20mph speed limits


We are reviewing how we deliver 20mph on more roads across Cornwall. This applies to roads which currently have a 30mph speed limit. An early phase of delivery (referred to as Phase 1) has been implemented. The results of this will inform future phases. Agreement to deliver 20mph across Cornwall requires Cabinet approval. A report to Cabinet is programmed for March 2023. Work to develop the programme for the remainder of Cornwall is now underway.

This page will be updated periodically. Please see information below on current progress to help to answer your queries.

Phase 1 20mph Rollout Delivered

Phase 1 of area wide 20mph application has been delivered across the following community network areas:

  • Camelford
  • Falmouth and Penryn

Proposals went out to public consultation during March/April 2022. We had a positive outcome from each of these with:

  • 76% in support in Falmouth-Penryn
  • 86% in support within Camelford

We reviewed all existing 30mph speed limits, with the majority reduced to 20mph.  We selected these community network areas for many reasons.  This includes (but not limited to):

  • Deliverability within required timescales
  • Building on existing or advancing 20mph provision, closing gaps
  • Mix of built up areas, towns and rural villages, providing optimal monitoring opportunities
  • Synergy with other investment

Work on the ground to deliver 20mph in the following areas is now complete:

Camelford

  • Camelford
  • St Breward
  • St Teath
  • Delabole
  • Tintagel Forrabury and Minster
  • Warbstow
  • Tresmeer
  • St Juliot
  • Otterham

Falmouth and Penryn

  • Falmouth, Penryn, Perranarworthal, Budock, Mawnan and Mabe

The following areas are largely covered by 20mph:

  • Mylor/Flushing
  • Ponsanooth
  • Constantine

Some additional areas have also been reduced to 20mph.

If you are interested in other Cornwall Council consultations in your area you can access via the consultation finder.

Other Committed 20mph Schemes

There are other 20mph schemes advancing. The majority of these are through the Community Network Highway Scheme (CNHS) programme. We recognise communities want to see 20mph delivered as early as possible. Delivery of a countywide programme is subject to Cabinet approval. This change will not happen overnight. Delivery will take a number of years, once approved.

20mph speed limits can still be nominated through the CNHS for early delivery. These will be designed in accordance with the design criteria developed. This will ensure consistency of application across Cornwall. 

Future Phases

We appreciate the disappointment for areas not in Phase 1. Please know that every area in Cornwall is important to us. Work is continuing to develop what a countywide programme will look like and reflect on:

  • Impact of Phase 1, considering tweaks for future phases
  • Lessons learned
  • Timescale and cost for implementation

Outcomes will be presented back to EG&D OSC in January 2023, with the aim to take recommendations to Cabinet in March 2023. Once Cabinet approved, a programme showing order of delivery will be published here. 

It is not possible to answer questions about what areas will come forward next or in what order. Your understanding during this time is appreciated.  General enquiries can be emailed to connectingcornwall@cornwall.gov.uk.

Where 20mph might not be introduced

The 6th United Nations Global Road Safety Week (May 2021) called for policymakers to use low speed streets worldwide. This involves limiting speeds to 20mph where people walk, live and play. The benefits being that streets would be safer, healthy, green and liveable.

We are reviewing all roads with 30mph with the intention to reduce to 20mph.  Urban areas with high pedestrian and cyclist movements will be higher priority. This could include areas around schools, shops, markets, playgrounds.

For some roads, it may be appropriate to retain 30mph or deliver a more focused 20mph section. This will be a considered decision, based on local circumstances. Exceptions will generally be major roads and where vehicles are the primary function.

An exceptions process has been developed to help support this process. This will be applied consistently to any 20mph scheme, regardless of how it is funded. Design consistency is critical. 

Speed Limits 40mph and Above

Speed limits higher than 30mph will not qualify for 20mph. We appreciate that communities with speed limits of 40mph or above, may face difficulties. There may be opportunities to improve the local environment through other initiatives. These will be subject to securing funding.

Police Enforcement

Devon and Cornwall Police can and will enforce 20mph speed limits. This will be targeted based on evidence. We must not rely on legal enforcement as the only means to drive compliance. Road safety is something all road users have responsibility for. Road user respect and driver behaviour is crucial.

Cornwall Council will work with the Police during Phase 1 and beyond. Enforcement will be deployed for consistent high levels of non-compliance and risk to health (injury).

Whether you live in a 20mph or travel through 20mph, we ask you to respect those limits in place.

Community Support

There are many ways that communities can help to be the local eyes on the ground through initiatives such as:

  • Community Speedwatch - this site tells you more about the scheme and how to get involved
  • Operation Snap - you can provide photographic or video evidence of driving incidents on this website    

Communications and Engagement Strategy

A comprehensive engagement and communications plan will support this work. This will communicate the negative impacts of speeding in residential areas.  This will set out the scheme’s rationale, objectives and outcomes. Local acceptance and behaviour change is the key.

Communities can support us spreading important messages through local newsletters or social media. Community support has proven integral to the successful implementation of 20mph sites elsewhere.

A good community support network will change behaviours and attitudes towards traffic speeds. This will increase the likelihood limits become self-enforcing. This means minimal police intervention or the installation of physical engineering measures.

Local communities can help enforce low-level speed breaches through campaigns. This ensures the longevity of a successful scheme and increased speed compliance.

Statutory Consultation

Statutory consultation will be undertaken for each phase of delivery.

Wider communication and engagement will continue. This will be for the remaining community network areas to have 20mph as the default if approved.  Continuous messages to reinforce 'slower is safer' is important.  Over time this will help greater understanding and compliance.

20mph Signage

How schemes are signed, follow national Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions. Additional guidance is provided within the Traffic Signs Manual. Within Phase 1, we have used two different sign sizes as per the guidance. The larger 600mm 20mph roundel should be used at the terminal (entry/exit) location of each speed limit. The smaller 300mm roundel sign can be placed every 200m to serve as a reminder. Whilst we appreciate the smaller signs are sometimes missed, it is not recommended to use larger signs throughout. 

To accompany signage, we have at certain locations used a 20mph painted road roundel at entry points. 

Case for 20mph across Cornwall

Research provides a case for introducing 20mph limits. There is a strong link between traffic speed and the number of collisions and severity of injuries. Chances of survival struck at 20mph are much greater than 30mph.

Residential roads and built-up areas should be 20mph. 20mph provide many road safety, social and environmental benefits. Slower speeds help to promote liveable streets and encourage active travel.  This will support Cornwall’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030. Benefits to our customers and communities include:

  • Making our streets safer. This will reduce casualties and community inequality
  • Increasing child and adult activity levels. This will improve health and wellbeing
  • Providing a safe environment. This will encourage more people to walk and cycle
  • Supporting climate change declaration. This will include lower emissions and tackling congestion
  • Creating a stronger sense of place

The most effective way to improve pedestrian safety is to reduce the speed of vehicles.  This is according to The World Health Organisation.  Between 2017-2021, speed was a contributory factor in 980 collisions in Cornwall. This resulted in 1483 casualties (all severities). Sadly, this involved 39 fatalities of which 4 were pedestrians, 2 of these within a 30mph limit. A further 275 resulted in serious injuries. This involved 7 pedestrians and 7 cyclists, all within a 30mph. 

Supporting Traffic Calming

We will not be applying traditional traffic calming. This is due to the significant levels of funding this would need. Phase 1 will include legal signage with low-cost gateway features, where required. In most cases, this will be a painted roundel on the road. Transition into a community needs to be clear to drivers.

We need communities to work with us through initiatives such as:

  • Community speed watch
  • Op snap
  • Deployment of mobile speed signs

This will be supported by a marketing strategy. This will deliver the message that 'Life's Better at 20mph; it's Safer, Greener, Healthier too'. This messaging is already in communities where Phase 1 is delivered. 

Impact on Congestion and Air Quality

We do not believe that a 20mph speed limit will increase congestion or vehicles driving on the road. In fact, traffic may flow more steadily. Making communities safer to walk or cycle may reduce vehicle journeys.

There is little evidence to suggest that reducing vehicle speeds to 20mph increases pollution. It is not as straightforward as more time driving equals more pollution. Driving styles, acceleration, braking are all factors. The following also when combined can affect the level of pollution:

  • vehicle condition
  • distance travelled
  • engine temperature

Future Transport Research investigated the effect of maximum vehicle speed, driving style and vehicle size on average journey speeds, CO2 and NOx emissions and fuel efficiency in typical urban traffic (London). 

It was found that higher peak vehicle speeds, controlled via model simulated speed limits, adversely affected CO2 and NOx emissions, whilst having only a small effect of total journey times. The impact of different driving styles, vehicle size, and fuel type were also investigated and found to impact the results. 

The effect of maximum speed on CO2 and NOx emissions were substantial. The emissions were dominated by the energy required to accelerate the vehicle in stop-start traffic. This contrasts to many of the accepted models in the literature, which exclude the effect of stop-start traffic and consider only the 'cruise' portion of the journey. 

For the modelled Ford Focus EcoBoost petrol hatchback, CO2 emissions at a speed of 30mph were found to be 22.3% greater than at a speed limit of 20mph. For the modelled BMW X5 diesel SUV, CO2 emissions are 37.8% higher at a speed limit of 30mph than at 20mph. 

The optimum speed limit in city traffic for minimising CO2 emissions for a small petrol hatchback is around 17.5mph, and for NOx is around 12.5mph. For larger vehicles, diesels and SUVs, CO2 emissions are minimised at a maximum speed of 12.5mph.

Lower Speeds Benefit Walking and Cycling

Villages, towns and cities should be places where people are free to travel in ways that are:

  • safe
  • sustainable
  • healthy
  • fair

Inappropriate speed limits make movement dangerous where people live, work and play. This particularly affects vulnerable road users, including children and the elderly.

Lower speeds mean people feel more comfortable to walk and cycle and it is safer for children to walk to school. Older people also feel more able to travel safely. Vehicle speeds are a reason why people do not walk or cycle or do not allow their children to walk or cycle to school.

Research by Atkins (2018) looked at social and community impacts.  This found that 7% of households with children aged 6-10 years play outdoors more.  With children 11-14 it was 5% following the introduction of 20mph limits. Other findings on 20mph included:

  • 49% agreed or neither agreed/disagreed that 20mph made places more desirable to live
  • 30% agreed or neither agreed/disagreed that people are generally out and about more
  • 52% agreed or neither agreed/disagreed that street was now safer

Data Collection

We will track accident data, traffic speed and volumes. We will also review air quality where applicable.  Other data aspects could include:

  • Surveys of school children and parents. To see if the 20mph has made any difference to their travel to and from school, and their social activities
  • Working with Parish and Town Councils to get qualitative information. This will be the positive or negative impacts communities have experienced.

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