20mph speed limit rollout by Lewisham Council (effective September 2016)


Also I love the blog author’s title “20mph zones are not causing more deaths” - which seems a very black and white conclusion to reach from a complaint that the Bath study is inconclusive. :roll_eyes:


yes fair point - comparable indeed to the motorist lobby fodder Telegraph headline misleading a national audience by drawing an entirely spurious conclusion from this rather flawed local study to support what it wants to be true!
‘Safer’ 20mph zones led to rise in number of road deaths’.

Let’s imagine though that 20 mph really is causing higher KSI’s and the limit needs to go up. Accident rates might plummet if we went to 50mph. Worth a go? at least most people would now drive inside the limit. Don’t think you’d see too many pedestrians and cyclists around - so it would keep them much safer too.


I think it’s probably best to just reset it to a safe 30mph, consistent to the urban speed that all drivers are taught in their driving lessons.

Drivers should observe what’s in front of their windshield and drive at a speed appropriate to the road (as pointed out by the Association of Police Chiefs when they explained why they see enforcing the council’s arbitrary 20mph zones as “inappropriate”).

Safe for the road might be 30mph. It might be 20mph. In some cases it is 15mph. Point is, the driver should not be infantilised. They should be responsible for decisions they make. They should be looking out for cyclists and pedestrians. As opposed to looking out for cameras and speed bumps, and fixating on their speedometer.

The £1.5M spent by the council on impotent signage could have been allocated to the police to help them catch dangerous drivers. It’s a shame that this didn’t happen. But it’s all a learning experience for councils over the country as they evaluate the success and multiple failures of 20mph zoning.


oh well, I do not expect we will agree on this but it’s been quite fun.
the 30mph limit is just as arbitrary as the 20mph one. Set many years ago when city traffic density was a fraction of it’s current level and population too. Behavioural change and retraining in drivers is possible - or perhaps too many drivers are generally too selfish or obstinate to change. Driving lessons teach us to drive safely within the speed limit. Don’t see how we can truly trust drivers to make their own responsible decisions when we see how people drive around here.

It would be very disappointing if lowering the limit does not affect accident rates , but even if it does not, it makes sharing the residential environment with motorists much more tolerable for those who are not driving.


When non-drivers attempt to impose punitive measures on drivers regardless of negative outcomes, I’d argue that the non-drivers are being selfish and obstinate.

It doesn’t matter if you trust them or not.

It doesn’t matter how many signs you put up.

Bad drivers will be bad drivers regardless of what new speed limit is dreamt up by bright sparks in the council and lobby groups.

You fix dangerous road activity (of which speeding is just one) by a visible police presence. Not by ineffective passive-aggressive measures akin to this:



So are you saying there should be no speed limits? No road laws at all? Why does having a 20 mph limit infantilise drivers when a 30 mph one doesn’t? Do traffic lights also do this - After all I am grown up enough to know when it is safe to cycle or drive through a red light!

So you have supporting evidence to prove that all these measures are put in place by non drivers? Be nice to see it.

Policing is hugely expensive and you keep mentioning that we, as a society, have no money - perhaps if drivers could self police a bit more effectively then we wouldn’t need to keep spending money on yet more policing. You even seem to want to spend even more money to change the speed limits back to what they were.

Me I just drive a bit slower or I get on a bike and go as fast or slow as I want. Can’t see much of an issue.


Nope, as I said, the limit should be reset to 30mph. That way, drivers will take it more seriously, and the police will be more willing to enforce it.

It’s evident from comments above that the measures are generally supported by non-drivers and not drivers. It seems pretty likely that the lobby groups for 20mph limits represent non-drivers but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

£1.5M of our earnings was spent on the 20mph zones. I’d simply rather that money had been allocated to the police.

If the pattern observed in Portsmouth, Manchester and Bath holds true countrywide, the £1.5M has not just been wasted but has actually harmed safety outcomes. I’m sure none of us would want that, and if we found our assumptions about 20mph zoning were proved wrong, we’d have the humility to admit it.

Policy-making shouldn’t be ideological.


So you happy for more money to be spend on reverting the limit and you didn’t answer the question on why 20 mph is infantile while 30 is not.

Well you made the original assumption so it is not up to anyone to prove you wrong - it is up to you to prove your assertion or at least provide some evidence rather then speculation.

The data seems incredibly marginal at present and I would be hesitant to make any firm conclusions either way. The Bath figures need much more careful reading but the reporting of them seems to be somewhat tenuous.


I’m sad for any more money to be spent on this saga, but hopefully it’s far cheaper to remove signs and bin them than it is to manufacture and fit them.

In practise, the council didn’t really have £1.5M to spend on the scheme in the first place, and it certainly doesn’t have any more money to remove the scheme now.

I’d happily lend a hand if they wanted help removing the signs. I’m sure a lot of drivers would…

Hopefully other boroughs that still enjoy the standard 30mph limit will observe the mistakes of 20mph limits elsewhere, and less public money will be wasted in future.

In Manchester they were able to halt the 20mph rollout as they’d done a pilot scheme first and seen the outcome. Let’s ensure Lewisham pilots future traffic measures before imposing them borough-wide in future.


Too late, speed limit will stay, there ar no second chances in this country just look at Brexit, at least I am agreeing with the speed limit of 20mph, personally I would like to see the day when drivers start to indicate which would be a start!


There were areas of 20 mph long before this was introduced - my road being one of them but I cannot say if or how they were analysed.

It is one of the most annoying things and I speak as a driver, pedestrian and cyclist. How much effort does it take really…


As a pedestrian I welcome the 20mph limit - it means that traffic should be going slower, giving me more time to cross the road. Surely fewer accidents right?!
but as a motorist, I’ve slowed down, and I realise that not everyone else has slowed down. The studies show that average traffic speed has only dropped by 1.5mph (or something like that…?) - so cars are only going a bit slower, and yet pedestrians are thinking that they’ve got much more time to get across. a recipe for more accidents in total, and therefore, in absolute numbers, an increase in KSI (and possibly a percentage increase in KSI too).
those that aren’t obeying the new limit are being more dangerous than they were previously - again leading, presumably, to more accidents.
my issue with all this is that there’s just too much other stuff going on which might be affecting the no of accidents, KSIs, etc to single out the 20mph introduction as the primary course of any change in numbers.
there are more cars on the road now, generally across the country, than a few years ago, but there are fewer in London, where more people are choosing public transport, or cycling/walking. There are other factors that play into this too.


Very much liking your fridge notes – did they work?

The 20mph decision was made by elected representatives, led by a Green councillor, discussed and voted through by the Mayor and the rest. I would expect that the great majority of councillors use pavements and roads and are also drivers, so this cannot reasonably be seen as a punitive measure led only by non drivers.

Incidentally, 36% of drivers are also cyclists. Most are also pedestrians. So there’s no real them and us here, it’s just us and how we share our roads and the environment around them together.

The policy was introduced with great popular support - limits are very, very popular. In the latest British Social Attitudes reports, only 13% of drivers and 5% of non-drivers were against speed limits of 20 mph on residential streets. Overall, 72% were in favour of 20 mile per hour speed limits in residential streets. So it is clear that the great majority of drivers and non drivers are in favour of this policy or at the very least neutral.

In the expectation that we will be less fearful of using the roads, and of course that safety is enhanced - more reliable evidence awaited.

The 30 mph limit was apparently introduced in the 1930’s. No idea why it was 30mph, but it looks as arbitrary as 20mph to me.

Adding police presence would be great but does not look as though that’s going to happen.

And I agree with you there is far too much ideological policy making about, but it is not this local policy area that’s suffering from it.


Slightly misleading use of stats there. People might well support 20mph limits on small residential roads where appropriate.

How about the attitude reports for borough-wide limits regardless of road category?

Here’s an appraisal of a blanket 20mph limit imposed on a London borough. Not very popular at all:



thanks - re my use of stats - I quoted directly from the BSA 's own summary report.
Still its the outcomes that matter. Here’s another thought.

I drive up my road to go shopping in Forest Hill at 20mph. A frustrated eejit in a hurry overtakes me at 30mph and mows down a family crossing the road. This keeps happening nationwide. What is the best response?

  1. It was my fault for driving just on the limit.
  2. It was the family’s fault. Educate pedestrians how to cross the road properly. Build more barriers where pedestrians have to cross.
  3. It was the other driver’s fault, throw the book at them.
  4. Increase the speed limit - no one should have to drive at 20mph, it simply is not reasonable.
    I have a sneaky feeling you will vote for 3 and then 4…
    have a good Christmas.


It’s nearly Christmas - and so a little light relief.

In the words of the immortal Dave Allen - “Keep death off the roads - drive on the pavement”.

I know, I know - just don’t write.


I have to say that, in my experience of both driving and cycling in the 20 zone, the signage is ineffective on its own. I’ve been overtaken on my bike on Perry Vale by drivers clearly not just doing more that 20 but more than 30. I’ve been dangerously tailgated by drivers when i’ve Been driving at 20, which makes sticking to 20 difficult. At the moment, because in the areas I drive in there are no speed cameras or other enforcement measures, the 20 zone is completely ineffective. Of course it would be much better if everyone did accept and abide by the limit, but safely they don’t and won’t until they know there is a penalty for failure to drive at or below 20. In the meantime, i’m still driving with some idiot right on my bumper, so if I did have to emergency stop for the proverbial child running into the road after the ball, that person would be straight in the back of me. I don’t like the 20 zone, but i’d Happily live with it for safety reasons, but I don’t feel safer as a cyclist and i now feel less safe as a driver. In my view, it has to be enforced to be effective.


I agree with you that 20mph zones are ineffective without enforcement (but think it would be insane for drivers to receive speeding tickets for travelling at 24mph).

The Association of Police Chiefs is also unenthused about enforcing 20mph speed limits set arbitrarily by the council.

A question - would our roads be safer if the £1.23M spent on the 20mph measures had instead been spent on human police enforcement of safe driving within Lewisham (keeping the standard 30mph urban speed limit)?


It is also a legal speed limit. Should a discussion about people wanting to break the law be in the general forum? Would a thread about drink driving be tolerated too?

If the point is specifically about spending priorities, isn’t that for Politicos? As well as being academic as the money has been spent.


£1.5m on signage? Not true. What a very misleading statement. The project budget approved by the Council showed just £100k to be spent on signage.

The overall project budget of £1.23m was spread over the 3 years of that budget , up to 2016/17 and £490k of it was allocated into 2017/18 and beyond. Annualised this is a miniscule part of Lewisham’s budget.

A much greater part (about £460k) of the overall project budget was allocated, following a review, to design and implement interventions to improve compliance. Compliance is something many posters on here seem to agree is desirable. And as we know, 20mph is a very popular policy among motorists and non motorists alike.

I’d think your support for the Mayor of London who is also arguing for increased Met Police budgets would be warmly welcomed.