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

Published: 29 June 2017

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.

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 www.wandsworth.gov.uk/20mph.