Conall McDevitt (SDLP MLA) launched a consultation regarding the introduction of 20mph speed restrictions in residential streets as part of his bid to introduce legislation through a Private Members Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The purpose of the Bill is to increase road safety, particularly for pedestrians and other road users, with additional health and environmental benefits.
IPH submitted a response to thePrivate Members’ Bill regarding the introduction of 20mph speed restriction on smaller residential roads. IPH recognises the potential public health benefits of this proposal in terms of reduced injuries and fatalities in built up areas; more opportunities for walking and cycling (helping to tackle obesity and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke); greater social cohesion among communities and improved mental health; and reduced emissions that contribute to climate change, air and noise pollution.
Key points from IPH response
IPH recognises the significant public health benefit of introducing 20mph speed restrictions in residential streets, in terms of reducing the number of injuries and fatalities as a result of road traffic accidents.
Excessive speed determines the severity and outcome of road traffic collisions and so it is necessary to address this issue in urban residential areas to ensure safer communities for residents (particularly children), pedestrians and cyclists.
IPH welcomes the introduction of 20mph speed limits as an effective first step in reducing injury and death as a result of road traffic accidents in residential areas. IPH would support further exploration of 20mph zones, but recognises the cost attached to implementing the physical measures required to create 20mph zones.
There are a number of potential health benefits arising from the introduction of a 20mph speed limit in residential areas:
- Increased safety for residents, pedestrians and cyclists, with the potential to reduce injuries and fatalities in built up areas;
- Slower vehicle speeds resulting in perceived and actual changes to the built environment, which generate opportunities for, and up take of walking and cycling;
- Increased physical activity to help tackle obesity, reduce the risk of chronic conditions and improve cardiovascular health;
- Improved social cohesion among communities and improved mental health and wellbeing; and
- Reduced emissions that contribute to climate change, air and noise pollution.
IPH considers that the introduction of a 20mph speed limit in residential areas is one of a range of measures needed to address consistency in speeds and to support drivers to drive at safer speeds.
IPH believes it is necessary to consider the impact of the proposed legislation in terms of reducing inequalities in health. In this regard, a Health Impact Assessment could be used to support the consultation process and provide opportunities for stakeholders to present their views.