20mph speed limit in residential areas could encourage active travel, says Muir

Alliance North Down MLA and Chair of the All Party Group on Cycling Andrew Muir has called for a restored Executive to consider the merits of 20mph speed limits in residential areas, such as reduced traffic collisions and further uptake of active travel. His comments coincide with the beginning of Road Safety Week, which is marked from 19-25 November.

Andrew Muir

In September, Wales became the first region in the UK to lower the speed limit to 20mph in built-up areas. The All Party Group on Cycling heard from a panel on the lower speed limit on Thursday 26 October, which included the Welsh Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters MS.


It would be prudent for any future minister to watch how these changes to the speed limit in Wales in certain areas develop over time and consider a focused pilot in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Muir.


In the meantime, the Cycling APG is exploring, among other policies, how reducing the speed limit to 20mph in residential areas by default could increase the uptake and safety of cycling. As we move towards a net-zero society, we are going to have to encourage people out of their cars and to get more active. In this regard, cycling is a win-win for both our environment and our health.


“During Road Safety Week, it is worth noting that a 20mph limit in residential areas could help reduce collisions by 40%, and if a person or cyclist is hit at this speed, they are five times less likely to be killed. Not only is this a life-saving policy, it will make people feel safer and encourage more people to take up active travel in built-up areas. We should have a restored Executive considering these merits by trialling the 20mph policy and also giving councils the power to reduce speed limits.


I understand there will be concerns from motorists. However, as a society, we need to be less car-reliant going forward and 30mph would remain an option where it is safe to do so. It’s long since time we had a stable, restored government that is looking to best practice across these islands and legislating for the people of Northern Ireland accordingly.”