Birmingham City Council are currently consulting on 20mph speed limits for Birmingham. This scheme would make all residential roads in Birmingham 20mph, as well as parts of main arterial routes which pass through shopping areas or in front of schools. Once the proposals have been implemented, around 90% of Birmingham’s roads will have speed limits of 20mph. Suburban centres like Kings Heath High Street aside, main roads would not be affected by the changes, and for the most part will continue to have speed limits of 30mph or 40mph.
The proposals would be funded by a variety of sources. Some of it would come from the money the Council received from the Cycle City Ambition Grant. Some of it could be funded locally, for example, making the roads in a particular area 20mph could come out of money allocated to those particular wards or districts. There may also be other money available from the transport budget, and the Council says it will look for further sources of funding.
These proposals come from a motion passed at full council last year, saying that Birmingham City Council were in favour of 20mph limits on residential roads (for which BFoE presented the council with a giant 20mph Christmas Card). 20mph makes our streets safer for all of us, reducing accidents, making them more pleasant for children to play in, safer for vulnerable road users, and generally more pleasant to live on.
Linking to our Let’s Get Moving campaign, 20mph also makes roads more appealing for people to walk and cycle, encouraging more people to use active transport and leave the car at home, thereby reducing air pollution. Vehicles at lower speeds generally move at more constant speeds, reducing the need for breaking and acceleration, thereby also reducing air pollution from tail-pipe emissions and from braking.
Now that the consultation has come out, it’s crucial that as many of those who support the proposals respond as possible. The proposals need to be seen to have widespread support otherwise they wont happen. The scheme is not without its flaws. It could be argued that 7 years is a long time to roll-out 20mph and the danger is in the meantime that it is a bit of a hotchpotch. It’s also not clear what happens if the consultation does come back negative and if the Council Cabinet will then put the proposals on the shelf. Is this a consultation on how to do 20s plenty or whether to do 20s plenty?
However whatever the flaws, Birmingham Friends of the Earth believe this is a great step forward, and that as many people as possible should respond saying that 20 is plenty in the city in which we all live!