Bristol better at 20mph – what do you think?

What’s the big idea?

20 mph - what do you think?Safety, health and community are the three key benefits of introducing a reduction from 30mph to 20mph on Bristol’s roads.

Lower road speeds mean that walking and cycling are more attractive choices, making us healthier; they also support local communities making crossing the road and using local facilities and businesses easier, and increase opportunities to meet and mix with other people living and working in our neighbourhoods.

And of course, reduced road speeds mean that collisions are less likely, and the injuries, when they do occur, are less serious.

How could it work in practice?

There has already been a successful pilot scheme in areas of South and East Bristol where we trialled 20mph. Results from the pilots showed a drop in average speed, an increase in walking and cycling and no change in journey times and reliability for buses. 82% of those who live in the pilot areas support 20mph.

In July 2012,  the Council gave its approval to bring in a 20mph speed limit in Bristol, meaning that all roads except 40mph, 50mph and dual carriageways will be considered for a 20 mph speed limit.  The speed limit change would be introduced throughout Bristol in six phases. The first phase, which covers central Bristol begins in July 2013. The speed limit applies to all vehicles on the road.

Who’s paying for it?

Funding to cover the £2.3 million it costs to implement the scheme will come from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, awarded to the Council by the Government in 2012.

How would it be enforced?

The 20mph speed limit is the new legal limit. If you drive over the legal limit, you are breaking the law. As with the current 30mph speed limit, it is intended to be self-enforcing with periodic endorsement from the Police.

Vehicle Automated Signs (VAS) will be used to remind drivers of their speeds, and a communications campaign to highlight the lower speed limit and tell people about the benefits will take place as the roll out of each phase begins.

How do I find out more?

You can find out more information on

Update and progress report

This consultation closed on 29th October 2012.  A Progress Update for the 20 mph project has been produced incorporating the feedback from the Neighbourhood Forums, meetings, briefings, survey and displays that were carried out in central Bristol and the wider area from September to December last year. This is not your last chance to voice your views as there will also be a further opportunity to express views during the formal Traffic Regulation Order consultation for Phase 1 later this year.

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346 thoughts on “Bristol better at 20mph – what do you think?

  1. Another brilliant idea from anti-car fanatics who ride cycles to work and have no idea about driving in the city. What part of accident rates rising in pilot areas do you not understand? How about enforcing the 30 mph zone properly instead of bringing in a 20 mph that you won’t enforce. The drivers who obey it will be hassled by speeding drivers even more than those of us who try to stick to 30mph are hassled now. Anyone tried to drive at or below the speed limit on the 30mph section of Newfoundland Rd before it turns into the M32? One speed trap there for a day would bring in a fortune. Try enforcing rules before you make more. Cycles being ridden on the pavement, wrong way at lights and one way streets, recklessly and speeding, without lights….etc……etc…..

    • “What part of accident rates rising in pilot areas do you not understand?”

      I think you do not understand the way they presented the statistics you appear to allude to. Of course accident rates rose. If you increase the amount of 20 mph zones, the number of accidents will increase. It’s just maths. The same as before the NHS existed, no one died in NHS hospitals, however as soon as it was formed, people started dying in their hospitals. i.e. deaths increased. To put it a way others have done, “things tend to have a greater effect on the world once they exist”.

      • No. Accident rates rose because people were staring obsessively at their speedos to avoid going above 20mph instead of concentrating on the roads ahead and the hazards around… Also pedestrians and cyclists become reckless because they believe cars won’t hurt them at 20mph… Again.. promote driver/rider awareness instead of clamping down in an unneccesary way.

    • “Anti-car fanatics”??? Most people don’t just use one mode of transport do they. People I know cycle into the centre for work because its easier, quicker and cheaper than driving. They might then use their car for a longer journey or to leave the city. Don’t forget this is also for the benefit of people who don’t drive (children, young people, frail elderly).

      • Well said. Anti-car? Yes I am, when there’s no need! 75% of all trips we make are under 4 miles. We all need to get out of the habit of reaching for our car keys every time we need to go somewhere. I cycle to work and for short trips, or walk, when i drive my car I should and do expect it to take longer. The average speed at peak commuting times is under 10mph anyway. We must prioritise people’s walking and cycling facilities and make cars wait and take third place. I am happy to wait, I don’t have the expectation that I should have priority over every other mode of transport. Petrol is over £6 a gallon, I choose very carefully how I use my car, we all have that choice, yes public transport needs improving, yes cycle infrastructure needs improving. Less traffic benefits everyone’s environment and our children will thank us for it.

        • Why should a car (often carrying more than one person) automatically be penalised in YOUR favour. Think about the BIG picture -age, work, needs etc. .

  2. I really don’t see this working. Driving round Bristol at 30mph I am regularly overtaken by cars and vans doing well in excess of 40! If you have a 20mph limit I think it will lull people into thinking they are safer than they actually are. Traffic calming measures would be more effective as it forces vehicles to slow. I believe main roads should stay at 30mph.

  3. All in favour of the 20 limit, makes really no difference as most roads they plan to introduce it to are already lined with parked cars on both sides an most people don’t do over 20-25 on them anyway. The people that do travel quickly down these sorts of roads, are the people who wouldn’t obey the speed limit anyway such as the cyclists that zoom down Ashley down hill, pass you on the left as your indicating and trying to turn left.

    But if Bristol does have the funds to spend on road safety, how about a campaign to educate the hundreds of cyclists that run red lights, pass on the left when there is no cycle lane and generally just have no training with traffic or understanding of traffic. What ever happened to the cycling proficiency test?

    All good intention of making the roads safer, but the one set of road users that cant be stopped from speeding (think the limits don’t apply to them, and usually don’t have a speedometer) have no liability on the road anyway, so unless you pass a by-law or something you are just wasting money on flashing signs and road signs.

    • Once again, some and I repeat some, cyclists run red lights and cycle on pavements. But still all of us are branded with this. How would you like it if all motorists were included in a rant about red light running (15000 car drivers caught running red lights last year in Bristol) or driving on pavements in order to park, or speeding. How about training them? Oh they have mostly passed a test but choose to ignore the rules. But they are far far more dangerous to other people as they are driving fast moving heavy objects.
      There is a new idea about cycle training called Bikeability and I too wish more cyclists would take this up and then they wouldn’t pass you on the left but be behind you or in front of you as part of the traffic.

      • Good point. The key to reducing the friction between all road users is understanding and respect. Some concerned cyclists (who also drive and walk by the way) have set up the Campaign for Considerate Cycling (Google it) to try and improve the image of cycling and improve relations between all road users. We’re asking people who cycle to try and think about how their actions can add ammunition to the whole ‘us and them’ situation. We want more people cycling and it’s hard to promote something when it has a bad image.

      • I ride my cycle properly, on the road and obey all the signals and lights etc… that didn’t stop me from being hit by a driver running a red light in april 2011.. Still plagued by shoulder problems and have been put right off cycling since…

        Agreed, there should be a ‘test’ for cyclists before they can ride on the open roads…. a ‘licence’ if you will…. a database of names/dob/adresses that the police can access of people that are entitled to ride pushbikes on the roads… preferably use the sustrans funding for the courses instead of more road furniture…

        Incidentally how many people are aware there is a possibility of a £500 fine for cycling on the pavement? Check your highway code people, its not JUST for cars and motorcycles… pedestrians and cyclists are covered also.

    • Cyclists wont break the new speed limit. Interestingly the proposal expressly states that the 20mph limit will only apply to “motorised vehicles”, so cyclists can happily over/undertake the cars stuck travelling at 20mph. Got to love the intelligence levels involved here. A bicycle travelling at 30mph takes longer to stop safely (assuming the rider doesnt just fly over the handlebars) and being hit by a bike is much more dangerous not only for a pedestrian but also for the cyclist themselves.

    • You’ll be happy to hear about the Campaign for Considerate Cycling that was set up by some people that cycle in Bristol. These people also drive and walk, as a lot of cyclists do.
      The campaign is trying to increase understanding between all road users as no one is perfect.
      Bikeability is the current Cycling Proficiency test and the local sustainable transport fund is enabling it to be rolled out across Bristol, to educate the next generation of cyclists.
      However, just as everyone who has taken a driving test does not stick to the rules, this is the same with people who cycle, not forgetting pedestrians that do dangerous things as well.
      The situation is a lot more complex than just taking a cycling test – it’s about education and understanding – for everyone that uses the road.
      Cycling numbers are increasing and the Campaign for Considerate Cycling shows that people that cycle are trying to improve the situation both to increase harmony on the road and also to get more people cycling because it’s hard to promote something that had a negative image.
      I hope you have time to visit the Campaign’s website.

      • Regardless of transport mode, any road user who runs a red light is a danger to themselves and others – and unfortunately you do see this occurring more often in Bristol than 20 years ago.
        Encouraging equality amongst road users is laudable too, but the big difference – at the moment – is identification. If a motorist/motorcyclist/bus/HGV breaks the law, then their registration number can be reported to the police, but this isn’t the case with the minority of inconsiderate cyclists. I feel this is one reason why there is this ‘us and them’ mentality. Perhaps if a cycling group were to issue a high-vis vest with reference number, upon successful completion of a proficiency course, this would further reduce the atmosphere of discord.
        It would certainly have helped a friend of mine – who was laid out in Gloucester by a cyclist riding on the pavement who subsequently legged it – gain some financial redress. He’s self-employed and ended up losing work because of his back injuries.

  4. Ever been hit by a cyclist whizzing down Ashley Down Road at 25mph with a tyre contact patch the size of your thumbprint and unable to break? No I haven’t yet either but I have had to dodge one as a pedestrian more than once. I have also been almost hit several times by cyclists riding up one-way streets the wrong way or taking a short-cut across the pavements.

    I support a 20 mph speed limit in my street (in St Andrews) and all similar residential roads across the whole city, but I do not support it on main A roads and through-routes because I think it will either clog up the city or throw too many people onto the wrong side of the law; or both. If there are Millions available to put up 20mph signs and flashing warning boards it would be much better to spend the money on helping the elderly, disadvantaged, homeless, etc. Or paying for a few extra nurses. Why, we could even save more lives then than a 20 mph limit could!

    • The funding used to implement the 20 mph speed limit has come from a share of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund allocated by the Government and can only be spent on transport projects.


        • Bristol is an old city with insufficient room for new segregated cycle lanes – unless you want to take away pavements and roads. The Local Sustainable Transport Fund is heavily subsidising Adult Cycle training through LifeCyleUK, which helps people know how to cycle safely and confidently on the roads. If more people know how to cycle properly then they can use the roads as the cycle network – as nearly all my peers do. We have to look at the reality – places like Holland, where they have segregated lanes have been investing £16 per person per year on cycling infrastructure since the early 70s. UK current investment is £2. Ideally we would have better cycling infrastructure but to do this overnight will not happen especially without strong Government intervention. Realistically we have to improve this though education.

      • Buses! Sort out buses for that money! Have a look at other european cities. Tickets available in kiosks in advance, 3 or 4 doors and validating tickets once you’re on the bus (not by the driver) would reduce the exchange time by 80%! Sitting at a bus stop for 5 minutes waiting for 10 ppl to get off and 10 to get on is really annoying. This should take seconds not minutes! Ban First from exchanging drivers mid-route (something I experienced at Lawrence Hill). Why can’t the bus driver get on, go on the bus to the end and change there?! It sometimes extends journey times by 100%! And leave the speed limits as they are. Just improve enforcement.

    • This IS an intervention to help:
      (i) the elderly (who might need more time to cross the road that a 20mph travelling vehicle will give them)
      (ii) disadvantaged (those in the most deprived areas have the highest casualty rates from being hit by speeding motor vehicles)
      (iii) the homeless (who are likely to be walking or cycling as a way of getting around the city).

      Physical inactivity costs the local NHS £6.2 million a year, employing a few extra nurses will not change this. Changes to the transport system will.

  5. I support this but it would be pointless without active enforcement by BCC/Police. I regularly ride down Ashley Down Road (the 20 mph part) on my bike at 20-25 mph and every single motor vehicle overtakes me. There is just nothing to stop them and the zone may just as well not exist. What does “it is intended to be self-enforcing with periodic endorsement from the Police” mean in real life? A mealy mouthed construction of words written by motorists, no doubt.

    Also, for those whose are sceptical about whether this can reduce deaths, you may or may not be right (statistically), however I think it is about more than that. It is about starting to bring about a sense of proportion to our roads. About non-motorists not being intimidated by vehicles hurtling about narrow roads at 30+. About pedestrians having time to being able to cross roads without taking their life into their own hands. And so much more …

    For much of the last 50 years we have allowed the interests of motorists to unfairly determine the structure of our cities, the way we get around on foot, the way public transport can provide services, what spaces children can feel safe in, etc.

    It’s time, in a very minor way way, to begin redressing the imbalance. And hopefully we can then start really tackling the problem.

    • I agree completely with what you’re saying about how 20mph will change the road environment for all road users – that’s a key factor in the project.

      On your point about enforcement and what ‘self enforcing with periodic enforcement from the police’ means, it’s just a way of saying that 20mph will be enforced in the same way as 30mph – it’s up to every road user to stick to the legal speed limit, whatever it is, and the police will do periodic speed checks to enforce the law and support it.

  6. Accidents increased overall in the pilot areas.
    Only 5% of accidents are caused by speeding.

    What is the obsession with speeding? It’s not even in the top 10 causes of accidents!!!!

    • The majority of casualties happen over 20mph. However, a lower speed limit will make the streets safer for all roads users, not just drivers.
      Other benefits to reduced speed as well as a road danger reduction include an increase in walking and cycling and increased outdoor play all of which has a positive impact on health and community. Calmer speeds and more people-centred communities help to create more pleasant environments for all.

      • “However, a lower speed limit will make the streets safer for all roads users, not just drivers” —– And yet accidents went up on average in the two pilot areas.

        • To increase outdoor play, spend the money on safe recreational play areas… the streets aren’t like the 1970s anymore like when I was young… increased road loads mean don’t play in the street.. parents should take a more active participation in their kids leisure, instead of vegetating in front of the telly and yelling out the window when they want them in… reduce beauracracy and cost for youth groups and play-scheme volunteers/workers… so that interaction and community is promoted rather than constantly being paranoid about kiddy snatchers… train youth workers to spot and deal with those people instead. Bristol’s green spaces are vastly underused.

      • Since the council seems hell bent on bringing this in, despite the majority not wanting it, will you even listen if the vote comes back against the proposals? If not, never ever forgive the Lib Dem council for their ignorance.

        • We already know exactly how good the Lib Dems are at sticking to their manifesto promises at Westmister level. I see no reason to expect any better locally. This is a done deal because it fits in with their philosophy and politics, any so-called consultation is a sham. My road had already been made 20mph without me ever being even asked.

      • come and live in the real world,i will not let my children play in the street even if you pedestrianised it. you need to spend money on making the streets safe to be on and stop fleecing motorist

      • There is also a benefit in terms of reduced noise pollution. City Road (and street which already has a 20mph speed limit) often sounds like a drag street in the evening with many drivers routinely driving far in excess of the speed limit. The noise is a blight on the area. Proper enforcement and traffic calming measures (bumps / cameras / police) are needed to make the lower speed limit work.

        • Surely there will be increased noise pollution from higher revving engines where cars are forced to use a lower gear than normal? Not to mention the extra pollution this will cause….

        • Think this has been looked at in the pilot areas and there was no significant increase in noise or air pollution. In addition the impact of people choosing to walk and cycle for short journeys should reduce these as well.

  7. I’m fully in favour of this as it creates a much better environment for walking and cycling and has minimal impact on motorists. As long as it’s not extended to some of the main arterial routes and I’m reassured it’s not going to apply to 40, 50mph or dual carriageways – no mission creep please. Getting more people walking and cycling has so many health benefits and it’s bound to cut accidents and their severity. Go for it!

    • Get real! what about the people that have to drive across the city to do a job of work, it will slow all deliveries down, who’s going to pay for the extra time & wages bill? the employers? NO, the general public again! that means you & I ! people will avoid the town & the shops & our economy will also suffer! Wake up Bristol (before it’s to late!) as the traffic congestion’s bad enough as it is with out adding to it!

      • If the traffic congestion is bad enough we need to do something about it. Slower speeds will not necessarily slow deliveries down, calmer driving sometimes means no change in overall speed, just a cessation of acceleration and braking behaviour. If more people cycle or walk there will be fewer cars on the road and thus less congestion.

        • Can you really see Mr. or Mrs.Average walking or riding to work in the vile weather that persists in this country? I don’t really think so when they can arrive at work without looking like drowned rats! If we had decent weather like Spain etc., (dream on! ) perhaps it would happen, but its not going to until we get predictable dry weather!

    • Money would be better spent segregating the various traffic types. Its not the speed of other road users that puts me off cycling more than i do, its the lack of space.

    • I agree that some narrow and congested by parked car residential streets would benefit from slower traffic in general… but a lot of roads don’t need to be less than the 30 they currently are. The problem in the main are the drivers themselves who choose NOT to mitigate their speed and driving style according to the conditions/visibility and or narrowness of the streets. The onus should be on the DRIVER themselves to pick an APPROPRIATE speed and road position for the conditions around them… Speed doesn’t kill, inappropriate speed kills. Wide road with good visibility and now parked cars is obviously ok to up the speed on, whereas a narrow congested street is a reason to slow down and be extra aware of pedestrians steeping out etc.

      • Again no notion of the effect of your vehicle speed on others. Just your own ideas about safety. What about noise? What about perception of danger and the ‘imprisonment’ of kids inside because of this. What about drivers attempting to get out of side roads with short sight lines? What about other people generally and the stress noise can cause?

        • Kids running up and down the road screaming and shouting like they invariably do…not to mention the little buggers who CONSTANTLY kick their football at the side of my house and off my windows, scaring my cats etc…. Never had a problem with the odd loud exhaust….

          and if you pay attention…. I said you have to ‘mitigate your driving according to the conditions around you’ … which includes speed, road position and nuisance noises, for example the car stereos you hear rattling the plant pots off the windowsill with their bass bins.
          For your information I’m a pretty considerate driver… I’ll always let people out at busy junctions, I am always looking out for hazards including pedestrians and kids playing….as a motorcyclist you have to be REALLY paranoid about this…

          For all my talk of ‘self regulation’..I’ve NEVER been picked up for excess speed or indeed any other road traffic offence… which means self regulation MUST have an amount of merit to it, no?

  8. It is better to cycle and walk around Southville since they introduced the 20mph speed limit. It’s calmer and feels safer. I drive as well and I haven’t noticed any difference to my journey. I’m in favour of this but hope we won’t see a proliferation of 20mph signs across the city as I’m concerned about the cost. Will we need once at the entrance and exit of every road in Bristol with a 20mph speed limit.

    • There should be no need for a proliferation of 20mph signs, if 20mph replaces 30mph as the default speed limit for the city as a whole. A 20mph sign at each entrance into the city would inform drivers what the speed limit is in Bristol; where there are exceptions to this – dual carriageways, 40 mph and 50 mph roads – these roads already have signs to indicate the higher limits. What would be a mistake, I think, would be to keep some roads at 30mph, so that there is a multiplicity of different limits, with all the acceleration and braking that is involved in moving from one limit into another, and the possibility of forgetting what the limit actually is on the bit of road you are currently driving along (as I do sometimes when travelling on the awful A38 between Bristol and Bridgwater). Keep it simple. And, please, no radar-controlled flashing “20” signs – which are a complete waste of money, as no-one seems to take any notice of them.

    • Agree! I like walking and cycling in the first areas that got 20mph. You have time to get across the road safely when someone is driving at 20, that is important if you have children or you are an older person who needs extra time to cross.

      • Nonsense. The time available to cross does not change if you drop the speed as the cars get closer together. You need to cross at crossings as in the ‘states

  9. I am sorry I am not convinced that reducing the speed limit wil have the benefits stated. The last 3 road accidents which resulted in deaths in North Bristol were due to a combination of both speed and Alcohol.
    No matter what the speed limit the accident would have occurred because the drivers were incapable of driving their car.

    • Couldn’t put it better. I cycle to work everyday and everyday drivers whizz past me at unbeleivable speeds. 20mph speed limits will have no impact on the stupidity of the driver. (I also drive). Maybe we should take a look at the bigger picture and that’s use the resources we have to stop road accidents and deaths.

      • I see so many cyclists (myself included) powering along at way over 20mph… the average road (drop handlebar) bike is capable of up to 40mph with a fit rider… even on my hybrid (26″ wheels) I can reach 34mph on the flat in top gear…. again… driver awareness and promoting better self-assesment of the conditions, moderating driver speed according to the situation would be more beneficial.

    • I can hardly believe most of this tennis between the pro-drivers and the pro-cyclists. It’s just about slowing individual vehicles to a sensible speed in order to reduce accidents and the seriousness of the injuries that result from accidents. And make the place feel safer ‘n nicer. The evidence for this being sensible is uncontestable. Comments about silly drivers and silly cyclists, the need for speed or the rights of drivers are just missing the point.

      Just gotta pull on the ol’ lycra shorts now. Or shall I pull on the driving gloves? Don’t you just hate those cyclists who jump lights? I do actually. Blimey it’s hard to resist, isn’t it?

      • I am a pedestrian, cyclist, and car driver. 30mph is a sensible speed much of the time, and has been so for decades. The Highway Code says you should drive according to the road and traffic conditions, so of course it is not always right to go at 30mph in a 30mph zone. But often it is. A 20mph limit applying on all roads at all times will mean that a fair amount of the time drivers will be driving unnecessarily slowly. I have tried driving at 20mph when the roads are quiet and it is senseless, stuck in 2nd gear and crawling along, on the off chance that a cyclist or pedestrian will do something stupid (for which they should accept responsibility, not pass it on to vehicle drivers). Cyclists and pedestrians have to learn to be sensible, as do vehicle drivers.

        If you want a cast iron guarantee that no cyclists or pedestrians are ever badly injured then slow all traffic, including cyclists, to a walking pace, or ban all cars (and those cyclists who are dangerous to pedestrians) altogether. As with everything we need a balance, and 20mph on main roads and through routes whatever the conditions is too slow and is not a good balance for vehicles to get around cities (some cyclists go faster than 20mph). 30mph is a good balance.

        Cllr Tim Kent admits elsewhere on this forum that the accident rate is reducing generally anyway. The evidence that 20mph reduces accident rates is not there, not is it there for reducing emissions. Yes 20mph would reduce injury if and when someone is hit, and I support it in smaller side streets. But not on bigger roads and those used as through routes in the city. All road and pavement users should take care. It’s a two way thing and everyone should take responsibility, not demonise one section of users, nor offload their own personal responsibility onto others.

        The documents from the UWE consultation show that the real reason for the 20mph limit is to try and reduce car use. It says that repeatedly in so many words. It is about lifestyle change directed at car drivers, but without being able to effect simultaneous change in so-called public transport (privately owned companies more interested in profit), large supermarkets and out of town shopping centres which encourage private car use.

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