Speed limits

Borough-wide 20mph speed limit

20 mph signOn 16 December 2013 Camden implemented a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.

The purpose of the borough-wide speed limit is to improve road safety and give people greater confidence to walk and cycle. We want to change the way people think about speed and road safety in Camden and put out the message that 20 is plenty on our streets.

Speed is a factor in many road collisions and slower speed gives drivers more time to react and helps them avoid a collision. The outcome is also less severe. According the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), at 20mph there is a 2.5% chance of being fatally injured, compared to a 20% chance at 30mph.

Slower traffic speeds can also help to create more pleasant and liveable streets that are safer for people on bikes, on foot and in vehicles.
Camden has implemented a number of 20mph zones and limits, alongside other measures, to reduce the number of casualties on our roads. On average there has been a 54% reduction in collisions in 20mph zones in Camden, although many of these zones also include traffic calming (speed humps etc), and other safety measures such as new pedestrian crossings have also helped to contribute to this improvement in road safety.

The Council undertook a public consultation on the proposed new borough-wide limit between 11 February 2013 and 25 March 2013, and the results showed overwhelming support for the scheme by those who responded. The results of the consultation were reported to Cabinet on 24 July 2013 with a recommendation to implement the scheme and which Cabinet approved.

Much of the borough was already covered with 20 mph zones and limits, but it was agreed that a borough-wide limit, capturing all the remaining roads in one go, would be more cost effective than continuing with a programme of rolling out speed limits area by area. All existing 20 mph zones and limits will remain.

The Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) ‘red routes’ are not included in the new limit (other than a section of Camden High Street which is already 20 mph), although some red routes may be added over time, subject to ongoing discussions with Transport for London (TfL). 

Traffic calming

Most existing 20mph zones in Camden have traffic calming, such as speed humps, to help slow the traffic. Speed humps are very effective at slowing vehicle speeds and reducing accidents but are often not appropriate on main roads where there are several bus routes. Traffic calming is also not popular with all residents, as it can also cause noise pollution, when vehicles drive over speed humps too quickly.

The Department for Transport (DfT) recently changed the regulations for 20 mph schemes: there is no longer a requirement for traffic calming, so that it can now be used at the discretion of the highway authority, where it is considered appropriate.

Camden has not installed any new speed humps as part of the new borough-wide 20mph limit. However, traffic speeds across the borough will continue to be monitored and additional measures, which may include speed humps, may be considered at a later date to address locations where speed continues to be excessive.

Speed enforcement

Only the Metropolitan Police are legally able to carry out speed enforcement in London, including safety camera enforcement. Camden Council and the Met Police do not collect any revenue from speed enforcement; all revenue is collected by Central Government.

The Police will undertake targeted speed enforcement where there is evidence of persistent high end offenders. Drivers should be aware that 20 mph limits are enforced and those who choose to ignore them could be subject to a fine, penalty points on their driving licence, or in the worse cases, a custodial sentence for breaking the speed limit.

However, Police resources for speed limit enforcement are very limited and Camden is not relying on Police enforcement for this scheme to be successful. The Council will monitor traffic speeds across the whole borough will install targeted measures, which may include traffic calming, to increase the success of the scheme and compliance with the new limit. Requests for the Police to undertake speed limit enforcement will only be made by the Council when all other options for ensuring drivers adhere to the new limit have been exhausted.

You can find out more about Camden’s borough-wide 20mph speed limit in frequently asked questions (FAQs).


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