Today sees the introduction of a principality-wide 20 mph speed limit in urban areas in Wales. What a grest idea! I live in an area – Calderdale in West Yorkshire – where 20 mph zones have been introduced gradually over the past few years and whenever I drive through one, I respect it, sticking to 20 mph. It’s not difficult. I don’t spend any more time looking at my speedometer compared to when I’m driving along a 30, 40 etc… mph road. I’ve never been late for an appointment or work by sticking to 20 mph. I don’t rev my engine excessively. When I’m cycling, I stick to the limit, even when heading down the nearby hill. My life is only affected in positive ways by my local 20 mph zones. I’m a more relaxed driver and, when I walk or cycle along the roads, I feel that the traffic has been calmed, to some extent at least.
This is all very strange as earlier this week, following a report on BBC Breakfast about the introduction of the Welsh speed limit, I posted a supportive message on X (formerly known as Twitter) and it seems that some people don’t possess my ability to respect the speed limit. Indeed some of them seem quite angry…
Here are some of the less supportive messages received in response (my comments continue after the tweeted rants…):
Although not exclusively, it’s interesting to note that these people are predominantly male and, where identifiable, of a certain age. Where arguments are put forward they are demonstrably incorrect. Abuse is, of course, commonplace (as, presumably, the person tweeting has no counter argument to offer).
It’s also interesting to note how many people conflate this with other road issues. Cyclists ‘breaking the speed limit’ for example and killing pedestrians. There is no speed limit for non-motorised traffic. I can only assume that this is because bikes are rarely able to pick up enough speed to break the speed limit and that we don’t carry speedometers. Although some cyclists will pose a danger at high speeds, the impact of a bicycle at high speed is somewhat less than the impact of even a small car, let alone a truck. The isolated examples. of pedestrians being killed by cyclists are somehow cited as mitigation when over 1,600 people were killed on our roads in 2022. (Click here for a full breakdown of statistics.) And then there’s the trope of cyclists going through red lights. Yawn… It is almost as if cyclists are a group of people immune from breaking the rules of the road. (I see far more cars driving through red lights than I do bicycles and condemn the latter group just as much as the former.)
X / Twitter is perhaps not the best place to judge wider public opinion. The abusive loud mouths cited above may make the ‘noise’ but they don’t win the argument (how could they with their abuse and their simplistic memes and gifs?). Here are a selection of more supportive responses:
And here’s a message from Cycling UK making things clear:
20 is indeed plenty. Middle-aged man? Please get over it…
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