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20 is Plenty

13th March 2019

Professor John Whitelegg, an internationally renowned expert on Sustainable Transport, and Green Party Transport Advisor, and Lead on Transport Policy for the South Shropshire Green Party, testifies to the prestigious UK Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety re the vital need for a national default speed limit of 20 mph on all roads currently set at 30mph.

On Thursday 7th March Professor John Whitelegg gave an invited presentation to the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety in the House of Commons (note 1)

John explained to MPs and road safety experts that the UK was falling behind other countries on deaths and serious injuries affecting pedestrians, cyclists, children and older people.   Sweden and the Netherlands have a much better road safety record for pedestrians and cyclists than the UK because Sweden and the Netherlands have 20 mph limits on the majority of residential streets.

As a result of these policies, the Netherlands provides a much safer environment for pedestrians than the UK and its roads and streets are 4 times safer than the UK's for children (Note 2).

Professor Whitelegg, who jointly co-ordinates a Shropshire wide 20 mph campaign, said “Shropshire Council is part of the problem.  It refuses to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the British Medical Association, which call for thewidespread adoption of 20 mph. Shropshire Council's failure to implement these recommendations from public health and road safety experts, highlights the pressing need for national action to protect pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable road users.  We did not leave the requirement for seat belt wearing to a discussion in Shirehall.  We did not leave limits on blood alcohol levels to a discussion in Shirehall and the same should apply to default speed limits”

Professor Whitelegg concluded his presentation with a call for the UK Parliament to adopt the policy of the European Transport Safety Council:

Adopt maximum 30kph/20mph speed limits in residential areas and areas where there are large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, or where there could be potential to increase cycling and walking by investing in infrastructure. 

Commenting on the need for a 20 mph default speed limit for the majority of residential roads, the South Shropshire Green Party Co-ordinator, Hilary Wendt said “The Green Party nationally and locally campaigns for default 20 mph speed limits.  We demand the highest possible road safety environment for children, older people, those with mobility difficulties and all pedestrians and cyclists. We are very critical of the Shropshire Council Conservative administration for rejecting such an obvious public health and safety gain that default 20 mph speed limits bring. There is no excuse for ignoring proven ways we can reduce death and injury on our roads, whilst making walking and cycling more attractive to more people, thereby improving our health and our quality of life in built up areas, and helping reduce our carbon footprint and costs to the NHS. 

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