Will a borough-wide 20mph speed limit work?


Will motorists self-regulate themselves on the issue of speeding?

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Islington Council is set to become the first council in the UK to introduce 20mph limits on its roads.

I am told the vote on Thursday night is a formality, as the proposal has cross-party support.

In producing my report, I was surprised by the reaction of the many I interviewed.

A "white van man" said he liked the idea, while a pensioner I spoke to said the 20mph limit is too slow.

The main issue is that it relies on drivers themselves sticking to the new limit to smooth traffic flow.

Some would argue there is not much change there, as on most roads the speed limit is rarely enforced by police.


Traffic cameras do work for slowing cars at some points, but many drivers simply speed up afterwards.

What speed limits rely on are drivers' conscience and the preventative power of the risk of getting caught.

As the opening sequence of the video shows, drivers on main roads like Caledonian Road do not stick to the 30mph limit as it is.

We filmed 15 vehicles including a bus, a post van and numerous cars which, according to a flashing speed warning sign, were breaking the limit.

The police and the council are hoping "self-enforcement" and education change attitudes towards speed.

They want it to have the same stigma as drinking and driving now does compared to 20 years ago.

So will it work?

Tom Edwards, Transport correspondent, London Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This should be rolled out everywhere in London.

    Drivers are generally wary of going more than 10mph over the speed limits.

    In 30mph zones, most people drive at 40.

    In 20mph zones, they will usually drive at 30.

    A roll-out of 20mph is at least a way to make the 30mph limit work...

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    This is a great way of inciting more contempt for traffic laws. 20mph may be appropriate for some narrow roads, but imposing them borough wide is a waste of money, and utterly clueless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    speed limits are and still will be ignored.
    the fact is the speed limits have not been enforced propperly for a while now, we've all gotten away with it for so long that its become second nature to do so and this news story is just highlighting another waste of money on a plan that will fail.
    What is needed is a police force that actualy enforces the law for once.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I live in a 20 mph zone in Lambeth. The limit is definitely more honoured in the breach than in the observance because the signs indicating the limit are tiny and only at the edge of the zone, but mostly because there's absolutely no enforcement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Because the police won't enforce the limit, I guess us Islington motorists will have to put up with even more humps which punish those who would drive at the limit as much as those who wouldn't. And as a cyclist too, I look forward to even more dangerous "traffic calming" road narrowings and vans weaving around speed bumps. And as a bus user, more spine-jarring journeys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Islington is so full of speed bumps it's impossible to go more than 20 even at the moment. Most of the main roads in Islington are under the control of Transport for London and so won't be rated at 20mph.
    All this is going to do is to make Islington even less attractive to businesses and waste out Council Tax on new signs. Shame on the Council

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    'We filmed 15 vehicles including a bus, a post van and numerous cars which, according to a flashing speed warning sign, were breaking the limit.'
    For reference, those speed warning signs are not accurate and (based on my GPS-calibrated speedometer) usually start flashing at 27mph in 30 zones.


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