FAQs 2017-06-16T10:27:42+00:00


Why are 20mph speed limits such a good thing? 2016-03-07T15:50:45+00:00

20mph speed limits encourage more considerate driving, leading to safer streets for all road users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The lower speeds reduce the risk and severity of road collisions. Detailed analysis over 20 years across London found a reduction in risk and severity of casualties in the roads that had switched to 20 mph.

Reducing traffic speed helps make people feel more confident about being on their local streets and enables children and the elderly to travel independently and safely. Calmer road speeds also help to make walking and cycling more attractive options, leading to less traffic congestion, better health, less noise, more social interaction and stronger communities.

When are 20 mph limits planned to be introduced? 2016-03-07T15:50:34+00:00

The rollout of 20 mph speed limits throughout Bristol will begin in January 2014 when the new speed limit is introduced in Central Bristol. The new limit is proposed to be rolled out in a further five phases, subject to consultation.  Some areas of South and East Bristol already have 20 mph speed limits which were introduced as pilots in 2010. These have proved popular with residents: 82% support the 20mph speed limit post-implementation.

What was the decision to introduce the 20mph based on? 2016-03-07T15:50:58+00:00

The Council’s decision to implement the new speed limit citywide was outlined in the 2010 Joint Local Transport Plan. The new limit is proposed to reduce the risk and severity of road collisions in Bristol and reduce the negative impact of anti-social speeding within communities. It is one of a number of measures being introduced to help to improve traffic flow, support sustainable transport and active travel and help to make Bristol a more positive place to live and work.

Slower speeds have also shown to support people to become more active, through increased cycling and walking. The success of the Cycling City and Active Bristol initiatives means that more people in the city are choosing to walk or cycle. The majority of the public agree that encouraging walking (82%) and cycling (55%) for short journeys is a good idea.

Completion of the successful pilot scheme in South and East Bristol illustrated that there is support for the scheme by residents and road users. There was a reduction in day time speeds, an increase in walking and cycling levels and no impact on bus reliability or journey times.

Are all roads affected? 2016-03-07T15:48:10+00:00

No. Roads that are currently 40mph and 50mph or dual carriageways will not be affected. Some other main roads may be excluded. For example, Hotwells Road in the central area will remain 30 mph. Further exclusions will be considered for each phase. Residents will have the opportunity to comment on potential exclusions are part of the Speed Limit Order process. Details for each phase will be posted on the website.

Why are main roads being considered as well as residential roads? 2016-03-07T15:47:02+00:00

60% of collisions happen on the main roads. These are also the roads that are used by the most people and that have the greatest mix of cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles. Residential roads by contrast have drivers typically driving at a slower rate and fewer collisions happen on them because they are used by relatively fewer drivers.

How is it being implemented? 2016-03-07T15:46:15+00:00

There are six proposed phases. This first phase covers Central Bristol and will be introduced in January 2014. You can find out more about the scheme in your area by visiting ‘Where‘.

What about recent news reports of increased casualties on 20 mph roads? 2016-03-07T15:45:38+00:00

Department for Transport figures for Great Britain show that comparing 2011 to 2010, the number of casualties on 30mph streets dropped by about 1,000 and the number on 20 mph streets rose by about 400. This is exactly what you would expect because many 30 roads have been reclassified as 20 mph roads, so the casualties are now reported as 20 mph casualties as opposed to 30 mph casualties. The Department for Transport does not record how many roads are 20 mph, so it is not possible to calculate the rate or the risk.

Data from the DfT shows that deaths on 20mph roads for the whole of Great Britain were 6 in 2010 and 7 in 2011. This was reported on in the Sun newspaper as a 17% rise and evidence that 20 mph ‘is not working’. However, the really worrying fact is that deaths on 30 mph roads in Great Britain had increased from 545 to 612 between 2010 and 2011 but this was not mentioned in the news article. For Bristol, the casualty numbers are small and it is impossible to draw conclusions about the impact on casualty rates in Bristol, without careful analysis of long term trends.

What is certain is that the speed at which vehicles travel is directly linked to the severity of injuries sustained in the event of a collision. A pedestrian, if struck by a vehicle driving at 20mph, is likely to suffer slight injuries. At 30mph they would be severely hurt and at 40mph or above are likely to be killed. Reducing the speed limit to 20mph will have a direct impact on pedestrian safety and is one of the principal reasons for introducing the scheme throughout the city. It is also certain that children living in the most deprived areas are up to 5 times more likely to be killed as a pedestrian than children living in affluent areas. London data (see above) over 20 years has shown that 20 mph limits there were associated with a reduction in risk and severity of casualties.

I don’t think it’s relevant for my street. What can I do? 2016-03-07T15:45:04+00:00

Bristol City Council is holding regular meetings and exhibitions in each of the phases to talk to local residents, business people and drivers about their concerns. You can find out what stage the process is in your area and details of future meetings and exhibitions under the How section or send your concerns to 20mph@bristol.gov.uk where feedback on the scheme is being gathered.

Statutory consultation for each phase will be carried out as part of the Speed Limit Order process. You can find out the date of the consultation in each area and details of how to register your comments by visiting the Where section.

Why was no formal consultation carried out prior to the scheme being agreed? 2016-03-07T15:44:19+00:00

As each phase is proposed we have held, and will continue be hold, a series of meetings and exhibitions that will allow local people to find out more about the introduction of the new speed limit, ask questions, register any concerns or offer their support. You will find a list of forthcoming meetings under the Where section, you will also have the opportunity to register your views via email 20mph@bristol.gov.uk. Statutory consultation for each phase will be carried out as part of the Speed Limit Order process.

You can find out the date of the formal consultation in each area and details of how to register your comments by visiting the How section.

Does that mean that if enough people object the scheme will be scrapped? 2016-03-07T15:43:34+00:00

We are asking people to carefully consider the benefits that the new lower speed limit will offer. We will be listening to people’s concerns and doing all we can to allay any fears they may have about the proposed introduction of the scheme and the impact on their lives or businesses.  However, if there is a very strong case why a certain street should not fall within the scheme then this will be considered on an individual basis by the council.

Are all vehicles affected? 2016-03-07T15:43:04+00:00

If a road has a 20 mph limit on it then this would be the legal speed limit for all motorised vehicles using that road.

How much has it cost? 2016-03-07T15:42:31+00:00

The scheme will cost an estimated £2 million over three years, with funding from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund awarded by the Government in 2012. In terms of future cost savings the average value of prevention of just one less slight and one less serious injury alone is £200,000. There are major potential benefits from increasing walking and cycling levels. The cost of treating ill-health caused by physical inactivity in is estimated at £6.2 million per year.

How will I know when I am in a road with a 20mph speed limit? 2016-03-07T15:41:53+00:00

20 mph road markings and large traffic signs are proposed to be installed at the junctions where the speed limit changes. Smaller ’20’ repeater signs are proposed to be placed at regular intervals on either side of the road. There may also be proposed 20 mph flashing Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) to remind drivers to keep to the new lower speed limit if required.

The proposed 20 mph speed limit would not involve the introduction of any physical traffic calming features such as speed humps.

How will it be enforced? 2017-06-16T10:27:49+00:00

The police have the responsibility to enforce all speed limits. The police have said the 20 mph speed restrictions will be treated in the same way as any other speed limit in the Avon and Somerset Police area in that enforcement will not be routine, but will be intelligence led and where evidence of clear and excessive offending, accompanied by an aggravating factor, the police may consider enforcement where appropriate.

The City Council and Police are working together to ensure that people accept and understand why they are being asked to drive at 20 mph through education and community speed watch. We will also work to reinforce the new proposed lower limit by using Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) which will flash ’20’ when people exceed the speed limit.

New guidance from ACPO has stated that they are now introducing speed awareness courses as a key part of enforcement in these areas for those who breach the limit. Often these drivers are mistaken or require further education on the local limit and therefore the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) are developing a speed awareness course. Avon & Somerset Constabulary have agreed to pilot the 20mph speed awareness course as part of their speed limit enforcement programme.

There will be a package of measures to help manage speeds which include engineering, visible interventions and landscaping standards that respect the needs of all road users and raise the driver’s awareness of their environment, together with education, driver information, training and publicity.

Won’t it make driving round Bristol take longer? 2016-03-07T15:40:31+00:00

Our research suggests that the reduction in speed will not significantly increase journey times. As an example, driving up Gloucester Road at 20mph takes approximately 30 seconds longer at 20 mph than at current traffic speeds in the off peak. Overall our research suggests that there will be an average 10 second increase to journey times per mile in the Central area. In addition, the lower speed limit can encourage drivers to shift to walking or cycling, particularly when the average journey to work is three miles long. This shift can help lead to fewer vehicles on the road and a reduction in congestion and therefore journey time.

What affect will it have on the environment? 2016-03-07T15:39:45+00:00

Studies have so far not conclusively proven either a positive or negative effect on the environment: driving at 20 mph causes some emissions to rise slightly and some to fall. The greatest environmental benefit from the change will come from unlocking the potential for walking or cycling short distances instead of driving. There are 45,000 car trips to work each day in Bristol that are under 3 miles in distance. Adopting a smoother driving style can also achieve lower emissions.

What happens if I break the speed limit? 2016-03-07T15:39:09+00:00

The same thing that happens if you drive over 30mph in a 30mph limit. If traffic police are monitoring the street, you will be caught; we hope that people will understand and appreciate the benefits that driving at a lower speed can offer and so will make a positive decision to stick to the new limit.

Are other areas doing something similar? 2016-03-07T15:38:35+00:00

20 mph speed limits are in force in other areas throughout the UK, benefitting over 8 million people. To date, they are in force in Newcastle, Liverpool, Warrington, Lancashire, Cambridge, York, Portsmouth, Oxford, the London Boroughs of Southwark, Islington, Camden, Hackney and Waltham Forest, Lewes, Wigan, Bishopbrigg, Sheffield, Middlesborough, Bath, Darlington, Norwich, Leicester, Chichester, Glasgow, Colchester, Edinburgh, Bodmin, Limpley Stoke, Brighton and the Wirral.

Do they work? 2016-03-07T15:38:02+00:00

National evidence has shown that sign-only 20 mph speed limits can help to reduce average speeds and improve safety. Evidence from our pilot scheme showed that they increased the number of people walking and cycling, decreased the average speed of vehicles and did not change journey times or the reliability of buses. 82% of those living in the areas of the pilot schemes in Bristol support 20 mph. There are examples in European cities where the speed limit of 30 kph (18 mph) has been implemented and people stick to it. These cities experiences are that once the change happens then the positive impacts mean that people do not want to go back to higher speeds which has been seen in the Bristol pilot areas.

You mention schemes in other parts of the country but evidence shows that they haven’t been successful in reducing speed limits – what will you do differently? 2016-03-07T15:37:17+00:00

We are aware of some of the issues that other cities have faced. To build on their experience and make sure that Bristol’s scheme is the most effective possible, Bristol City Council, in conjunction with NHS Bristol, commissioned the Bristol Social Marketing Centre at the University of the West of England to carry out a study looking at the best way to make this change in order to achieve the highest success rate.

We are using the recommendations of their report to help inform the roll out of the schemes. The success of the pilot schemes and the positive feedback we received from local residents confirms that the vast majority of Bristol residents wish to see calmer speeds on their high streets and residential roads. The main concern that people express is that they don’t think other people will stick to it. It took 12 years of the ‘Clunk Click Every Trip’ campaign before front seat belts became legally compulsory in 1983. It took five years to build public support for smoke-free workplaces and public places. It is likely to take time before calm speeds become normal for Bristol but it will happen.

Will it be permanent? 2016-03-07T15:36:36+00:00

It is intended that the new speed limit will be permanent and thorough monitoring will be carried out.

Does 20 mph also apply to cyclists? 2016-03-07T15:35:58+00:00

People on bikes can be prosecuted for dangerous cycling if they are caught going over the speed limit.

Won’t it make driving harder? 2017-06-16T10:27:49+00:00

This will be a change and it will take some conscious decision making as a driver to make a difference. The change can be compared to anti-drink driving campaigns and Clunk, Click, the seatbelt campaign: over time it has become unacceptable to drive while drunk and it is now second nature to put a seatbelt on to drive. It will take some time to become second nature.

In reality we are rarely driving at a consistent speed, particularly in a city where we are constantly accelerating, decelerating and braking to respond to current traffic speeds, traffic lights or junctions.

What has the reaction been to those areas involved in the pilot scheme? 2016-03-07T15:34:45+00:00

The reaction from residents where a 20 mph speed limit is in place has been overwhelmingly in favour. 82% are in favour of 20 mph; these areas have also seen an increase in walking and cycling, a decrease in average road speeds and unaffected bus journey times and reliability.

How can you be sure it is working? 2016-03-07T15:34:06+00:00

Reducing the speed limit should have a beneficial effect on local communities. We are monitoring: • Traffic speeds • Traffic volumes • Road casualties • Walking and cycling levels • Before and after attitudes

Why are you targeting motorists? 2016-03-07T15:33:19+00:00

20 mph creates a safer environment for everyone, including motorists. It will not significantly increase journey times and by easing traffic flow, may actually reduce some journey times.

We are not stopping people from driving, but are trying to balance the needs of drivers with the safety and environment of local residents.

Who do I contact if I want to know more? 2016-03-07T15:32:48+00:00

You can email: 20mph@bristol.gov.uk or phone 0117 9036449

Why is it taking so long to introduce? 2016-03-07T15:32:02+00:00

Introducing a scheme of this size takes a large amount of planning. We began by trialling the scheme in our pilot areas in South and East Bristol. Following the success in those areas, in July 2012 it was agreed to propose that the lower speed limit would be rolled out city wide. Work on the planning began immediately and the proposed roll out is proposed to be completed by March 2015.

Why can’t it be rolled out more quickly? 2016-03-07T15:31:33+00:00

This proposed change for the city is large and so we need to ensure that we are communicating the proposed change properly. There are also a number of official processes to go through in order to legally change a speed limit. This includes the Speed Limit Order (SLO) process. This is an important part of the process and will enable members of the public to have their say on the proposed scheme.

Will the driving test be altered to reflect the value of driving at 20 mph? 2016-03-07T15:30:59+00:00

We are liaising with local driving schools and the Institute of Advanced Motorists to ensure that they are aware of the proposed change in the speed limit across the city.

We anticipate that, as is the case now, people learning to drive and then taking their test in Bristol will be expected to comply with the speed limit on the roads on which they are driving.

Why are some 30 mph roads being excluded? I think it should be a blanket 20 mph limit across the city 2016-03-07T15:30:28+00:00

It is proposed that the 20 mph speed limit will apply to many roads. However, we are also aware that the layout of some of the main routes in to and out of the city are more suited to a slightly faster speed; they may be wider, be less residential or have less local shops and businesses based along them for instance.

Those are the roads which may remain at 30 mph. Members of the public will have the opportunity to have their say on each proposed phase as part of the formal consultation forming part of the Speed Limit Order process.