Birmingham Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for 20mph speed limits to be adopted on all residential roads in the city for some time now. We believe that this will help in cutting CO2 emissions from transport, improve community cohesion and people’s health. More and more evidence is now being produced to back up this campaign.

Reducing speed limits to 20mph in residential areas is key to improving the health impacts of local transport, according to research ‘Health on the Move 2’.  Cutting speed limits from 30mph to 20mph has little impact on time. Dr Stephen Watkins, Chair of the Transport and Health Study Group, stated: “The difference between travelling two miles at 20mph and travelling it at 30mph is only two minutes”.  This idea is hoped to encourage walking and cycling, as opposed to the private car, as a means of transport. It is clalmed traffic in streets hinder social interaction, so by reducing speed limits it is anticipated community interaction will improve and people will have a great number of friends  in their community. This would create ‘living streets’, increasing community cohension, improving health, life expectancy, and creating new cycling route.

Transport has a number of postitive and negative impacts on our health. Transport can sometimes cause injuries, stress, pollution, carbon emission and noise but enables us to access goods, jobs and amenities. Walking and cycling have less damaging effects on the environment and can be an enjoyable activity. Transport can also have unequal impacts, often with gains with the better off using motorised transport, and adverse effects on the disadvantaged.

Rod King, Campaign Director of 20’s Plenty for Us said: “ This is just one of many recent reports on the health evidence in favour of 20mph limits. Slower speeds not only save lives, but also reduce injury and fear. They give us cleaner, quieter and better neighbourhoods. 20mph limits also help to build communities so that people of all ages, abilities and income levels have space to interact, to exercise, play and be part of a shared society complete with local friendships.” Overall the 20mph speed limit idea seems like a good one which will benefit many people, improve people’s health, build communities, encourage travel via walking or cycling and reduce the negative effects on the environment.