Assembly Member calls for blanket 20mph speed limit

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A blanket 20mph speed limit in cities would keep children safe as they walk and cycle to school during the coronavirus pandemic, a London Assembly member has said.

Green member Caroline Russell said the Government should lower the speed limit in the capital to keep youngsters safer on busy roads.

To help social-distancing on public transport ministers and the Mayor of London want more children to walk or cycle to school.

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries told nervous parents that traffic was a bigger risk to kids than coronavirus.

London’s biggest arterial roads are controlled by Transport for London (TfL), which introduced a blanket 20mph limit shortly before lockdown as part of a longterm plan to reduce crashes.

But most roads in the city are controlled by councils – while some, like Islington and Wandsworth, have brought in their own borough-wide 20mph limit, most use the standard 30mph limit with 20mph zones in danger spots.

Ms Russell has now written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, highlighting these comments and calling on him to drop the speed limit.

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Failing to make walking routes safe could push children into cars, clogging up roads during morning rush hour, she warned.

“Fast traffic makes crossing main roads harder and can mean even roads with little traffic are unpleasant to cycle on,” Ms Russell said.

“Moving our default urban speed limit down to 20mph is a simple change with enormous impact that Grant Shapps can make tomorrow.”

Though car use fell during lockdown, traffic in the capital was back to 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by July, according to the Centre for London.

And the Local Democracy Service previously reported that extreme speeding on London roads had trebled during the Covid-19 outbreak.

A spokesperson for the Government said there are no plans for a blanket 20mph speed limit in cities, but it is “essential” that children can get to school safety.

“London is benefitting from £5.8 million of funding dedicated to home-to-school transport for pupils in the capital, in addition to £5 million we have given towards encouraging cycling and walking as an alternative to taking the bus,” they said.

“This is alongside an extensive communications campaign highlighting how pupils can travel to school safely.”

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