Birmingham City Council has recently introduced plans to install a 20mph speed limit across the city’s residential roads. The proposal would see 90% of the city roads covered by a 20mph speed limit and cost £7m to fully implement over the course of five to seven years. The project would be funded through the Local Transport Plan.
The council had initiated a consultation process that will run until the end of November, inviting input and opinions on the plans. Some representatives from the haulier industry have criticised the plans as unnecessary.
Birmingham council claims the cost of the scheme will pay for itself through the reduced number of road accidents which currently cost the city around £5m per year. Tahir Ali, a Birmingham city councillor, said, “By reducing speeds we can reduce the number of of accidents on our roads.”. The council also hopes that the speed limits will encourage more people to commute and travel around the city on bike or foot.
Reactions to the plans from industry experts has been mixed – some considering the plans and excessive, and others suggesting the speed limit will have little impact on operations. Nick Payne, regional director for the midlands and western region for the Road Haulage Association, said, “While we welcome anything that encourages safety along residential streets, very few of our members would ever be travelling down them in articulated lorries, so it’s unlikely to have much impact.”.
However, some local businesses feel that the plans will affect trade. Phil Benton, managing director of Benton’s Haulage in Coleshill suggested the council’s plans fell in line with what he perceived to be a move towards a total ban on road freight deliveries in city centres, and that little though had gone into how the volume of deliveries demanded by local businesses would be met. Benton said, “I think it’s overkill. The average traffic speed in Birmingham [especially on the high street] means a 20mph limit isn’t really needed. However, the area does have a problem with youngsters street racing, so it’s a case of the rest of us are getting penalised on behalf of a few.”.
The plans were always likely to split opinion but the success or failure of the scheme is likely to have an impact on cities up and down the UK.