Second city switches to 20 mph in Green safer streets campaign

3 October 2008


News from the Green Party |
3 October 2008


The Green Party’s national campaign to cut road deaths and injuries in towns and cities celebrated another victory yesterday when Green Councillors in Leicester gained the agreement of the City Council to bring in a default 20 mph speed limit.

The Green Party motion, which introduces a 20 mph limit on all unclassified roads, means safer speeds on all roads in Leicester except major roads. It passed with the support of Labour and Conservative councillors, but was opposed by the Liberal Democrats.

Bringing in 20 mph zones in towns and cities is a key priority for the Green Party, and the new policy for Leicester follows similar success for Greens in Norwich, where plans are underway to introduce a blanket 20 mph limit over the next two years following a vote in May.  

Green Councillor Matt Follett, who proposed the Leicester motion alongside colleague Phil Gordon, said:

“If anybody doubted the value of having Green Councillors, this dispels them. Through careful persuasion of the other parties, just two Greens have succeeded in bringing in this important measure that will benefit everyone in Leicester.

“The new 20 mph speed limits will have a positive impact on people using alternatives to the car, on the health of young people and, of course, on the level of pedestrian casualties in the city.”

Adrian Ramsay, Deputy Leader of the Green Party and Leader of the official opposition Green Party Group on Norwich City Council, said of the Leicester decision:

“Councillors Follett and Gordon have to be congratulated on pushing this measure through so rapidly. Their success is another victory in the Green Party’s ongoing campaign for lower speeds and safer streets.

“Greens across the UK are campaigning for 20 mph to be the default limit in built-up areas and Green Councillors putting forward these proposals to many local authorities.

“With a default 20 mph speed limit, it can often be the case that fewer road humps are needed than with limited ‘home zones’, and it is easier to communicate the message that 20mph is the appropriate speed on residential roads where children and people of all ages need to be able to walk about safely.

“Lower speed limits don’t just create safer streets for everyone, they also mean better air quality and lower carbon emissions as they make it easier and safer to walk and cycle."



The full text of the motion reads:

Motion to council
Council notes the just published Department of Transport figures showing  that pedestrian casualties are much higher for areas with high levels of deprivation, many of which are urban areas with low levels of car ownership.

Council notes that the new statistics, analysed by deprivation score, show that the number of pedestrians killed or injured on the roads rises from 21 casualties per 100,000 people in the least deprived areas to 70 casualties per 100,000 people in the most deprived areas – more than a threefold increase for the poorest neighbourhoods.

Council notes that The World Health Organisation (1) has provided scientific evidence that the chances of pedestrian fatality are massively increased once you are above 20 mph.

Council further notes that the following points of evidence were given to the  House of Commons Transport Select Committee inquiry on road safety in May 2008:

That  the city of Graz in Austria adopted a general system-wide 30kph (18.75 mph) speed limit for all roads in residential areas in 1992, and that this has been very successful in reducing death and serious injury and creating excellent conditions for cycling and walking.

That Cities in mainland Europe with system-wide 20mph speed limits have a bicycle share of all trips around 25-30% compared to 2-3% in British cities (excluding London), and so such an action would also help Leicester achieve its aims regarding increasing cycling and walking, with the additional health benefits that would follow.

Council recognises that  death and injury on the road infects us all with a degree of fear and nervousness which blights lives.  It is repeatedly quoted as a reason why those questioned do not walk or cycle.  For reasons for safety, health, and environmental benefit, such an approach should be tried .

Council resolves to begin , either immediately, or at the end of the financial year, a phased scheme of 20mph limit across unclassified residential roads in the city, with a review after each phase  to examine the impact on road safety.

Council notes that the Transport Select Committee is expected to issue its report on road safety by the end of this month. Council therefore further resolves to inform the Chair of the Committee of its decision as a matter of urgency, to give the Committee the opportunity to highlight Leicester as an example of good practice in their report and thus to encourage other authorities to follow our lead.

(1) Page 78 of WHO report “World Report on Road traffic Injury Prevention”

Proposed by Cllr Matt Follett – green group leader


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