20mph Speed Limits in Wales Face Reversal After Criticism

Welsh gov't reverses 20mph speed limit policy, allowing councils to raise limits to 30mph, sparking debate on road safety, public health, and economic impact.

Safak Costu
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20mph Speed Limits in Wales Face Reversal After Criticism

20mph Speed Limits in Wales Face Reversal After Criticism

The Welsh government has announced that the blanket 20mph speed limits introduced across Wales in September 2022 will be dropped by September 2023. The new Labour transport secretary, Ken Skates, stated that local councils can start raising the limits back to 30mph within the next six months.

The policy, introduced by the previous transport minister Lee Waters, faced significant criticism and opposition, including an official petition with over 450,000 signatures against the plans. Motoring organizations welcomed the government's reversal, arguing that the broad-brush approach was ineffective and that targeted 20mph limits would be more appropriate.

Campaign groups, such as 20 is Plenty and the Wales future generations commissioner, had urged the government not to compromise on the core principles of the 20mph speed limit in residential areas. They highlighted the benefits of slower speeds, including safer and more walkable communities, reduced road traffic collisions, and positive impacts on public health and the economy.

Anna Semlyen, a campaigner for 20 is Plenty, compared the impact of car collisions at 30mph and 20mph to falling from the third floor and first floor, respectively, emphasizing the significant difference in severity. Professor Charles Musselwhite also stated that there was no need for a dramatic change to the default 20mph limit, as slower speeds are better for people's health and communities.

However, the government estimates that the 20mph policy would create a negative impact on the Welsh economy of about £4.5 billion over the next 30 years. Transport secretary Ken Skates acknowledged the criticism and decided to allow local councils to revert to 30mph limits where appropriate.

Why this matters: The reversal of the 20mph speed limit policy in Wales highlights the ongoing debate between road safety, public health, and economic considerations. The decision will have significant implications for communities across Wales, affecting the safety and walkability of residential areas.

While campaign groups expressed disappointment at the government's reversal, motoring organizations welcomed the decision, stating that targeted 20mph limits would be more effective than a blanket approach. The future generations commissioner, Derek Walker, warned against compromising on the principle of the change, describing it as a courageous step towards safer and more walkable streets in Wales.

Key Takeaways

  • Welsh govt to drop 20mph limits by Sept 2023, allow 30mph return
  • Policy faced criticism, 450k+ petition; motoring groups welcomed reversal
  • Campaign groups urged govt not to compromise on 20mph in residential areas
  • Govt estimates 20mph policy would negatively impact Welsh economy by £4.5B
  • Debate continues over road safety, public health, and economic considerations