Roads within the London Congestion Charge Zone will have a 20mph speed limit from Monday 2 March as part of the Mayor’s efforts to cut road deaths and serious injuries in the capital, Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed today.
All 5.5 miles of roads within the charging zone – which covers the same roads as the Ultra Low Emission Zone – will have the limit cut to 20mph and all speed cameras re-calibrated in time to enforce it next week.
Drivers caught speeding by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras in central London will receive three penalty points on their driving licence and a fine of £100.
New limit: Every road within central London’s Congestion Charge Zone will have a 20mph limit from Monday 2 March 2020, TfL has confirmed today
Announcing the news today, London mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘I am absolutely determined to do everything I can to eradicate all deaths and serious injuries on London’s roads and these new measures are a vital step along the way to helping us to achieve this.
‘By cutting speed limits on TfL’s roads within the Congestion Zone we are saving lives, while at the same time making our streets more appealing for Londoners to walk and cycle around the capital.’
According to TfL’s own figures, speed is a factor in around 37 per cent of collisions in London where a person dies or is seriously injured.
Figures from 2016, 2017 and 2018 show 131 people were killed in speed-related collisions on London’s streets. A further 2,256 people were reported as seriously injured in collisions where speed was recorded as a contributory factor.
The new limit was first announced back in September following a public consultation related to reducing casualty statistics in central London.
Mr Khan said at the time that the lower limits would be enforced from May 2020, but has now fast-tracked the introduction by two months.
More than 2,000 members of the public responded to the proposal, receiving mixed opinions.
Around half of those surveyed said a lower speed limit would have a positive impact on the number of people who choose to walk and three in five said it would boost cycling numbers.
However, when asked if they would ditch their cars, less than a third said a 20mph limit would result in them travelling across the capital by foot.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said he is ‘absolutely determined to do everything I can to eradicate all deaths and serious injuries’ on London’s roads
Transport for London will introduce 20mph speed limits on all roads inside the capital’s Congestion Charge Zone – and Ultra Low Emission Zone
The changes mean that that two fifths (39 per cent) of London streets will have 20mph limits in place
What happens now?
TfL is now implementing new signage and road markings in preparation for the lower speed limits from Monday and is also adding raised pedestrian crossings.
This congestion zone covers 39 per cent of all London roads.
Speed cameras are also being calibrated to the new limit and will be ready to catch motorists who exceed it from the introduction date.
There were almost 2,000 responses to the consultation for the introduction of 20mph speed limits last year, according to TfL
This is likely to spark an increase in speeding offences, with police in London already processing around 160,000 speeding tickets each year – 42,000 of which are for offences committed in 20mph zones.
To crack down on these motorists, TfL has also confirmed it and Metropolitan Police will have a new ‘speed enforcement team’ setup as part of a joint commitment.
This team will specifically target ‘dangerous, careless and illegal driving across London’s roads’.
From April, it will identify speeding drivers across the capital, including within the new 20mph speed limits.
‘The team will be deployed to known high-risk locations for speeding and will respond to stakeholder and community concerns about drivers speeding in their area, equipped with the newest laser video speed enforcement technology,’ a TfL statement confirmed.
Andy Cox, Metropolitan Police detective superintendent, added: ‘Speed limits are designed to keep road users safe, they are limits not targets and the law should be adhered to.
‘Excessive speed unfortunately remains a common cause of serious and fatal collisions across London and the consequences can be devastating for those involved and their families.
‘Safe speeds are key to achieving the Vision Zero ambition and it’s vital that those driving or riding on our roads respect the law on speed limits. We will actively target speeding and dangerous drivers and ensure they are dealt with robustly.’
Central London roads to get 20mph limits
– Albert Embankment
– Lambeth Palace Road
– Lambeth Bridge
– Victoria Embankment
– Upper Thames Street
– Lower Thames Street
– Tower Hill
Aldgate gyratory including: Leman Street, Prescot Street, Mansell Street, Minories and Goodman’s Yard
– Borough High Street
– Great Dover Street
– Blackfriars Road
– Part of Druid Street (between Tower Bridge Road and Crucifix Lane)
– Crucifix Lane
– Part of Bermondsey Street (between Crucifix Lane and Tooley Street)
– Part of Queen Elizabeth Street (between Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Road)
Pictured: Victoria Embankment in central London will also be enforced with a 20mph speed limit from Monday
Borough High Street in south-east London (pictured) will also be affected by the mayor’s roll-out of a 20mph zones
Lower speed limits don’t always cut accident numbers, reports show
The decision to cut limits received mixed responses from industry insiders.
Joshua Harris from road safety charity Brake described the decision as ‘fantastic news’ and urged other authorities and central government to consider 20mph the ‘default for urban areas’.
However, the AA pointed out that TfL’s own figures show that the average speed reached by drivers in central London is only 7.4mph – and as a result would have little to no impact on reducing casualties.
Roger Lawson of the Alliance of British Drivers said the lowered limits would have a ‘negligible’ impact on road casualties but ‘make life more difficult for drivers and result in many more speeding fines as the police will be stepping up enforcement measures’.
He added: ‘This is one more step in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to deter people from using cars in London.
‘London is becoming a ghetto of anti-car fanatics. These proposals are being advocated in the name of road safety despite the fact that TfL refuse to give any estimates of the alleged benefits, probably because they know they will turn out to be false.
‘The proposals are likely to be an enormous waste of money and contribute further to TfL’s budget deficit.’
The London mayor tweeted about the plans to introduce a 20mph zone following the consultation in September
Critics will also point to a UK study that found there was no significant reduction in accidents in areas around the country where there was a 20mph limit.
Manchester City Council was forced to scrap a 20mph scheme that cost taxpayers £1.7million after it found that the reduced limit made no difference.
It was abandoned in 2017 – five years after it launched – when figures revealed average driving speeds in some trial areas had actually gone up.
Entering the London Congestion Charge Zone costs motorists £11.50 a day.
Drivers of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric cars are exempt from the fee currently.
However, those rules will be tightened from next year, when even PHEV users will need to pay the daily rate.
The congestion zone covers the same roads as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which is an additional £12.50 daily charge for drivers of non-compliant polluting cars.
ULEZ will be expanded from the congestion zone to the limits of the North and South Circular Road on 25 October 2021.
’20mph speed limits don’t reduce crash numbers’
Reducing speed limits to 20mph does has not reduced the number of car crashes across in residential areas across the UK, a government study in 2018 found.
There is insufficient evidence to support the idea that lower speed limits results in lower numbers of accidents, the 2018 research revealed.
It was commissioned by the government after the Department for Transport encouraged more local authorities to adopt the measures in 2013.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said at the time: ‘We need more variable speed limits linked to time of day. For example, in the US, most drivers slow down outside schools with flashing yellow lights, but not at 3am when there are no children around,’ he said.
‘The research suggests blanket 20mph zones dilute the speed limit’s effectiveness and compliance.’
Joshua Harris, the director of campaigns at the road safety charity Brake, added: ‘Breaking the speed limit is breaking the law and those who do so should be punished.
‘We must make a success of 20mph limits, but to do so we need more enforcement, which is delivered consistently across the country.’
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