The Welsh Government has confirmed plans to reduce the national default speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets as one of its legislative priorities for the year.
If the legislation is passed, Wales will be the first country in the UK to change to the lower limit, with full implementation planned for 2023.
Officials said the first phase is a roll-out in eight communities across Wales this year to gather data and develop a best practice approach.
As part of this approach, the Welsh Government has launched a consultation for people to have their say on the change before the necessary legislation is laid. The 12-week consultation will run until 30 September.
Deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters acknowledge that the change will not be easy, describing it as ‘as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about hard enforcement’. But, he said that over time ‘20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag change, smoking inside businesses and organ donation’.
He said: ‘Making 20mph the default speed limit on busy pedestrian streets and in residential areas across Wales is a bold step that brings about significant benefits.
‘Not only does it save lives, but it also helps to make our streets a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, has a positive outcome for our physical and mental wellbeing and with fewer vehicles on the road helps create a positive impact on the environment.’
The village St Brides Major in the Vale of Glamorgan (pictured) is one of the areas taking part in the first phase.
Duncan Mottram, headteacher of St Brides Major Church in Wales Primary School, said: ‘Both the school and local community are delighted to be playing such a prominent role in this exciting initiative. Reducing the speed limit on our roads will make them safer and also help to promote alternative, greener forms of transport like walking and cycling.
‘Pupils have been involved in this project from the start, taking part in a competition to design road signs that appear around the village, while a local residents’ group has also made their support clear from the outset.’