Five London boroughs are reducing the speed limit to 20mph

If you regularly drive through Camden, Islington, Hackney, Haringey or Tower Hamlets, as of the start of April 2023, you’re going to have to slow down.

The five London boroughs have been targeted by Transport for London as part of a capital-wide initiative to reduce speed on the road for cars to 20mph in order to make the capital’s highways safer. The initiative, developed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan is the Vision Zero policy which aims to see no one killed or seriously injured on our roads by 2041.

The policy is based on reports that speed was a factor in 48 percent of fatal collisions in London in 2020. Extensive data demonstrates that the faster a vehicle is travelling, the more likely it is that a collision will occur because the driver has less time to react, stop or avoid the danger, which increases the likelihood that any injuries will be more severe as a result. The stats are eye-opening: for example, if you hit someone at 30mph they’re five times more likely to die than if you hit them at 20 mph.

Three years ago, just as we entered lockdown part one, TfL introduced a 20mph speed limit on its roads in central London. The next phase sees the speed limit lowered by 10mph along 20 miles of roads in the five selected boroughs which will be closely monitored over the next few months, with the aim that it is extended to a further 70 miles in London by May 2024. 

Now 20mph is not actually that fast. For comparison, a good, but not elite, sprinter can run at that speed. Usain Bolt was reaching speeds of 28mph in his pomp, so 20mph is an amble for him. Cheetahs and ostriches can run at 70 mph but only for short distances, so your best bet if you need to get somewhere in a hurry, is either a) cycling, or b) a skateboard harnessed to a cheetah that keeps to the pavements.

Too slow? All hail the Superloop, outer London’s speedy new bus network.

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