London cyclists could benefit from a 20mph speed limit under new plans.
Mayor Ken Livingstone announced plans for reduced limits across the UK capital at a press conference today.
Research has shown that 20mph zones cut accidents and injuries in half.
Now the capital’s 33 councils are being encouraged to launch lower limit safety zones, in a bid to get more people walking and cycling.
Mr Livingstone said: "Twenty miles per hour speed limits save lives and make our neighbourhoods better. These measures will build on what we have already done so that the quality of life in our local neighbourhoods is improved for everyone. I think if you can say 20mph zones without the road humps there won't be any opposition."
The London Cycling Campaign has been calling for a default 20mph speed limit for the capital, and today welcomed the news.
Koy Thomson, London Cycling Campaign’s Chief Executive, said “Making 20 mph the standard speed limit on London’s streets is top of LCC’s ten point Cycling Manifesto that we have put to all Mayoral candidates.
“A 20 mph default limit is essential to reduce road danger and promote cycling in London. Coupled with the return of one way systems and streets to two way operation, and small measures to give advantage to cyclists, this could have a significant role in getting people out of cars and onto cycles and reducing London’s carbon footprint.
“As well as support to the boroughs to implement their own 20 mph speed limits, we would hope that this announcement includes all the Mayor’s streets which are residential or have schools.”
Under current rules, London councils can only enforce 20mph limits in small areas, and road bumps and speed cameras must be installed at the same time. Consequently, only 12 per cent of the capital’s roads are 20mph.
Mr Livingstone’s proposal could reverse this picture, making the lower limit the default speed, with no need for costly extra measures.
Major roads will remain 30mph, but will have to be specifically allocated the higher speed.
Transport for London is currently setting up trials of wireless speed cameras which could enforce the new lower limit.
The mayor’s transport adviser and London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones, said: "Making 20mph the normal speed limit across whole boroughs in London will save lives, save money and give a major boost to cycling, as people would feel safer on their local roads. There would be some exemptions for main roads."
The London Cycling Campaign supported the plans, but called for all streets under mayoral control to be made 20mph.
The organization also wants an increase in the cycling budget to ensure the promised completion of the London Cycle Network Plus (LCN+) in all 33 boroughs, as well as commitment to new initiatives such as a Paris style mass cycle hire scheme by 2009, and new resources to encourage boroughs to accelerate their efforts to become cycle friendly.
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety says Britain's annual 3,100 road death toll would be cut by two-thirds to some 1,000 a year if all residential areas had 20mph limits.
The Transport Research Laboratory says 20mph limits can cut child road accidents by up to 67 per cent.