Safer travel for residents as borough-wide 20mph speed limit is officially launched

Published: Thursday 29th June 17

Wandsworth is officially now a 20mph borough after the safer speed limit was formally launched on Friday.

The lower limit now applies in all of Wandsworth’s quieter residential backstreets and neighbourhoods and is designed to make local roads safer and also encourage other forms of sustainable transport like cycling and walking.

Accidents involving collisions between pedestrians and vehicles are three times less likely to be fatal if the speed of the impact is 20mph compared to 30mph.

Cllr Cook - 20mph will make our streets safer

Studies have shown that at 30mph, 55 per cent of collisions result in pedestrian fatalities while at 20mph this figure drops dramatically to just 17 per cent.

As well as being safer and encouraging other healthier modes of transport, slowing vehicle speeds reduces noise levels and helps improve air quality.

The lower limit now applies in all the borough’s quiet side streets but is unchanged on the borough’s busier main roads

This was the desired outcome expressed by residents in Wandsworth during last year’s widespread public consultation. In total 59 per cent of residents who took part supported lower speeds in residential streets, while 64 per cent agreed the limit should not be reduced on main roads.

Councillors from both the main political parties represented on the council also voted unanimously in favour of the change.

Highways engineers have now installed all the new road markings and signage to inform drivers that they need to stick to the lower speed limit in residential areas.

The council’s transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This decision was reached after months of very detailed consultation with our residents who expressed strong support for lower vehicle speeds in the quieter streets they call home.

“It was hugely important to seek and obtain the support of local people before making this change. Without their consent this important safety scheme would not have legitimacy, especially if it had been simply imposed from above without their agreement.

“With their support and co-operation we can work together to make our streets safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

“We hope that improving safety levels will encourage people to leave their cars at home and travel instead by bike or on foot.   

“And if we can reduce the number of vehicles on our roads then not only will our streets be quieter and safer but there should also be an improvement in air quality levels too.”

Implementing a borough-wide 20mph limit is costing £725,000 and is being funded by a Transport for London grant which is paying for appropriate signage and road markings to inform drivers of the lower limit. There are no plans at this stage to introduce additional speed humps or “sleeping policeman” anywhere in the borough as part of this initiative.

To put this sum into context, the cost of a slight or minor road traffic accident is around £22,000 which covers the costs of police, fire and ambulance service attendance, plus insurance, legal bills and loss of income to those injured.

The average cost of a more serious accident is in the region of £206,000 and in fatal accidents this sum rises to just under £1.8m - in addition to the incalculable human and emotional cost of loss and bereavement.

Enforcement of the new speed limit will be carried out by the police, with the council working in support of their efforts.

The council has also pioneered the introduction of Community Road  Watch initiatives in which community leaders, crime prevention panel members and neighbourhood watch co-ordinators also take part in enforcement exercises.

Involving local communities in helping to enforce lower limits and educate drivers about the dangers of excessive speeds is now being rolled out by the Met across London.

Any revenue generated by speed fines goes direct to HM Treasury not the town hall.

For more information about the new rules and additional background on the decision, visit

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Recent comments

All very laudable but who is policing this? How many convictions to date? No sign of any slowdown in Gwendolen Avenue!!
Richard Webb

5 July 2017

Thank goodness I not don't live in Wandsworth anymore - having to watch the speed as low as 20 mph rather than watching what others are doing on the road seems a formula for disaster - I do hope that I am wrong. I have discovered that the speed limiter on my current car does work at this low speed - a previous model did not work below 30 - thank goodness for the latest technology! The advantages of lower speed if involved in an accident are obvious and I really hope that the obvious disadvantage of constant attention to the instrument panel and having to use the breaks more (to keep the speed down on a modern car) do not eventually cause the accident rate to rise.
Michael Pharaoh

3 July 2017

Glad this has been implemented. But the new speed limit signs are small and infrequent. There has so far been no visible publicity or enforcement. Consequently, the new limit is being widely ignored in my area.

3 July 2017

I suggest we now remove all the speed humps which will improve air quality as vehicles will not have to brake and then accelerate causing damage to their suspension
ian scott

2 July 2017

Utterly pointless, of course, without any enforcement whatever - but the Council love it because it's paid for by someone else. Equally pointless, I'm afraid, is making a comment on this forum - no-one from the Council EVER responds to anything asked here, however reasonable the request. I was not surprised to learn last week from my town hall insider that in fact no-one from the Council even reads the comments - it was set up solely as an exercise in giving people a place to let off steam harmlessly...and as it syphons off some of the people who would otherwise write them annoying emails (and expect a reply), saves them time and money.

1 July 2017

I hope this 20 mph applies to cyclists also. Can remember not so long ago being able to keep up with a cyclist in Priory lane.
Liz D

1 July 2017

And even with motorists driving at 20 mph - pedestrians will still get killed. It would make more sense to fine pedestrians who cross roads at places other than official pedestrian crossings. Can't believe the stupidity of some pedestrians - where they decide to step out in the road.
Liz D

1 July 2017

If you spent that money on combating congestion on the main roads to get them flowing, drivers wouldn't feel the need to use residential roads as rat runs. Arguing over 20mph or 30mph limits is pointless if the traffic barely manages 10mph in stop-start traffic. Get the mains roads moving Fewer people will use residential roads as rat runs Less pollution from moving vehicles than stop-start traffic mean better air quality Less accelerating / braking means less noise for local residents This decision feels like £725k being poured into the pockets of sign makers and installers with nothing more than a vague hope there will be fewer accidents.

30 June 2017

20 mph is, in principle, a good idea but it is clear to me that is ignored by 90+% of drivers. Unless it is enforced drivers will not comply with it and unfortunately it will not reduce the accident rate.
David Gandy

30 June 2017

It's cost londeners over £725,000 to implement the 20mph zones in Wandsworth alone. I am glad we are all rolling in money now. This is such a waste of money and confusing to the motorist, especially if they don't live in London. Public sector at its worst

30 June 2017

Can you please stop going on about this stupid and costly 20mph scheme.The fact remains that there was absolutely nothing wrong with previous 30mph limit which was in force for the past 82 years!!! The money and effort involved in implementing this scheme would have been much better spent simply teaching everyone the Green Cross Code (does anybody remember that).In the meantime the streets of Balham remain filthy and full of rubbish.I think the money would have been better spent employing a few more street cleaners!

30 June 2017

Absolute rubbish. How about fixing the paving on Putney bridge
tom brehony

30 June 2017

I am genuinely disgusted that this has not been applied to major roads. I live on Garratt lane, so it feels like a residential street to me, regardless as to whether the BMW owning classes of the leafier suburban roads agree with me. The most casual of glances at the pedestrian accident statistics around Tooting Broadway proves that it is the main roads where tragedies occur, and where driver behaviour needs to change. There is simply no logic to not applying a lower limit to where most pedestrians actually encounter speeding drivers. Dreadful local government. Dreadful leadership. A dreadful lack of real concern for road accident voctims. Poor.
Paul Hopwood

30 June 2017

Whilst riding on a motorcycle along Acre Lane towards Brixton at 20mph as prescribed, I got aggressively tailgated by an Addison Lee taxi driver, who finally overtook me whilst speeding and screaming verbal abuse at me through his car window. Tell me, exactly how do 20mph limits make the roads safer if so many drivers refuse to adhere to them? Southend Lane near Sydenham is an example of a 20mph dual carriageway. I rarely observe cars sticking to the speed limit, including police cars not using their sirens...

30 June 2017

Why is it that some streets have big (20) markings on the road surface and other streets don't? These only have small signs on lampposts, which can be hidden by trees and parked vehicles There are no road surface (20) signs in Longley road which has loads of through traffic, ie all traffic from Mitcham going towards Wandsworth.
Helen Coventry

30 June 2017

I agree with the 20mph speed limit, and stick to it. However on Ritherdon Road cars almost never follow the 20 mph limit, and often overtake me at speed it I do. Without visible enforcement the 20 mph will be ineffective.
Darren Townsend-Handscomb

30 June 2017

The residents of Rectory Lane in Wandsworth are disgusted that JUST Rectory Lane has been excluded from the 20mph limit in this area, and signs have been put up showing 30mph applies just to this short very residential road. We are already battling with the ineffectiveness of the Council in enforcing the exclusion of HGV's from this road, useless signage, and the use of our road as a cut through to avoid congestion at Tooting Broadway. It is making our lives a nightmare... made worse by speeding vehicles in the road now that its identified as a 30mph zone. We were not consulted at all and received absolutely no letters advising of a consultation over the planned 20mph in this area...which we find discriminatory.
J M G Vivian

30 June 2017

And nobody is taking a blind bit of notice. Introduce it all you like, congratulate yourselves for the appearance of doing something, high five yourselves for the achievement but cars and buses are still driving down my road - often in excess of the previous and perfectly reasonable 30 mph, that should have been left as was. So what next - someone standing at each end of every road with a speed camera? Cameras on everything street? I hope not - we are already the most 'observed' people in the world I believe. Will you be installing a camera in my house anytime soon to ensure I am not running down my stairs too quickly? Or taking two at a time on the ascent.
Anne Dettmer

30 June 2017

Very pleased with 20mph, but signs vet inconsistent along Bolingbrook Grove. Some say 30mph one side & 20mph!!! A little confusing. I cycle that route to work & back every day and many cars drive very fast. How are they going to get pulled up? Will watch with interest!
Olivia Ford

30 June 2017

20mph in Battersea Park rd Brilliant but it is not respected.. cameras might help .
Josephine Bell

30 June 2017

Even the councils own bin lorries raced down the road at speed well over 30 (and probably over 40 too) when it was a 30 zone. Now it's a 20 they are still doing it. So no improvement! My understanding is that we were declined traffic calming (speed bumps) so please tell me how this is going to be enforced.

30 June 2017

On the one hand this is great news. On the other, there are no promises to actually enforce this, so only those who were careful motorists anyway will heed this, and they aren't the ones who are speeding. WBC you need to enforce this otherwise it has been a pointless exercise.

30 June 2017

It is good to know that 20mph speed limited will come into force but without cctv cameras in place the motorist will NOT pay any heed to the enforcement. I sincerely hope that every street in Wandsworth gets a CCTV camera installed so that those motorist and the those drivers riding on motor bikes too get fined for exceeding speed limit.
Mrs Madhu Shay

30 June 2017

Great news- well done all round Questions How will compliance be assessed annually? Will we get an annual report as residents ? Will we get a regular list of successful prosecutions in Wandsworth and penalties applied ? How often and where will the Police have speed monitoring of 20 MP limit and will we get a report from them ? Have they done any checks so far - if so what happened ? If not - why not. Most drivers seem to ignore the new limits - can we have some flashing limit signs in high risk areas near schools ? If so when - if not why not - school safety should be top of the agenda! Can we have a regular report in the Brightside magazine with hard factual reporting ?
James Armstrong

30 June 2017

Whilst delighted that the 20 mph is being introduced we here in Roseneath are seeing increased traffic as it is used as a cut through to avoid humps on thurleigh road.there are two dangerous corners and yet cars are speeding through at over 35 mph. Many children live on the road and it is proving very dangerous. We never see a policeman here so how with this be informed. We need humps or some form of calming urgently please before a serious accident happens
Collette mchugh

29 June 2017