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Schools: Speed Limits

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether her Department has conducted research into the likely effect on the number of children and parents choosing to walk or cycle to school of the speed limit around their schools and homes being reduced to 20 miles per hour. (220008)

The Department has not carried out specific research on the impact that 20 mph zones would have on increasing walking and cycling. However, the hon. Member may be interested in our Links to Schools programme, which provides walking and cycling routes from residential areas to schools via the National Cycle Network. Our monitoring of these links shows twice as much cycling to school and 8 per cent. more walking to school. We have already spent over £18 million on this programme since 2005 linking up over 600 schools and plan to extend it to a further 500 schools by 2011.

The Department has commissioned a new research project on local road safety policy and practice, and information about the implementation of 20 mph zones will be collected from local authorities as part of this study.

This new project, titled “Local road safety evaluation and action learning” was commissioned in February 2008 and will take three years, with an interim report due in March 2009. The research is likely to include a survey of local authorities, which will cover 20 mph zones and other local road safety issues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of implementing 20 mph zones in the vicinity of (a) nurseries and (b) schools. (220137)

There has been no assessment of the effectiveness of 20 mph zones specifically in the vicinity of nurseries and schools. However, the Transport Research Laboratory conducted two reviews of 20 mph zones in 1996 and again in 1998.

The 1996 review found that 20 mph zones which incorporated traffic calming measures achieved an average 9 mph reduction in vehicle speeds, annual accident frequency fell by 60 per cent. and overall reduction in child accidents of 67 per cent.

The 1998 review looked at wider issues in terms of vehicle speeds and included 20 mph zones and 20 mph limits where there was lesser or no traffic calming. This found reductions in vehicle speeds were minimal without traffic calming.

The Department has however recently commissioned a new research project on local road safety policy and practice, and information about the implementation of 20 mph zones will be collected from local authorities as part of this study.