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Birmingham’s default 20mph plan rejected

Speed Limits

26 June 2020

The DfT has rejected Birmingham City Council’s request to pilot default 20mph limits on urban roads.  

Birmingham has already implemented signed-only 20mph limits in large parts of the city but said a default 20mph limit would “significantly” reduce the implementation costs of further schemes (LTT 23 Nov 18). 

A default 20 would apply to restricted roads – those roads with streetlighting not more than 200 yards (183 metres) apart. These currently have a default 30mph limit. 

Transport minister Baroness Vere wrote to Birmingham’s cabinet member for transport and environment, Waseem Zaffar, this month to rule out the council’s request.  

Vere said no single city could undertake such a trial. 

“It would have to apply nationally, to avoid the confusion engendered if the significance of street lighting differed in different parts of the country.” 

The minister also questioned whether default 20mph limits would be observed. She said  the evidence suggested that “average speeds tend to fall to compliant levels only if previous speeds were already low, around 24mph”. 

“To be effective, such a change would need enforcement and publicity and would put a significant strain on our police forces at a difficult time.”

Vere added: “I think, too, that the implications of such a national change would be very large indeed, both for authorities wishing to retain 30mph limits and those wishing to change to a default 20mph.

“Not only would there be a need to meet the cost of the planning, traffic management and installation of millions of new 20 terminal signs and 30 repeater signs, but traffic authorities would need to amend large numbers of traffic regulation orders.”

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