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"Far more pleasant for walkers and cyclists": 20mph speed limit analysis hailed "astonishing", with drivers' journeys just 45 seconds longer

Transport and public health data analysts have studied the numbers from the first week of Wales' default 20mph speed limit, with one concluding the results are "far greater than would have been predicted"...

Initial analysis of the impact of widespread implementation of 20mph speed limits across Wales last week suggests a "dramatic" change in traffic speeds, with the results hailed "astonishing and far greater than would have been predicted".

Rod King MBE, a campaign director at 20's Plenty for Us told Wales Online he hopes the move will make routes "far more pleasant for walkers and cyclists", his comments coming as a report by transport and public health data analysts Agilysis showed an on average reduction in vehicle speed on new 20mph routes of 2.9mph.

Agilysis' Richard Owen said the results were "astonishing" and showed that Welsh drivers had "on the whole" accepted lower speed limits and "have changed their behaviour accordingly".

"There will remain some drivers who choose to break the limit by significant amounts but the drop in speeds on the fastest urban roads has been marked," he said.

> Retired neurologist says increased weight and acceleration of electric vehicles will lead to rise in cycling-related fatalities unless 20mph speed limits are introduced

Agilysis undertook the research after the implementation of the default urban speed limit on 17 September, and collected GPS data from mapping company TomTom to retrieve and analyse speed data within 24 hours of the change.

Looking at the data anonymously provided, Agilysis studied "a very significant sample and more than sufficient for this type of analysis" across a selection of vehicle types — privately owned cars, vans, plus commercial vehicles.

In total, 491.8km of roads that changed from 30mph to 20mph, were analysed across areas such as Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Wrexham, Rhyl, Merthyr Tydfil, Lampeter, Bangor, Haverfordwest and Newtown. Minor local roads and quiet residential roads were excluded from the analysis as they do not have sufficient sample sizes for the time periods selected.

The headline figure pre-implementation of 20mph speed limits was the average weighted median speed across all the routes was 22.7mph, this dropped to 19.8mph post-implementation.

Wales 20mph research (Agilysis)

[Table: Agilysis]

In Cardiff the average weighted median speed dropped from 22.6mph to 19.7mph, while the biggest drop was seen in Rhyl & Prestatyn and Wrexham where the average speeds dropped from 23.2mph to 19.6mph, a reduction of 3.6mph from before the implementation.

Wales 20mph research (Agilysis)

[Table: Agilysis] 

The report concluded the change in speed had been "dramatic" and suggested that compliance is "very good". By using results from Cardiff and Wrexham, the report suggests that drivers' journey times were, on average, between 45 and 63 seconds longer.

"The analysis period covered the 6am to 6pm period and compliance is expected to be lower outside of these times," it suggested. "Fewer vulnerable road users (cyclists and pedestrians) are likely to use the roads at these times however and the impact on those killed or seriously injured may be lower. Nevertheless, there are opportunities using this approach to review compliance at different times of the day." 

> James May says 20mph is "plenty fast enough", and hopes "change in attitude" can help end road sectarianism

Rod King of 20's Plenty for Us added: "Our experience from so many implementations across the UK tells us that 20mph limits work, and they work particularly well on the faster urban roads.

"They are not a silver bullet, but do reduce speeds to make streets far more pleasant for walkers and cyclists, they lower faster speeds and produce a more consistent flow of traffic. This in turn makes it safer for all road users. A default urban/village 20mph limit is key to liveability and community life whilst at the same time retaining mobility for all. Well done Wales."

The full report can be accessed here...

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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122 comments

Avatar
Steve K | 4 months ago
3 likes

Isn't the real story that the average speed on Welsh roads is above the speed limit?  More evidence of endemic law breaking by drivers.

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chrisonabike replied to Steve K | 4 months ago
1 like

And when you consider normal driving patterns (e.g. more hare rush-stop than tortoise) that means that lots of people will likely spend some time quite a bit above that.

OTOH sadly this is no news to anyone who's been in a vehicle and paid any attention at all.

I just take heart that - remarkably, by just changing numbers on signs* - the average has indeed decreased, by a useful amount and that happened everywhere.

But we have to drive so...

* Though the same effect has been noted e.g. in Edinburgh and elsewhere

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wycombewheeler replied to Steve K | 4 months ago
1 like

Steve K wrote:

Isn't the real story that the average speed on Welsh roads is above the speed limit?  More evidence of endemic law breaking by drivers.

is it? "The headline figure pre-implementation of 20mph speed limits was the average weighted median speed across all the routes was 22.7mph, this dropped to 19.8mph post-implementation."

"Fewer vulnerable road users (cyclists and pedestrians) are likely to use the roads at these times however and the impact on those killed or seriously injured may be lower. Nevertheless, there are opportunities using this approach to review compliance at different times of the day." {/quote]

sorry, what?

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 4 months ago
0 likes

They might be less dead than they could have been!

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OldRidgeback | 4 months ago
2 likes

About 1/2 of my 27km commute by motorbike across South London to (and from again in the afternoon) is now along roads with a 20mph or 30km/h limit, instead of the 30mph or 50km/h limit before. When the new 20mph/30km/h urban speed limits came in, I was curious how much time it would add to the 45 minute trip. And the answer is, about 2mins.

Trundling along at 20mph on a sportsbike did take some relearning, I'll be the first to admit. But looking at my journey time overall, it's almost a non-issue. And for a car driver, I expect the percentage change may be even less as most of the time on a journey will be wasted waiting in queues of traffic at junctions and traffic lights.

In terms of road safety, the lower speed limits make sense. The statistics show a drop in crashes overall as well as a reduction in the severity of crashes/injuries. From the perspective of a driver, motorcyclist and cyclist, the lower limits actually make journeys easier because things don't happen as quickly, so you've more time to react.

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chrisonabike | 4 months ago
1 like

Thread resurrection - new figures show 20mph Wales failure (according to the Nasty Party).

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-68348709

Failed ...because it's made average speeds reduce by 4! MPH! or ONLY made them reduce by 4mph, and anyway it has COST BILLIONS.

Transport spokeswoman Natasha Asghar in article suggesting that they're unwilling to sacrifice any money for lives...

(Sadly other parties - or members thereof - are available for those for whom this chimes with. Indeed most parties. )

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
1 like

chrisonabike wrote:

Thread resurrection - new figures show 20mph Wales failure (according to the Nasty Party). https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-68348709 Failed ...because it's made average speeds reduce by 4! MPH! or ONLY made them reduce by 4mph, and anyway it has COST BILLIONS. Transport spokeswoman Natasha Asghar in article suggesting that they're unwilling to sacrifice any money for lives... (Sadly other parties - or members thereof - are available for those for whom this chimes with. Indeed most parties. )

I thought the implementation cost would be dwarfed by the NHS savings from the lack of KSIs over time.

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wycombewheeler replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
3 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

I thought the implementation cost would be dwarfed by the NHS savings from the lack of KSIs over time.

Only if the schme last long enough before the powers that be capitulate to the tantrums of drivers whose average speed has been reduced by a whole 13%

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
2 likes

Ah - but "over time" - Conservatives MPs are probably only looking a few months ahead now (with dread).  Again - given "election" most parties will be similarly short-term-focussed.  But we're not hugely better than the US in this respect (although their whole government regularly shuts down and staff are not paid because political bickering).

Obviously the problem is not the findings of the monitoring but the fact that it's happened at all.

I'm still trying to find a way to NOT read her quote as "money and an illusory amount of 'convenience' vs. lives*, livelihoods and liveability - obviously we would not be willing to choose the second!"

BBC wrote:

The Welsh Conservatives branded it a "monumental waste of time and resources".

Transport spokeswoman Natasha Asghar added: "To sacrifice billions of pounds from the Welsh economy all for the sake of 4mph may satisfy Labour, but it is not a trade the Welsh Conservatives would be willing to make."

* Sounds over-dramatic but it is "lives" because 20 - 30mph is the range where a small reduction in speed makes a significant difference in survivability for vulnerable road users when hit by a vehicle.  Not to mention giving drivers more time to react in visually busy denser urban environments.

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levestane replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
1 like

... and much less brake and tyre dust, NOx, CO2 etc., and lower fuel/servicing costs.

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David9694 | 9 months ago
0 likes

Residents call for action now on 'death risk' road in Telford

Mr Davies said he thinks the main issue is that when the Eastern Primary was closed for roadworks drivers found Finger Road to be a shorter route. There is also a chicane-style road layout which residents say makes matters worse.

"We need to get the traffic back down the more appropriate route," he said.

He said this may be done with a 20mph speed limit and a modernisation of traffic calming measures, including wider speed bumps.

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/telford/2023/09/28/reside...

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brooksby | 9 months ago
2 likes

How about this:

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/protest-over-20mph-wales...

Quote:

There is set to be disruption on the M4 this weekend as people protest over the new 20mph speed limit in Wales. Around 100 to 300 protesters are set to take part on Saturday (September 30).

The group, who are said to be "car enthusiasts", are expected to block the Prince of Wales Bridge and drive at 20mph towards Cardiff Gate. 

Yes - that's right.  They are so angry about 20mph limits on residential roads in Wales that they are going to drive along the motorway at 20mph... 

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David9694 replied to brooksby | 9 months ago
3 likes

No, no, no this cannot be right, my car simply can't go at 20 mph, it would burn out the clutch, knacker the gearbox and the fuel tank would empty in minutes. 

Now do that speed in a residential area, guys and hey presto!

"This DIY approach by drivers saves us a lot of glue and gaffer tape" said a JSO spokesman. 

PS Has THAT petition now exceeded the number of driving licence holders in Wales? 

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David9694 replied to brooksby | 9 months ago
2 likes

Sounds like this nonsense is on. This has to be in the top 5 of ways to say "I am stupid, selfish and nasty"

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/routes-go-slow-protests-ma...

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Steve K | 9 months ago
1 like

I think we have a winner for a comment from my local "Next Door" discussion on all things War on Motorists.  20mph roads are "too slow and too safe"

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hawkinspeter replied to Steve K | 9 months ago
2 likes

Steve K wrote:

I think we have a winner for a comment from my local "Next Door" discussion on all things War on Motorists.  20mph roads are "too slow and too safe"

I didn't know that Lord Humungus was on Next Door

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Cugel replied to Steve K | 9 months ago
2 likes

Steve K wrote:

I think we have a winner for a comment from my local "Next Door" discussion on all things War on Motorists.  20mph roads are "too slow and too safe"

This is USA mode of "thinking" - "Don't need no steenkin' safety".

Having frequented US woodworking websites and forums for many years, I learnt that the idea of guards, hold-downs, riving knives and other such tablewas devices mandatory in Europe (including Blighty) are regraded by many in the USA as a fundamental interference with their right to cut their own body parts off or get speared by an ejected offcut.

Counts say 67,000 tablesaw injuries per year in the USA with 30,000 of them serious (causing amputations and similar or death). This despite the medical costs in that benighted place!

There's an attitude that suggests freedom is the equivalent of, "Do what you like". This includes anything and everything, even if it does involve injuring others "accidently". We think it's bad here that drivists don't get had-up to a sufficient degree for running other folk over. It's even more lax in the USA.

The thing is, today's speed-at-40-in-the-20-zone eejit could just as easily be a pedestrian victim of a similar fool the next day. Still, why think ahead more than 5 seconds if it hurts the brain and curtails this moment's joyous freedom to press on the accelerator pedal as hard as possible?

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hawkinspeter replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
5 likes

Cugel wrote:

This is USA mode of "thinking" - "Don't need no steenkin' safety".

Having frequented US woodworking websites and forums for many years, I learnt that the idea of guards, hold-downs, riving knives and other such tablewas devices mandatory in Europe (including Blighty) are regraded by many in the USA as a fundamental interference with their right to cut their own body parts off or get speared by an ejected offcut.

Counts say 67,000 tablesaw injuries per year in the USA with 30,000 of them serious (causing amputations and similar or death). This despite the medical costs in that benighted place!

There's an attitude that suggests freedom is the equivalent of, "Do what you like". This includes anything and everything, even if it does involve injuring others "accidently". We think it's bad here that drivists don't get had-up to a sufficient degree for running other folk over. It's even more lax in the USA.

The thing is, today's speed-at-40-in-the-20-zone eejit could just as easily be a pedestrian victim of a similar fool the next day. Still, why think ahead more than 5 seconds if it hurts the brain and curtails this moment's joyous freedom to press on the accelerator pedal as hard as possible?

Well, their system is set up so that some people can make lots of profit from people getting injured and their prison system serves a dual purpose of providing "slave" labour for the businesses that own them and also stopping the incarcerated from being able to vote and in theory change the system.

The more lawless and dangerous the U.S. becomes, the more certain people profit.

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ktache replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
2 likes

Norm always insisted on safety glasses on his New Yankee Workshop, and would always use a pushing stick, even showed how to make one.

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Cugel replied to ktache | 9 months ago
2 likes

ktache wrote:

Norm always insisted on safety glasses on his New Yankee Workshop, and would always use a pushing stick, even showed how to make one.

Noo Yankee Workshop!  That's an ancient bit o' telly now.   1

In Europe, a table saw generally comes with a push stick, so you don't have to make one. It also comes with a riving knife, guard, blade brake and several other safety factors, unlike the awful US unisaw designs as used by Norm.

Mind, even them yankers have tried to update things a bit, with riving knives and guards now included with many US saws. Sadly, many are poory designed, get in the way and so get removed by the owners never to be put back .... as the table saw "accident" figures continue to reveal.

They also invented the SawStop thing - a device that senses flesh touching the spinning blade and drops/stops that blade below the table in micro-seconds. It adds a vast amount to the cost and also has a tendency to go-off when it doesn't need to, costing you a new blade and a new sacrificial braking device as both are destroyed in the process.

Even safety can be used to turn a large profit, see?   1 A well-designed blade guard is very effective, simple and inexpensive .... as well as extensively tested by generations of European woodworkers. 

PS No, there's few uses for a table saw when maintaining your bike - although you could use one to destroy amend one o' them wooden bike frames perhaps.

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Robert Hardy replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
1 like

In the USA table saws seem to be used to do many tasks that might be more likely done with band saws, track saws, cross cut saws and other tools in Europe. Hence their removal of blade guards and riving knives that get in the way.

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OldRidgeback | 9 months ago
4 likes

I commute on two wheels along some very busy arterial roads in South London and have done for many years. What always strikes me is how many cars I filter past on my 26km journey. And it's of note how many of them have just one person inside too. People commuting by car seem to have no understanding of how long they sit waiting in traffic queues. On the few occasions I've had to use my car, either to take or get something from the office, the different in commute time is substantial.

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David9694 | 9 months ago
6 likes

There are many, many driving myths - one is that you have any control over how long your (non motorway) one hour journey is going to take. Brake, accelerate, overtake, take chances at lights, get yourself stressed - it will make no difference time wise. 

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quiff | 9 months ago
2 likes

I hadn't appreciated when commenting in the forum yesterday that this study is only observing speeds on roads where the limit has changed. So what that highlights is that the old 30mph was, in many cases, academic. The change people are actually experiencing is a real terms reduction in average speed from 23 in a 30 to 19 in a 20.     

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Miché27 | 9 months ago
4 likes

If anything the 20mph speed limit seems to be more dangerous for me on my bike, the amount of people that have tried to overtake me and have been sat next to me slowly passing at 20mph, while oncoming traffic is approaching is scary,

If I'm doing 15mph and the cars doing 30mph that's a quick overtake, (ignoring the aggro of drivers) but the same sinario with the car doing 20mph is a slow and dangerous and has cause more aggro off drivers in my case than the previous 30mph,

I've had everything from horns, close passes, swearing at me and people attempting the overtake and moving over too soon because of traffic, pushing me into the pavement, it's horrible and I don't want to go out on my road bike anymore,

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AReadman | 9 months ago
6 likes

On the face of it, for a small sacrifice there looks massive benefits.

Let us hope the reduced number of voy racer accelerations encourages active travel and as importantly reduces pollution.

The other thing go note is that itvwill boost sales of cheap city electric cars.

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Gimpl | 9 months ago
3 likes

Reading Wales Online every day, this has not been popular with a vast swathe of the population. I have never seen as many negative comments in response to the article as I have on this subject.

Most agree that 20 is very appropriate in certain circumstances but not a blanket reduction as has happened in Wales. The current petition against it is over 400,000 signatures so will have to be debated in the Senedd. It could well cost Labour the control over Wales that they've enjoyed for as long as I can remember. 

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Sniffer replied to Gimpl | 9 months ago
5 likes

I suspect the conversation will be very different by 2026.

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60kg lean keen ... replied to Sniffer | 9 months ago
0 likes

Sniffer wrote:

I suspect the conversation will be very different by 2026.

It could all blow over and calm down, people accept the new normal, even notice a positive effect in their communities both in and out of a car (that is what I hope will happen),  Or it could be such a negligible change as average speeds have not changed that much, and the survey was done very soon post induction, when people were being very strict and observant, so the change will become unnoticeable in a real and tangible way.  Also when the speeding tickets start being posted through letter boxes (yes I know people should obey the limit, but people are flawed and don't) they will now blame Labor and Mark D, it is perceived as their policy - their limit. It could be an interesting election in 2026. 

 

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