Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters has confirmed that reducing the national default speed limit in residential areas and busy pedestrian streets from 30mph to 20mph will form part of the Welsh Government's legislative priorities for this year.
If passed, Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce the change which, the Welsh Government say, "will play an instrumental role in helping to save lives, protect our communities and improve quality of life for everyone."
The first phase of this change will be rolled out in eight communities across Wales this year in order to gather data and develop a best practice approach before the proposed full rollout in 2023. As part of this approach, the Welsh Government has today launched a consultation for people to have their say on the change before the necessary legislation is laid. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will come to an end on 30 September.
Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters said of the proposed change:
“Making 20mph the default speed limit on busy pedestrian streets and in residential areas across Wales is a bold step that brings about significant benefits.
“Not only does it save lives, but it also helps to make our streets a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, has a positive outcome for our physical and mental wellbeing and with fewer vehicles on the road helps create a positive impact on the environment.
“We know this move won’t be easy – it’s as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about hard enforcement – but over time 20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag change, smoking inside businesses and organ donation.”
St Brides Major, here in the Vale of Glamorgan, is one of the areas taking part in the first phase. Teachers and pupils from the local primary school have welcomed the move and have played an active part in the rollout.
Headteacher of St Brides Major Church in Wales Primary School, Duncan Mottram, said:
“Both the school and local community are delighted to be playing such a prominent role in this exciting initiative. Reducing the speed limit on our roads will make them safer and also help to promote alternative, greener forms of transport like walking and cycling.
“Pupils have been involved in this project from the start, taking part in a competition to design road signs that appear around the village, while a local residents’ group has also made their support clear from the outset.
“We are proud to be one of the pilot schemes for this new lower speed limit and we look forward to it being rolled out across the country.”
The eight areas chosen are intended to be a representative sample of different locations found across Wales, including villages, towns and cities. These include the aforementioned St Brides, central north Cardiff, St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire and Monmouthshire's Severnside.