Welsh parliament votes for 20mph default


The Welsh Senedd has approved legislation to lower the default national speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets in the country from 30mph to 20mph.

Wales is the first UK nation to make the change, which it said would help save lives, develop safer communities, improve quality of life and encourage more people to make more sustainable and active travel choices.

Minister for climate change Julie James said: ‘I am delighted that the move to 20mph has received cross-party support across the Welsh Parliament today.

‘The evidence is clear, decreasing speeds not only reduces accidents and saves lives, but helps improve people’s quality of life - making our streets and communities a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, whilst helping reduce our environmental impact.’

The new speed limits are currently being trialled in eight communities across Wales and will be rolled out nationally in September 2023.

The Welsh Government said the new legislation will not apply a blanket speed limit on all roads, but would make the default limit 20mph, leaving local authorities to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.

Currently, just 2.5% of Welsh roads have a speed limit of 20mph, but officials said that from next year this is expected to increase to approximately 35%.

Ms James added: ‘We know this move won’t be easy – it’s as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about enforcement – but over time 20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag charges and organ donation.

‘Once again Wales is leading the way for other UK nations to follow.’

Cycling UK’s engagement officer in Wales, Gwenda Owen, said: 'This is a huge leap forward for Wales - the lower speed limit will help create more liveable neighbourhoods and town centres, building community cohesion by encouraging more cycling and walking.

'Studies also show this can benefit local businesses, as people feel safer and more confident exploring their local area on foot or two wheels.'

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