How to persuade your council to update its 20MPH policy

This posting from the national website

If your council’s policy doesn’t yet support wide area 20mph signed limits, then an update to align it with public health best practice is needed. How? Tactics include calling for a best practice update to the Cabinet Member for Transport, Leader, Director of Public Health, scrutiny or in manifestos.

20’s Plenty say first collect petition names for wide area, signed 20mph limits to demonstrate community support. Online and paper petitions can combine.  Petitions go to council meetings.  Officers then advise elected councillors based on existing written policy.  Campaigners who face officers quoting an antiquated 20mph policy have little to gain arguing with them. Go higher. Ask elected politicians to modernise the policy to fit with World Health Organisation, Public Health England, NICE and, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health best practice

Justify it based on what’s changed since policy was written – eg speed limiters will be fitted to all new cars from 2022. This enforces limits in car largely making engineering unnecessary. Make your calls in this campaigning order:Ask the:

  1. Transport cabinet member for wide area 20mph – they control transport spending locally. Yes – job done
  2. Council leader – who decides on cabinet member posts and so has ultimate power over all decisions. Yes – job done. They can overrule or reshuffle a cabinet member who doesn’t agree with them. The cabinet member will probably change their mind and agree rather than go against their direct boss’s wishes.
  3. (unelected) Director of Public Health – who has a ring fenced budget for health improvement and can offer funds to the transport cabinet member to jointly do 20mph. Collaborative funding can nudge the cabinet member into at least doing a PH funded pilot of 20mph (we’d prefer wide area commitment, but it’s a start).
  4. Scrutiny to agree a 20mph scrutiny topic. Back bench councillors without budget power can research (a few topics a year). Campaigners are wise to lobby a supportive councillor on that committee to submit the topic and email/ring everyone with a vote to choose 20mph to research. Note that scrutiny recommendations can be overruled by the cabinet though! Our oven ready scrutiny brief is
  5. Manifesto suggestion committee for the ruling party (or any party likely to share power locally). Being a party member admits you to meetings. Submit to your local branch a motion supporting wide area 20mph limits eg this party supports wide area 20mph limits. Take it to a vote to submit it as a policy suggestion to the party central decision making meeting for manifesto promises. The phase of the electoral cycle matters here. This tactic wins a mandate for change if elections are approaching and that party wins enough seats.

To discuss tactics on how to update policy please email or ring 07572 120439. Anna’s a former City of York Councillor and Transport Scrutiny chair.

Why not attend, or ask councillors to come to our national conference on 31st Oct to update their knowledge too? We have international, national and local speakers. See

Anna Semlyen, 20’s Plenty for Us National Campaign Manager says :-

“Believe you can make powerful people listen to calls for an urgent 20mph policy update. Together we can make change happen. It’s only by standing up for 20mph limits that they get on political agendas.  Political activism works.”

DFT 20MPH Evaluation Conclusions

As a result of the recent 20mph Research Studies commissioned by Atkins for the DOT the national campaign group have issued the following responses.

Initial response – the press release is below.

The full conclusions are available here from the national website


Today the government published its long-awaited report evaluating 20mph limit implementations. We welcome the report. It has been a long time coming since 2014 when it was commissioned.

And in that time there have been nearly half a million casualties on streets with a 30mph limit.

The report only evaluated a small number of case studies which in themselves only covered part of an authority. There are some useful indicators in the report, particularly around the negative aspects of police failing to routinely enforce 20mph limits and the need for national engagement and awareness on the benefits of reducing speeds below 30mph in residential and other roads.

However, we have major reservations about the primary data used in the report around speed reductions and the complete failure of the study to look at sufficient casualty figures to be able to draw any conclusions that would be statistically credible. These were key reasons for the commissioning of the report and we are amazed at the choice of data measured which appears to be based on measuring what is available rather than what is meaningful.

The report also fails to address any issues on the cost effectiveness of wide-area 20mph limits in comparison with the traditional physically calmed limits which are often isolated and small in length due to costs.

We believe that the report fails to provide informed and credible answers to the questions posed by local traffic authorities and does not strengthen the evidence base regarding the effectiveness, either positively or negatively, of 20mph limits.

We will be developing a full critique of the report.

Download the headline report or the technical report.

The report showed that police enforcement, or lack of it, was a key driver in compliance levels but the report did not look at how these varied amongst the case studies chosen. Our experience shows us that the key factors in successful speed reduction and outcomes are :-

Whether an implementation is authority-wide.
The level of cross party political support.
The level of multi-agency support
The level of and commitment to police enforcement.
The the level of community consensus change engagement.
We would have preferred evaluation comparing these across case studies to understand the relative influence of such factors.

We also note that the choice and aggregation of speed data may well have blurred the results. GPS speed readings were said to be just 3% of actual vehicle movements and may well be biased due to only being measured on TomTom devices with GPRS feedback or on software update. In addition static sites measurements tend to be at free-flowing positions. We also note that report moved away from the usual average or mean speeds and instead used median speeds which the authors note “helps to dampen the impact of slower moving vehicles”. One has to ask if a report into the effectiveness of interventions to slow vehicles should be based on data which itself “dampens the impact of slow moving vehicles”.

Some key messages were that the lack of enforcement increases non-compliance and needs to be enhanced. Independent Speed Adaptation on “works vehicles” could also condition this. And both of these work so much better when the correct limit of 20mph (as endorsed by WHO, OECD, ETSC, etc) is set for where vehicles mix with pedestrians and cyclists. In addition a national media engagement that “20 is plenty where people are” would consolidate the developing consensus that the report shows exists.

You can also access our Briefing Sheet which includes the Lessons and considerations for national and local decision-makers.

NICE recommends urban speed reduction for better air quality.


NICE recommends urban speed reduction for better air quality. NICE guidance says 20mph limits without physical measures in urban areas help “avoid unnecessary acceleration and deceleration”.

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, reviews evidence on health policies. It has published guidance on Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health in June 2017[1] which strongly supports 20mph limits for smooth driving and speed reduction.  It advises authorities to set

20 mph limits without physical measures to reduce speeds in urban areas where average speeds are already low (below around 24 mph) to avoid unnecessary accelerations and decelerations”

Many authorities have additionally set 20mph speeds on roads with higher than 24mph average speeds for consistency of limits across a community.

20mph limits are increasingly recognised as an affordable tool to tackle air quality action areas. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hammersmith and Fulham and others have justified their wide area 20mph limits both on health grounds from fewer casualties, and due to reduced acceleration and encouraging modal shift away from car use towards non-polluting methods like walking and cycling – which all improve air quality.

NICE further states

“Where physical speed reduction measures are used to reduce road danger and injuries (20 mph zones – see NICE’s guideline on unintentional injuries on the road), consider using them to encourage drivers to maintain a reduced, steady pace along the whole stretch of road, rather than road humps that may increase acceleration- and braking-related emissions”

Rod King MBE, Founder of 20’s Plenty for Us said:

“Many authorities recognise that 20mph helps them to both meet their air quality as well as ‘duty of care’ responsibilities to the vulnerable[2]. In fact switching to a 20mph limit makes a significant reduction in the most dangerous NOx and PM10 emissions[3]. It is entirely appropriate for NICE to make this recommendation to direct local authorities in their statutory duty to improve air quality and public health.

20s Plenty For Sheffield Attend 2017 Annual Conference in Birmingham.

Well, Brum was a pleasant visit – posh and literally shiny new ‘New St’ station with ‘Grand Central’ shopping mall at surface level, some great old buildings and pubs (Wellington on Bennets Hill near station v good real ale pub), the fabulous Canal network around Gas Street Basin, and increasingly they are reclaiming public realm from the old ‘car is king’ days, making car free areas around Town Hall and like Coventry have made the City Centre inside the ring road 20mph.


Paul Butcher – Dir Public Health Calderdale:

Under the ‘Active Calderdale’ logo Paul updated us on progress since the 2014 decision to 20ize residential streets, with strong leadership and finance from their Health Team.


Also put effort into interim evaluation post 20 implementation:

  • Survey data – 240 responses
  • High level support for the scheme post-implementation (80% in support; 11% opposing).
  • The vast majority of residents feel that 20mph is an appropriate speed for their street
  • The main perceived advantages are around safety, particularly for residents and pedestrians.
  • There has been a significant increase in “aggressive driving” as a perceived disadvantage post-implementation (eg Tailgating)
  • Significant increase in cycling every day amongst those who already owned or had use of a bike
  • No change in walking patterns


Andrea Lee – Client Earth (CE):

This is the org who have been taking the UK Govt to court over breaching the 2008 ambient air quality directive (2008/50/EC) which sets legally binding limits for concentrations in outdoor air of major air pollutants that impact public health such as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). See for brief summary.


Diesel issue = even latest euro 6 engines produce 7 times more NOx in real world driving than manufacturers claim. (and 10x more than petrol)


Currently Central Govt have offloaded their failed targets (In 2015 still 37 out of 43 zones failing) to Local Authorities, who are supposed to have draft plans to meet target reductions in place by 24.04.2017/final by 31.07.2017.

CE trying to promote a wider, more comprehensive network of Clean Air Zones: Currently the national air quality plan for nitrogen dioxide sets out what the Government will be requiring, and initially the implementation of Clean Air Zones in five cities. These cities are Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.

The national air quality plan set out the Clean Air Zones in these cities will cover older buses, coaches, taxis and lorries. Birmingham and Leeds will also discourage old polluting diesel vans and implement other measures. Newer vehicles that meet the latest emissions standards will not need to pay and, under the Plan, Government is not requiring any of these five cities to implement a charging Clean Air Zone that includes private cars, motorcycles or mopeds.

CE want this policy to be upped:

– Mandatory for most zones currently in breach

– Include all major emission sources incl cars.

– Implemented as soon as possible e.g. 2018

– Address Euro 6 v Real Driving Emissions.

– Be a focal point for complementary measures e.g. retrofit, scrappage.

– Intro “clean car” label.

– More effort to improve public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure to enable Modal Shift.

Re 20mph and pollution: CE say their ‘Jury still out’, however my own experience is that steady speed driving means less fuel and less braking, so on roads where 20 has that effect  must be polluting less!

NB: Increasing amounts of road wear particles have been found in new research from King’s College London. Scientists tracked air pollution alongside 65 roads for ten years. The researchers found some roads where the air pollution benefits from improvements in diesel exhausts were outweighed by increases in particles that come from the wear of tyres, brakes, clutches and the road.

These particles, rich in transition metals, add to the toxicity of our urban air. There are no policies to control these emissions. Stopping from 30mph emits around twice the amount of brake particles compared with stopping from 20mph, so lower urban speed limits could help, as could reducing traffic volumes – especially by better management of goods moved by road.

(So e-cars may not be quite the silver bullet!)

Personally I like the idea of trying to come up with some way of getting a simple message across that the Brake pedal= The pollution Pedal! (The less we accelerate into the position of needing to routinely use the brake/use it strongly  we have, de facto, used less energy to get to that point, so used less fuel and created fewer gases and then fewer particles of every kind braking!)

Gary Rae – Brake’s Dir Comms and Campaigns:

Aiming for National 20 limit in all built up/urban areas, which space they see as shared space, with no primary user, and a space which needs to be Safe/Sustainable/Fair/Healthy for all road users.

(I like Rods notion of checking out the relative numbers of users in a given street space/time, and considering whether the design/resources put into the transport structure of that street proportionately reflects the users needs….)

See for good list of 20mph campaign material.




Ray O’Connor – Dublin Council – Setting and managing Speeds:

Having run 2 area 20s for some years, Dublin are going for a bigger ‘Inside the Ring Road’ type area this year.

Presentation notable for the degree of Consultation with residents, incl doing a journey time experiment (time cost of 20mph = 60secs over 2.5kms!)

High level of approval for lower speeds. Cars speeding and risk to children were the two greatest concerns people had around speed limits.


Unfortunately ran out of time so unable to hear more on Lessons Learnt etc.


Simon Bradbury – Transport for London ‘Vision Zero’ (VZ):

VZ = ‘Reducing the dominance of motor vehicles and their danger to vulnerable road users, prioritizing safety over all else in Transport planning.’

Biggest fall in KSI’s 2000 – 2015 = Car occupants! – so pedestrian/cycle/mcycle = proportionate rise.

Tackle rising Health costs by designing Active Travel in to transport policies/designs.

We need a ‘safer feel’ to encourage us out of vehicles.

Trialling 20mph on bigger/main roads.

Concept of vehicles having ‘smart’ speed limiters (yes please!)


Cllr Stewart Stacey – Brum Cabinet member for Transport and Roads:

‘Birmingham Connected’ strategy in partnership with police, aiming for 20mph over 90% of city.

Cycling (3% at moment! – Manchester 2, Sheffield 1!) – aiming for 5% 2023, 10% 2033, prioritizing routes within 20min ride of centre, making ‘Parallel routes’ to main roads (rather than convoluted back streets)

Promote comm involvement in 20mph complance – incl with businesses (20mph reward coffee van!)

‘Modeshift Star’ travel plan and accreditation scheme – worth a look.


Chief Inspector Jared White – West Midlands police:

This is the force that has recently become famous/infamous for its blogging

Traffic police and its initiatives on drivers passing too close to cyclists and on speeding drivers! (Eg School childrens Court)

Supports 20mph, active in partnership with Council/Education in the Road Safety Partnership.

Brought a simulator to the Conference venue for the day for the public:



Jane Robinson – Project Manager Dft:

Presented ongoing Dft survey using anonymised GPS (TomTom etc) data to analyse effectiveness of sign only 20mph in 8 large 20 areas, 2 self-contained residential areas, and 2 city centres.

  • To evaluate the effectiveness of 20mph speed limits, in a range of settings.
  • To examine drivers’ and residents’ perceptions of 20mph limits.
  • To assess the relative costs/benefits to vulnerable groups e.g. children, cyclists, the elderly.
  • To evaluate the processes and factors which contribute to the level of effectiveness of 20mph speed limit schemes.


So far their work shows speed reductions are small (1 – 2mph) in a UK context of overall reducing speeds (!) – and notes that drivers seem to go slower on roads that ‘feel’ or look like slower roads …..


Manpreet Daroch – WHO/Youth for Road Safety:

1.24m killed pa on roads (270.000 of which are pedestrians) Disproportionately more in poorer areas. Biggest killer 15-29 yr olds.

Aim = 50% reduction by 2020

2017 campaign: ‘Save Lives#Slow Down’

4th UN Road safety week 8 – 14 may2017. To incl a Slow Down Day.

20s plenty working in collaboration with UN to produce a Toolkit to complement the week shortly.


Rod King, Founder 20s plenty: ’20sPlenty for villages’

Notes that our non-urban population (10.3m of us) is one with increasing numbers of children and older people.

The antipathy of high vehicle speeds here means:

– Elderly lose independent mobility

– Children lose independent mobility

– Social cohesion reduce in faster streets

– More isolation of community for non-drivers

– Creates structural inequality between have cars and have nots.


Anna Semlyen – 20sPlenty:

A big barrier to Local authorities implementing wide 20mph limits has been cost.


April 2016 Dept for Transport Signs Regulations update, so fewer needed, so with up to 77% fewer capital items costs fall dramatically, and with minimal signage, overall scheme costs fall by about 40%.


Geoff Collins – – Average Speed Camera Enforcement

In use at 100 sites – incl 4 20mph.


– High compliance

– Feels fairer – fewer fines than static

– Consistent speeds over bigger distances

– Less braking/acceleration so less fuel use/pollution

– Fewer collisions. (36% reduction KSI’s)

– This conveyor belt efficiency means higher volumes of traffic can pass through a scheme without flow breakdown occurring.

– Good journey reliability.

New generation cameras can be mounted on existing street furniture, and function in both directions.


Gets my vote!


Apologies for any innacuracies.


Richard Attwood


Report from Crosspool Forum – 20mph

This report sent to us by Eamonn Ward – Sheffield Green Party .  This is his personal take on the meeting .

Note that 20’s plenty for Sheffield has no political affiliation but we are happy to post comments from local political parties when they are pertinent.

George Lindars-Hammond, Deputy to the Cabinet member responsible, spoke at Crosspool Forum last week. Selborne Rd scores about 18th or 19th on the citywide points table based on accidents, injuries and deaths in the last 5 years. It needs to be at least top 10 to get into schemes for the next round of annual funding. George said he would like to get this area looked at separately because of the circumstances but did so knowing that year on year funding cuts make this very unlikely.

The official Forum minutes follow. Note that the 20mph commitment is not backed by the current funding availability to make it happen.  shame because citywide schemes like that in Portsmouth are hugely more cost and awareness effective with everyone knowing that it’s 20mph on all residential streets. 20mph zones are being prioritised around school entrances in Sheffield rather than in the general area where children walk to and from school. So that reasoned argument from Cllr Murphy is not likely to lead to anything.

The petitioners were thanked in the meeting. It’s disappointing but, as outlined in a previous post by me, there are hundreds of road safety schemes needed across the city chasing an ever shrinking pot as councils budgets are cut massively year on year.


1/ Selborne Road accident July; George Linders-Hammond from Sheffield CC Highways said they now had a very limited budget (£2m p.a. – once £5m) and speed bumps are very expensive to install. This street did not score highly from past data of accidents, but the Council is committed to making such streets 20mph zones in the next 4-5 years. Cllr Murphy wanted to ensure this is prioritized, as Crosspool has a very high number of children using the streets.

Eamonn Ward  Sheffield Green Party