20 mph zones – Why are we doing it?

20mphKasia from our Highways and Transportation team explains what we’re doing on the city’s roads to make it safer for children and young people to make their journeys round Leeds.

In simple terms, we’re fulfilling one of the 12 wishes that children and young people said would make a child friendly Leeds – that Children and young people can make safe journeys and easily travel around the city.

School travel surveys show that most children would like to walk and cycle to school, but the majority feel they cannot. The fear of traffic is often given as the reason.

Around a quarter of all road traffic injuries to children happen on the school journey but only 10% happen directly outside the school. To make journeys to school safer for everyone, and the residential streets more pleasant to live, walk, cycle and enjoy, we are gradually rolling out a programme of 20 mph speed limits in residential areas around Leeds schools.

How can lower speeds help?
Lower speeds reduce the risk of injury and death. 97% of pedestrians hit by a car at 20 mph live, and the risk of death goes down by 6% with every mile speed reduction. The risk of death to children at 30 mph is higher than for adults – still around 50%.

20 mph speed limits make residential streets safer for all. In those areas of the city where 20 mph speed limits have been introduced, there was on average a 43% reduction in accidents. The number of accidents involving child pedestrians has halved.

What next?
The next 18 months or so will see a substantial increase in the areas covered by a 20 mph speed limit – by about 23km2. Various areas of Leeds already have the lower, more child friendly 20 mph speed limit, excluding major roads. This year they will be joined by Middleton and Belle Isle, West and East Ardsley, Thorpe, Meanwood, Allerton Bywater, Garforth and, hopefully, Roundhay. The new City Connect cycle superhighway will also have an ‘envelope’ of 20 mph speed limits.

We hope that 20 mph speed limits will encourage more people in these areas to walk and cycle. It will be easier to cross the road for pedestrians, especially children and slower moving traffic is less intimidating for cyclists.

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