A CITY politician has backed calls for a 20mph zone to cover the whole country, and has suggested people be encouraged to leave their cars at home and walk or cycle shorter journeys.

Newport East’s Labour AM John Griffiths has been a long-time supporter of reducing the default speed limit in residential areas in Wales from 30mph to 20mph.

And last week first minister Mark Drakeford said he was also in favour of the idea, and announced work was under way to bring the policy into place across Wales.

And, speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Griffiths said measures being put in place to support ‘active travel’ – walking and cycling – made it the ideal time to bring the idea into practice.


Official backing for 20mph speed limit campaign

BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Are we likely to see the standard 30mph speed limit drop to 20mph?

'Clear, consistent and unchanging majority support for 20mph in Wales'

“It does seem to me that the many benefits that 20mph limits offer in our inner-urban areas are very conducive to active travel,” he said.

“If we do reduce the speed of vehicles through those areas, it does make active travel much more attractive, much more to doable.

“So, I do think the two policies need to work in tandem.”

Currently local authorities are able to enforce 20mph limits in specified areas, but Mr Griffiths said bringing the limit in as standard would save councils money by instead requiring them to bring in orders to increase limits to 30mph – which would be less common.

South Wales Argus:

Newport East AM John Griffiths

Responding to Mr Griffiths, deputy economy and transport minister Lee Waters said evidence had shown the policy was “a no-brainer”.

“Lower speeds will not only reduce casualties and improve public health, it will also create an environment that is more friendly to active travel,” he said.

And he called the first minister’s support for the 20mph campaign “a real game-changer”

“We've all, through constituency representation, had groups of people who want slower speeds in their area,” he said. “It's the issue that's raised with me consistently when I have monthly public meetings. They don't like speed bumps – on the whole, they tend to divide opinion – but they do want slower speeds.

“And I think we need to move from the position where we see 30 as the default with a case to be made for 20, to being 20 as the default with a case to be made for 30.”

South Wales Argus:

Lee Waters

Research has shown decreasing limits from 30mph to 20mph would cut the number of crashes by 17 per cent, and also benefit the environment due to less acceleration, gear changes and braking.

The limit was introduced on some roads in Bristol in 2014, and research has shown an estimated 18 lives have been saved, and more than 680 injuries have been prevented as a result.

Other cities to introduce the limit in some areas include Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bath, Manchester, Liverpool and Cambridge, and Transport for London has said the limit will be put in place on some roads within the Congestion Charging Zone by 2020.