in the zones were overwhelmingly in favour of a 20mph speed limit on residential streets with 89% in favour. More than two-thirds (70 %) of them were also in a favour of a citywide ban. The figure dropped to 56% for a 20mph limit on main roads.

Residents did flag up concerns about the level of enforcement of the 20mph zones by the Police since the pilots started. The City Council states in the monitoring report that it would need to consult with Avon and Somerset Police on enforcement issues if a city-wide scheme is introduced.

Residential roads only

If a city-wide 20mph speed limit is introduced all but Bristol’s main roads will have the speed limit according to Liberal Democrat Councilor Tim Kent, who is in charge of Bristol City Council’s transport policy.

Mr Kent told the Bristol Evening Post that even a reduction in speed of 5mph could make the difference between life and death for pedestrians and other road users.

“This is not about putting a police officer on every corner and making sure people drive at 19-and-a-half miles per hour. This is about improving the quality of people’s lives by making roads safer for children to use, encouraging them to walk to school and for people of all ages to walk and cycle.”

“We would obviously not introduce 20mph on the city’s busiest roads but where there are borderline cases, we would want this considered by the Neighbourhood Partnerships.”

Bristol City Council’s full monitoring report on the pilot 20mph zones can be found here.

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