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20 MPH Zones to be Re-considered

28 June 2010

The Sunday Times, 25 July reports that ministers are proposing a 20mph speed limit on urban roads to reduce deaths and reclaim the streets for cyclists and pedestrians.

The reduction from 30mph would apply to all town centre and residential streets except busy through roads, which will remain at the existing limit. It would be reinforced by signs rather than extra speed cameras and humps.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat transport minister, said it was time to tackle the car’s century-long dominance in towns.

The new 20mph limit, which can be introduced under existing laws, has been tested in Portsmouth, Edinburgh, Newcastle upon Tyne and Hull. York, Norwich and eight London boroughs, including Islington, have announced plans to follow suit.

It suggests that ministers are likely to base any national scheme on Portsmouth, which began its trial in March 2008 without extra traffic-calming measures or speed cameras. Despite the lack of enforcement, a preliminary Department for Transport study indicated that casualties fell by 15%, although the authors said the results were too early to be statistically significant.

A separate study of 20mph zones in the capital by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that they reduced casualties by more than 40%.

The report indicates that proposals will be laid out in a strategy document on sustainable transport in urban areas, to be put to public consultation.

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