Pilot plans for 20mph limits announced

By on 11/03/2014 in Cllr Ali, Cllr McKay, News

Proposals for a pilot 20mph speed limit scheme, covering significant parts of central, east and south Birmingham are due before the City Council's Cabinet on March 17.

The 20 is Plenty pilot is designed to demonstrate the road safety and wider benefits of lower speed limits after recent public consultation showed strong support for such measures near schools but mixed backing for a more widespread approach.

Under the proposals, the pilot scheme's footprint has been based on support shown during public consultation and the road safety records of the areas in question.

The whole of the city centre inside the ring road plus all or part of Aston, Nechells, Ladywood, Edgbaston, Harborne, Selly Oak, Bournville, Moseley and Kings Heath, Springfield, Sparkbrook, South Yardley, Bordesley Green, Washwood Heath and Hodge Hill wards would be covered by phase one.

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart City, said: “Research from other places in the UK and overseas show that 20mph limits make roads safer, and help to make walking and cycling more attractive options, leading to less traffic congestion, better health, less noise, more social interaction and stronger communities.

“Better safety for all road users is the inspiration behind our plans, and the other positive spin-offs are a bonus - but we accept that there are still significant numbers of people who remain to be convinced.”

The report to Cabinet on March 17 contains a section addressing common concerns expressed during the consultation, some of which include:

20mph limits would apply on main roads as well as residential roads - It is proposed 20 mph be the speed limit on residential roads in the city; the main A and B roads would keep their current speed limit.  Many people initially opposed to the proposals appeared to change their view once it was explained that this was not the case.

Scepticism on the impact on road safety and accident reduction - Evidence from several towns and cities shows the implementation of 20mph limits reduces the number and severity of road traffic collisions.

• Portsmouth - 20mph limits have lowered casualties in road traffic collisions by a further 8% than may have otherwise occurred;
• Warrington - a reduction in collisions of 25% in 20mph speed limit areas;
• Bristol - reported an increase in walking ranging from between 10% and 36% and for cycling between 4% and 37%; a small but significant reduction in average daytime speeds of between 0.9 mph 1.4 mph; and a reduction in accidents.

20mph limits would increase journey times - The vast majority of the city's traffic travels on the 10 per cent of the road network that will stay at 30 or 40 mph. The parts of any journey affected would only be the relatively short sections on 20 mph roads in order to reach the main road network.

20mph limits would increase congestion - On a clear stretch or road, travelling at 20mph will obviously take longer than travelling at a higher speed. However, research indicates at slower speeds, vehicles flow more smoothly through junctions. As such, within an urban environment, 20mph may help to improve traffic flow. In addition, as a result of reduced acceleration and braking, 20mph may help to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions.

Negative impact on journey times for buses - Most bus services travel along roads that will stay at their current speed limit. It is only at the ends of some routes, where the buses go onto residential roads, where the speed limit might be 20mph. Most buses spend very little time travelling at more than 20mph, particularly in residential areas due to the frequency of stops and the need to carefully negotiate obstacles such as parked cars.  Even on main bus routes a recent study found that less than 25 per cent of the time was spent above 30km/h (18.5 mph). At peak times this proportion is even less.

Negative impact on businesses/deliveries - German evidence is of 12 per cent less fuel use by vehicles where slower limits were implemented as driving became. Rising transport fuel costs affect all energy prices and profit margins. A 12 per cent saving is significant and would help firms to compete, survive and thrive, boosting jobs.

If the concept of a pilot is backed by Cabinet members, a full business case will then be developed for approval in the summer of this year, with implementation then taking place until 2016 before a report on its impact and further proposals for the remainder of the city in 2016/17.

Cllr Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Jobs and Skills, added: “We can keep listing these positive points about improved road safety, but I feel the best way to demonstrate the advantages for traffic mobility is to pilot a wider roll-out across the city.

“Over the coming months we will be drawing up the detailed plan and I look forward to us delivering the improvements from the pilot scheme, as soon as possible.”



Consultation - key findings


The period of public consultation ran from October 21 to November 29 last year.

3,565 people responded to the public consultation using the questionnaire.

In terms of the overall 20mph limit policy, 1,382 (39 per cent) were in favour, with 2,063 (58 per cent) against.

When asked if supportive of 20mph limits near schools, 2,875 (91 per cent) were in favour.

When considering a respondent's travel habits, the most significant variation in terms of support for the proposals was found between those who travel by public transport, walking or bicycle (60 per cent support) against car drivers/passengers (40 per cent support).

Analysis on a Ward by Ward basis showed a clear majority in favour in some areas particularly in areas to the south of the city centre, with opposition in others.


33 stakeholder organisations (not including MPs or councillors) responded to the consultation - 18 were supportive, 6 unsupportive, with others neutral or in favour of limits in certain areas.
Educational establishments were more supportive from the stakeholder responses (5 out of 7, with the other 2 neither in support nor against).

Elected members

20 councillors support the proposals, 3 were against and a further 3 were against in general but supportive of 20mph limits outside schools. 2 councillors expressed neutral views.

3 MPs responded - two were in favour, whilst one was supportive only outside of schools.

For more media information please contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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There Are 7 Brilliant Comments

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  1. oxocube says:

    Would be interested to hear how much this is costing and where the money is coming from, given the ongoing cuts across the council (in areas arguably more important than sticking a few 20 signs up) and the news this week that the NEC is having to be sold in order to settle the equal pay claim.

    • KrisK says:

      Hi there,

      As announced last year at the start of public consultation – the estimated cost is £7m, but the over-riding aim is to improve road safety for everyone. It is also worth noting that the cost of road accidents is estimated at £5m every year in Birmingham (insurance claims, health care, repairs to transport network etc).

      When public consultation starterd, we were also clear the funding would come from the council’s recently-successful bid to the Government’s Cycle City Ambition Grant scheme and other sources already allocated for transport improvements, so will not impact on other services the council provides.

  2. oxocube says:

    Would improving and providing proper cycling infrastructure not be a better use of that funding, rather than simply making driving appear less attractive (though in practice 20mph is wishful thinking in any urban area for much of the day) and hope that will lead to more people cycling?

  3. K Yardley says:

    So 58% of respondents were against the policy but it is going ahead anyway. Some people would call this leadership but all it does is to ferment ill feeling. Politicians wonder why the public aren’t interested in politics and hold the view that “they don’t listen to us”. Remember 58% !
    This is the first I have heard of this proposal so the consultation appears to be very selective and not advertised. Hopefully it will prove unworkable.
    If you want voters to be involved in politics you have to listen to them and 58% seems a lot to me. I hope the 58% remember being ignored in the May elections.

  4. AJRMG says:

    Buses sticking to the speed limit? That’ll be a first! If buses will no longer be able to do 40mph as they do in the existing 30mph limits, journey times will definitely be increased. Also, can’t see anything in the proposals to say how the new limits would be enforced. K Yardley has a point – what was the point of the consultation if the result is ignored? What happened to democracy?

  5. Brian Osborn says:

    Another good reason to change the cities logo from ‘FORWARD’ to ‘BACKWARD’.
    Whatever would the city forefathers have thought? 80 years and still the Outer Ring Road not finished, nuff said!

  6. Roger King says:

    Why don`t the council and the police do something really helpful and enforce the current 30mph limit? If they cannot do this what possible use will an ever lower limit of 20mph be? As I type this yet another car has come down Tessall Lane in Northfield at a warp factor speed. Simply hanging up 20mph speed limit signs will change nothing!!! Question: if we all kept to 30mph how many fatalities would it save? If you want to slow traffic down enforce existing limits not introduce new futile limits that few will take note of.