Avoiding the problem? How Sheffield’s 20mph zones exclude our most dangerous roads

Sheffield street with 30 sign in foreground and 20 sign in next street with cars passing between

If they don’t cover streets with the most crashes, are they as much use as they need to be?

Sheffield has been using 20mph speed limits for longer than anywhere in the UK. We had the first one when they were first introduced in 1991, in Tinsley.

Since then various residential streets across Sheffield have been given this speed limit.

20mph speed limits lead to fewer injuries and deaths, less pollution, more walking and cycling, lower fuel use and lower motoring insurance costs.

But there are always streets which are excluded, and kept at higher speed limits of 30mph or more.

By overlaying the locations of historic injuries and deaths on our streets (orange, red and black dots), with the zones of intended 20mph limits (these maps are ones planned in 2019), we may see a troubling pattern. Are the most dots inside or outside the 20mph zones? If we want to reduce injuries and deaths then are these plans excluding the very places where these happen most?

The more fragmented our 20mph areas are the more signs and posts we have littering our pavements, the more complicated it is for people driving to know whether they are on a 20 street or a 30 street, and this may be leading to even the sections we do have being less effective.

To be more effective, should Sheffield follow the example of Edinburgh, Amsterdam and other cities with a more comprehensive 20mph limit? Wales has gone further and set the default for all built up areas (which still has exceptions, though these are more limited in most places than what we see in Sheffield’s 20mph schemes)?

Maybe even ask (whisper it…): do we need traffic going more than 20mph anywhere in Sheffield?


London Road


Spink Hall

One thought on “Avoiding the problem? How Sheffield’s 20mph zones exclude our most dangerous roads

  1. We seem to be ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room here, which is that there is zero enforcement of 20mph roads/zones with the inevitable consequence that motorists take no notice of the speed limit – 20mph or otherwise.

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