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Secretary of State for Transport asked to support default 20mph speed limit in Birmingham

Published: Thursday, 21st May 2020

Yesterday, 20 May 2020, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar MBE, wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP.

The letter asked for central Government to support the introduction of a 20mph default speed limit in Birmingham.

The default limit is intended to cover all residential streets and local centres in Birmingham, an estimated 90% of the city’s streets. Main roads and distributor roads would be exempt and signed separately.

Birmingham City Council adopted a policy of 20mph delivery in 2014. Several pilot schemes have been carried out since 2016, receiving a positive response from local communities and early indications of a reduction in collisions.   

However, as expressed in the letter today, implementing signage for every intended 20mph area in the city could take up to 6 years to complete and cost around £10-12 million to deliver. Further complexities have also arisen due to the current covid-19 pandemic.

In the letter, Councillor Zaffar explains: “This is time and resource that we could instead dedicate to bringing forward various other measures to ensure safer space for walking and cycling that is so urgently needed at the current time.

“Default 20mph (with other speed limits being signed by exception) would be a much quicker and more cost-effective way of implementing this.”

Birmingham City Council launched its Emergency Transport Plan last week (14 May 2020) outlining plans for a wide range of measures to support walking, cycling and public transport across the city, in light of COVID-19.

Councillor Zaffar and the council have called on local MPs, community groups, Business Improvement Districts and local organisations for their backing to support the move to a default 20mph speed limit, to help build on the successful Slower is Safer behaviour change programme.

The letter concludes with a commitment to sharing learnings of the initiative with the Department of Transport, to inform the future development and delivery of safer speed limits across the country.