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Is 20 plenty?

Most ideas for laws (Bills) are introduced to the Assembly by Ministers in the Executive but sometimes individual MLAs feel strongly enough about a particular issue to propose a Bill.

MLA, Conall McDevitt, is campaigning to reduce the speed limit on residential and urban roads from 30mph to 20mph and is planning to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to the Assembly. If the Bill is passed then many streets will have their speed limits reduced to 20mph. 

He believes that reducing the speed limit on some of our roads would ensure fewer accidents and deaths on our streets, as well as improving peoples’ health, through encouraging more people to walk and cycle for short, every day journeys.

Research from the Department for Transport found that if a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle travelling at 20mph, there is a 97.5% chance of surviving, whereas if a pedestrian is hit by a car travelling at 30mph, there is about 80% chance of survival.

The idea of a 20mph limit has been tried in some cities in England and there is mixed opinion on the reduced limit. Speaking against the introduction of 20mph zones in Warrington, Councillor Paul Kennedy said: "In these very difficult financial times, few people can honestly justify spending £750,000 to roll out a 20mph speed limit across Warrington.”

He claims that most motorists apply common sense and already drive at a safe speed without the need for a 20mph speed limit. 

Oxford cyclist, Kevin Hickman, believes that the lower limit is appropriate but the police need to enforce it. He said: “The county council, to its credit, has introduced it in Oxford and now we just need the police to do their job and actually enforce what most people want.” The police confirmed that they had not ticketed anyone for breaking the 20mph limit since its introduction.

So what do you think? Would a 20mph speed limit mean safer streets and better public health in Northern Ireland? How would the law be enforced? Can we afford the costs? The debate is on!

You can contribute to the debate at http://kwiksurveys.com?u=20mph_Consultation where Conall is running an online consultation.