Is 20 mph plenty in Bath? Should B&NES remove 20mph limits?

Home News & Events Latest News Is 20 mph plenty in Bath? Should B&NES remove 20mph limits?


On Monday 22nd May B&NES Council’s Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel meets to review the 20 mph limits in B&NES which were largely introduced between 2012 and 2016 at a cost of almost £900,000.

Gill Risbridger of Transition Bath will be speaking at the event:

  • We feel that 20 mph zones are a good thing, they slow traffic down, and encourage more people to walk and cycle, particularly school children commuting to school.
  • 20 mph zones are a great way of persuading a modal shift in transport from cars to walking and cycling
  • Residents, from previous surveys are very enthusiastic about 20 mph zones

We are concerned that the council’s assessment is narrowly based on a very small sample of speed and accident statistics and appears to be ignoring the wishes of local residents. Our biggest concern is that this might be a precursor to the removal of all 20 mph zones in B&NES as way of a misplaced view in the council that it will reduce pollution, as advocated in the government’s recent air pollution consultation. It is also unclear from the report what its ultimate agenda is?

B&NES Council Assessment of 20 mph zones

The meeting’s agenda document outlines the reasoning for the review:

  • The council has been receiving complaints that drivers are not adhering to the speed limits
  • The Department of Transport guidance requires that such schemes should be ‘self-compliant’ – i.e. excessive enforcement should not be necessary; something which doesn’t seem to be working
  • Road humps are the most effective way of slowing traffic down, but these are incompatible with the government’s traffic pollution plan released this month which calls for their removal to speed traffic up and reduce vehicular air pollution

In B&NES assessment of the current zones, they state:

  • Since implementation speeds have reduced by only 1.3 mph
  • There has been a slight reduction in accidents in Bath, but an increase in rural areas; although because there are few accidents it’s difficult to draw strong conclusions

The report concludes:

  • There is little benefit in these schemes given their costs

Rod King of the 20’s Plenty for Us’s view on the B&NES report

Transition Bath’s Transport Group has been in correspondence with Rod King, an ex-resident of Bath, and director of the 20’s Plenty for Us campaign group asking for his critique of the B&NES report.

In an extensive article, he has written up his thoughts on the subject: , which is worth reading. His conclusions are:

  • B&NES have failed to assess the benefits to cyclists and pedestrians of the 20 mph zones
  • It’s not possible to draw conclusions from the limited statistics
  • B&NES appeared to have cherry-picked reports from other cities where the 20mph schemes have been less successful, and ignored schemes which have been successful
  • The analysis can’t really be completed until the council have 36 months of statistics

Rod concludes his commentary with this conclusion:

We believe that this BANES report fails the people of Bath and North East Somerset as well as their elected representatives because it inadequately assesses the impact and benefits of the 20mph roll out in the authority. It fails on several key counts :-

  • It does not recognise the low confidence levels in analysing small numbers.
  • It selectively quotes from guidance.
  • It does not provide a balanced analysis with many selective omissions.
  • It could be perceived to be biased in its recommendations and hence not compliant with local authority ethical standards
  • It makes no reference to the equality aspects of vehicle speeds for those with protected characteristics of age (children), gender (mothers who predominantly walk children to school) and the disabled. Hence it is not compliant with the Equalities Act 2010.
  • It advocates a change in policy on setting speed limits which arbitrarily “does not take full account of the needs of vulnerable road users” and is therefore contrary to DfT guidance.
  • It advocates a policy of only using 20mph limits for “short lengths around localised hazard” which is contrary to DfT guidance

We believe that B & NES members would “not be acting reasonably” if they were to infer anything from this BANES report. It should not be accepted