Road Safety News

Westminster trials 20mph limits at 38 schools

Tuesday 5th September 2017

The City of Westminster has rolled out 20mph speed limits at 38 schools in the borough as part of a year-long trial.

The new limits, which came into effect yesterday (4 September), are part of a borough-wide drive to create a ‘safer, healthier and more pleasant’ environment.

The council hopes that the programme, which is supported by the Met Police, will help increase walking and cycling and make vulnerable road users - including cyclists, older people and school children - feel safer.

As part of the trial, the council will consult with local schools, residents and businesses. To assist in evaluating its impact, speed and traffic flow data will be gathered from more than 70 sensors across the trial roads.

Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) will be used to remind drivers and riders to adhere to the new limit.

The 38 schools included in the trial will also receive a road safety education programme which will include a school banner competition, theatre show, lessons and on-road pedestrian training to help engage and inform pupils about the changes.

The 20mph trial and data collection will last a year and the results will be used to inform decisions relating to the rollout of more of 20mph limits across Westminster.

Cllr Danny Chalkley, cabinet member for city highways said: “The trial supports Westminster’s aim of improving the public realm for all road users and we hope that more people will be encouraged to walk and cycle.

“By placing schools at the centre of the trial, we are ensuring a safer environment for our youngest residents. We are encouraged by the high level of support received for the trial from residents.”

Categories: 20mph, Speed.



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Hugh. One word answer.. yes.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

Because of the legislation required to implement part time speed limits and supporting official so-called "guidance", which is often mandatory, part time speed limits are worthy of a separate debate as a subject in its own right. Whether these limits are outside of a school or elsewhere.
Pat, Wales

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

There seems to be a presumption implied in one or two comments that motorists will somehow not be able to see for themselves, children coming and going near a school and who may be crossing or about to cross the road. How do those same motorists manage on other roads without schools, but which still contain pedestrians? Is the situation so bad that motorists need flashing lights or a new speed limit every time there's a potential hazard up ahead?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

M. Worthington
The part time 20mph limits are only outside schools where there is a main route (bus route etc) the other roads around the school will be full time 20mph areas.
Iain, Scotland

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

Why can't these schools a have what other authorities have had for decades and that is 20 mph signs that have flashing lights at times when the school children are coming and going?
m.worthington Manchester

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

You said it yourself David - 'just like any other urban road' i.e. a road where it is likely that pedestrians may be around 24/7 and if out of those 24hrs, it's the hours of darkness, (which I would imagine the City of Westminster experiences just like everywhere else) then slow speeds are essential, as we haven't reached the stage yet where curfews are being introduced prohibiting peds being out and about at night, just to make it easier for the motorist.

On the theme of variable limits, it sounds as if, like me, you have no confidence in motorists being able to regulate their own speed and need appropriate maximums pointed out to them for different circumstances. A sad state of affairs I'm sure you'll agree.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (9)


The reason why I had uttered a complaint about 20mph zones being used around schools 24/7 is not because I have a "problem generally with speed management by the authorities" but more that outwith three periods of an hour a day, for anywhere between 190 to 195 days a year - a road outside a school is just like any other sort of urban road.

This equates to about 570 hours over a period of 8,760 hours in a 365 day year where my experience suggests to me that this area might be a bit more challenging to safely negotiate.

That's about 7% of any given year.

As a motorist, I am an advocate of the idea that speed limits should be used for reducing risk in the vicinity of where they are needed - ostensibly to reinforce the idea that one needs to pay attention.

As such, I can't see why variable, spontaneous speed limits cannot be used for a situation such as this. I suppose the first hurdle would be to make them enforceable.
David Weston, Corby

Agree (10) | Disagree (2)

Rod, I think that Honor was talking about its effectiveness in terms of its road safety value and not in mere financial terms of which any LA could benefit.

As to whether there is now any, and I repeat any, actual stats or other evidence that show that it is an effective (but expensive) intervention. That it does what it was supposed to do and was represented to do by you and others, and that was to reduce incidents and collisions with pedestrians. So far there is a lack of such evidence even after more than 10 years of implementation in some places.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Section 6 and 6.1 of the DfT Setting local speed limits 2013 Circular 01/2013 does actually say a lot about the 24mph threshold and Rod’s comment “there is nothing in guidance which advises against this” substantially understates the DfT position.

I am also quoting below point 85 from the document word for word:

"Successful 20 mph zones and 20 mph speed limits are generally self-enforcing, i.e. the existing conditions of the road together with measures such as traffic calming or signing, publicity and information as part of the scheme, lead to a mean traffic speed compliant with the speed limit. To achieve compliance there should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement beyond their routine activity, unless this has been explicitly agreed." end of quote.
Pat, Wales

Agree (12) | Disagree (2)


Thanks for your contribution. Can I just add a couple of points:-

20mph limits are often set for roads with speeds above 24mph. There is nothing in guidance which advises against this, only that those with pre-speeds below 24mph will be most successful. In fact Portsmouth reported a 6mph reduction on roads with pre-speeds of 25-29mph.

With regard to its cost-effectiveness then an average of 2mph is £550 per mph per km of roads based on a cost of £1,100 per km. If a 20mph zone with physical calming does reduce speeds by 10mph then this is £6,000 per mph per km based on a cost of £60,000 per km. Hence 20mph limits are 5-6 times more cost effective at reducing speed than physically calmed zones.

Thanks for pointing out the wider benefits. This is always a key consideration for councils with a wide set of community responsibilities.

You say that there is resistance and argument amongst drivers but British Social Attitude Surveys show 70% agree that 20mph is the right limit for residential roads which is in agreement with DfT and many NGOs.

Thanks for the complement on our marketing. Its is amazing what can be done when public consensus is on your side. Of course the fact that 30kmh limits have widespread global acceptance also helps.

For our part we had been asking the DfT to fund proper analysis for years before the Atkins report. Hopefully this will tell us useful information such as the effect of cross-party support, police enforcement, engagement and marketing, etc. A better understanding of these will enable 20mph implementations to be better implemented and justified on a national roll-out basis.

In the meantime 20's Plenty with our humble resources and thousands of campaigners will continue continue our advocacy for urban and village speed limits which respect vulnerable road users and liveable communities.
Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (3) | Disagree (12)

Unfortunately Nick, some contributors are speaking as motorists who don't like to be slowed down and have a problem generally with speed management by the authorities. Others have a professional and selfless interest and have a duty to all road users to reduce collisions, but due to limited resources, have to be sure what works and what doesn't. Achieving lower speeds is a no brainer - how best to achieve it is where differences may lie amongst those who are tasked with it.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (5)

Just to try and get some clarity - does everyone who is posting here think that if all vehicles drove at a maximum of 20mph through residential areas and past schools at school closing and opening times then the world would be a better place? Just for the fact that the lower the speed the lower the kinetic energy so potentially the lower injury severity (for these purposes let's agree to ignore that some drivers doing 15mph might not be looking where they are going!)

Are the differences between people on this thread due to how they think lower speeds can be achieved? i.e. do some people think putting a sign up and trying to educate people will work and others think it won't?
Nick, Lanacshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

What evidence there is shows that a 20mph limit/zone/area does reduce average traffic speeds but only by less than 2mph and only from less than 24mph to start with. Whether this is sufficient to be cost effective is debatable. There probably are other intrinsic social benefits too e.g. redressing the balance between vehicles and other road users, improving the social use of residential streets that should also be considered.

I think the 20mph target and its catchy “Twenty’s Plenty” title has over-emphasised a focus on the posted speed limit at the expense of the other measures and infrastructure and their effectiveness. Using the speed limit as a campaign logo and target has been very effective in publicity terms and many people and politicians have signed up to it but it has also created an argument and resistance between drivers, engineers and others as to its appropriateness and whether the focus on speed is really solving the wider issues or not. What is lacking is consistent and robust evidence.

We need good quality information and data on the effectiveness, benefits and dis-benefits of 20 mph limits and zones, not just in large metropolitan areas but in the average sized town too. The DfT commissioned Atkins to undertake a major study into this and we await their report – whenever it is finally completed and published.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (7)

Yes Charles. The report that showed that on the just 9 free flowing 20mph roads :

Average speeds were 6 mph less than on 30 mph roads.

Compliance was increasing on 20mph roads 10 times faster on 20mph roads than 30mph roads.
Rod King, Warrington

Agree (5) | Disagree (9)

Rod, it is common knowledge and the evidence appears here, yes on RSGB, quite regularly - and quite recently in this item about the DfT statistics:

I know that doesn't suit your agenda, but that doesn't invalidate it. Let me quote from it to save you clicking: "New statistics show that during 2016, 81% of cars exceeded the speed limit on roads with a 20mph limit, with 15% exceeding the limit by more than 10mph."

Neither 20 mph limits nor 20 zones are the answer, they both legitimise speeds that are way too high for community roads and streets - and possibly encourage timid drivers to go faster. Forget trying to mandate specific speeds for these environments - that simply does not deliver safe roads - instead we need to provide fit-for-purpose streets that encourage, rather than prohibit, equal priority for all users to use all parts of the highway at all times.

We want more than just token or non-existent reductions in serious casualties, we want to eliminate serious casualties altogether. Why not mobilise your troops to campaign for something that will work, rather than wasting their time for little or no (possibly even a negative) benefit.
Charles, England

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

People young and old, alert and not so alert, are in fact allowed to move around on foot on residential highways (with or without schools on them) at anytime, night or day (it's actually not illegal) and do not require the advance consent of motorists who may drive along those highways to do so. Speed management measures are therefore required to be implemented by the authorities because too many drivers cannot, or will not, manage their speed for themselves and the limits are necessarily valid 24/7. Robert and David - take note.

On a different subject... Rod: I see we're near neighbours!
Hugh Jones , in a house

Agree (3) | Disagree (10)

I'm not adverse to 20mph speed limits around schools and politicians do seem to like them. Mind you with the congestion around most schools at start and finish times you would be lucky to get up to that speed. At the same time I do sometimes ponder on point 65 of the current Road Safety Framework for Wales which clearly states that "The majority of child pedestrian collisions take place away from schools."
Pat, Wales (somewhat west of Bristol, Hereford & Shrewsbury)

Agree (12) | Disagree (1)

You keep asserting that drivers ignore speed limits most of the time, but you never provide any evidence. Yet time and time again reports show that speeds do reduce for most roads when a 20 limit is set. Hence behaviour has changed. Whilst you may (or may not) wish for a greater reduction in speeds they are effective and 7 times more cost effective in reducing speeds that physically calmed zones.

Of course none of us know what your particular experience is because you retain geographic anonymity like Pat of Wales.

Whilst I myself may have reservations about the "just around schools" approach (AA reported on only 20% of child casualties being whilst children are travelling to or from schools) this latest initiative from Westminster is welcome.
Rod King, Earth, Universe

Agree (6) | Disagree (13)

What is the logic of a 20 mph limit outside a school in the middle of the night or during school holidays? How does that encourage a safer environment for the youngest residents?
Robert Bolt St Albans

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

I am equally not clear why Robert (from St Albans) needs to know anyway. Same goes for David (from Corby).

It's academic anyway as Charles has helpfully advised us that "..most drivers ignore them (speed limits) most of the time..." anyway. Cheers Charles - who needs surveys and studies anyway.

Hugh (from Cheshire - which is also nowhere near the City of Westminster).
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (8)

Why 24/7?

Do children normally congregate outside schools at 11pm on a bank holiday?
David Weston, Corby

Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

I think that, despite the image used, this is a 20 mph limit area, and not a 20 mph zone. I suppose as a publicity stunt lots of signs (even though known to be ineffective) make sense. However, if the goal is to influence drivers to drive at appropriate speeds for the environment then I suspect that furniture such as the "road safety mannequins" mentioned in the RSGB item, and variations thereon, would be much more effective and much more efficient.

The problem is that there seems to be an element who think that a number in a circle has magic properties, and that even though most drivers ignore them most of the time, they can at least be prosecuted for something to teach them a lesson. I, on balance, would prefer safer and more friendly roads to having more drivers with more points on their licences continuing as before on our dangerous roads.
Charles, England

Agree (13) | Disagree (5)

It is 24/7.
Peter City of Westminster

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

I am not clear from the article if the limits will apply 24/7 or only during school starting and leaving times.
Robert Bolt St Albans

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)