back to article No-humping 20mph limit for London

Immediately following this week's demands by safety lobbyists fearing for their jobs that the UK adopt a default 20mph speed limit in urban areas, London Mayor Ken Livingstone popped up aboard the bandwagon (this happened so quickly, indeed, that one might suspect he was aboard in advance). Mayor Ken - the cheeky chappie's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    How does a camera "enforce" a speed limit in any way that relates to the safety aspect? It enables one to make money from speeders - that's all.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boost to cycling

    "Your correspondent commutes by cycle, but still can't understand why a 20mph limit for drivers does cyclists a favour."

    If the cameras only catch vehicles that speed with a number plate, then cycling could be the only way to get anywhere faster than 20mph so it will probably boost the number of cyclists.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Cycling and 20mph

    Bring it on! I can see the reason why it would encourge cycling.... you wouldnt have boy racers wizzing 2cms away from you at a 100kms / hr!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Average speed in London...

    ..was 7mph according to the radio yesterday, so a 20 limit would be about as effective as a 300 limit.

    On the upside a massive camera network will let government and law enforcement agencies know exactly where everyone in the capital is and what they're up to, and some of the cost could be recovered by flogging the more entertaining footage to a reality TV programme.

    >can't understand why a 20mph limit for drivers

    >does cyclists a favour.

    As people get banned from driving for the brief seconds they can get over 20, then they have to cycle in to work, during which period - the inexperienced, poorly equipped, and unfit struggling to set off at juntions and avoid busses etc, - will be killed.

  5. Geoff Webber

    hmm - we already have this in sleepy dorset

    Every day I go to work and home again, my reg number is logged by no less than 8 of these ANPR cameras in each direction.

    Why you might ask!

    Well apparently its part of a long running traffic survey to check vehicle movement ahead of the 2012 olympics (Weymouth & Portland are hosting the sailing events.)

    What is interesting is that the cameras only face towards oncoming traffic being sited on traffic lights or custom poles.

    When I use my moped (to avoid the gridlock when all the holiday makers are here) I can go as fast as i like (well up to 40mph)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother

    I read somewhere yesterday that the average* trafiic speed in London is 18mph so why bother with wasting Londoner's money on ANPR.

    Why not waste it on trams instead?

    *Yes I understand that an average speed may include speeds in excess of 18 or even 20mph. The problem is road safety so reduce the traffic by using trams/crossrail

  7. MattW

    Why it'll do cyclists a favour

    Because I guess it'll piss car drivers off so much that they might resort to cycling.

    Oh how glad I am that I don't live in our capital (but I guess it's almost inevitable that it'll come to all major towns and cities before too long)....

  8. Robin
    Thumb Up

    boosting cyclists

    I guess the boost to cycling is that it will now be clearly faster than dragging oneself around in the the old ton of tin. This will produce a massive increase in cyclists, unstoppable demand for a fantastic cycling infrastructure, a utopian future where children can play hopscotch in the street and polar bears will once again frolic on their treating ice flows (that is the opposite of retreating ?)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cyclist != Cycling

    "Your correspondent commutes by cycle, but still can't understand why a 20mph limit for drivers does cyclists a favour"

    They said it's a boost to *cycling*, not to Lewis Page. They mean it'll encourage more people to give up on cars and take up cycling instead. (Although I guess you could stretch it to say it will help good old Lewis, since the argument is it'll reduce the number of cars on the road.)

  10. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Wouldn't help me

    I also cycle the five miles from home to the centre of Manchester most days for work, and I'd a) be forever breaking the speed limit and more importantly b) in more danger from dawdling drivers not paying any attention.

    It's alright going faster than cars/buses/lorries/etc. when I'm in the safety of my own lane, but most of the time I have to try and safely pass them in the same lanes. And then of course there are the gits who deliberatly drive for the gutter to stop you getting past. All-in-all not very good for cyclists.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Why not 30?

    Continuous monitoring of the speed limit is a good idea - especially if it means no more humps.

    But why not try out continuous enforcement of the 30mph limit first? We all know that drivers involved in accidents lie pathologically about the speed they were doing and that the death and injury figures for accidents invoving vehicles "travelling at 30mph" are grossly over-inflated as a result.

    Enforce the 30 limit vigorously and you'll see a big drop in injuries and deaths.

  12. EvilFairy

    what if

    you break the 20mph limit on your bike?

    and anyway I didn't think the speed in london or any big city ever got above 10mph why do they need to enforce 20mph limits?

  13. Neil


    All the little kids that I'll now run down whilst keeping my eyes glued to the speedo will be delighted!

  14. Dave
    Paris Hilton

    Who voted these fools in¿

    ... oh that would be us.

    I wonder if burning Livingstone at the stake would contribute to global warming?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Gee Whizz

    As many cyclists can go faster than 20mph this should make for interesting times. Will speedy cyclists be stopped by plod since they don't have number plates?

  16. ambrosen

    Makes a lot of sense.

    If traffic goes at 20mph on back roads, it's actually not going to add a lot of time to journeys because, like the M25 variable speed limits, it'll mean that queues at junctions form slightly more slowly and thus congestion is reduced. It'll also make it easier to pass parked cars or obstacles without stopping completely, which will add up.

    If it's 20mph on through routes, that's just silly and antagonistic, of course.

  17. Jason


    What's cheaper? A fine from speeding, or having to replace your car because you knackered the chassis doing 50 over a speed bump?

    I know which I'd prefer....

  18. Marcus Bointon
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Gee Whizz

    A friend of mine was done for doing 40 in a 30 limit, on his bike. Admittedly, down a steep hill...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    as a pedestrian I'm all for this generally (although I don't go to London)

    Just a thought though, doesn't this increase the number of cars on the road at any one time by up to 50% since each journey takes longer to make? Of course that assumes people manage a constant 30mph at the moment (which won't be the case or anywhere near it) but it would seem to add to the congestion problem.

    Of course if they remove speed bumps then maybe the traffic flow would become smoother and so actual speed might increase. In which case it would help congestion.

  20. Feargal Reilly

    Average speed of traffic in London...

    There must be some weird physics going on at the media-level - 7mph on the radio, and 18mph in print?

    In future I suggest we all go by the average *reported* speed of traffic in London, which, based on measurements taken yesterday is 143691.429 lgph. That's 12.5 mph for you old fogies who are still not with "it".

  21. John Stag

    Does Ken Livingstone cycle to work?

    Thought not.

  22. Andrew Heenan


    "If the machinery can cope with temporary interference, different measures may be required; but there will be ways to beat the camera, despite the Daily Mail's gloomy prognostications."

    Oh yes; there'll always be motorists happy to risk killing the occasional child who dares to get in their way!

    And why sneer at Ken?

    No, PLEASE don't answer that - I know why.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Using stuff it's not intended for

    Have the people who make these decisions - I'm looking at you Ken and your cronies - ever even heard of Ultra Vires? In their rush to hug trees (and won't somebody think of the children!!) are they really prepared to throw away Magna Carta and all the good bits in it, along with every other constitutional right that followed from it?

    Hmmm.... I think I've just answered my own question there

    (For the benefit of our Colonial Cousins - yes we do have a constitution in the UK and yes it is written down; It's just not written in one document. So there.)

  24. Andrew

    @ Anon Vulture - Your solution is distinctly lacking

    "The problem is road safety so reduce the traffic by using trams/crossrail"

    1) There is only 1 tramline in London and no more are planned. For some reason traffic engineers in England hate trams even more than cars.

    2) Crossrail is STILL in planning after more than 25 years and is likely to remain in planning if the government continues to insist on "Business" paying for the inevitable cost overruns.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    average speed

    according to london is the slowest city in Europe with an average speed of 11mph at rush hour for car but bikes (pedal?) travel at an average of 14 mph during the same period. With this in mind how can a 20mph speed limit reduce accidents when vehicles are already travelling slower than this!

    Sounds like the same amount of science went into this statement as the one about reducing the drink drive limit from 80 to 50 (cannot remember the units). Apparently up to 80 you are not more or less likely to have an accident than if you had no alcohol in your system.

  26. andy gibson


    If you feel you need to continuously look at your speedo to maintain your speed maybe you shouldn't be on the road.

    During your driving lessons and subsequent test you are trained to monitor your speed and the road ahead.

    If you can't do what's asked of you for the driving test perhaps more lessons would be in order?

  27. Dave

    Speeding Cyclists

    I don't think they prosecute cyclists for speeding, the charge is "cycling furiously".

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Who voted these fools in

    ... I didn't, but then again handing in a voting card with "none of the malaevolent fuckers" scrawled on it probably doesn't help anyone's cause.

  29. Ash
    Thumb Down

    I see a hole in the plan

    Forcing drivers to spend the time in free flowing traffic through the centre of london at 20mph will cause them no end of agitation, causing them to be reckless and tempramental when in traffic.

    Want to nip into that spot opening in the lane next to you? So do the cyclists filtering past you. I wonder who will be watching more closely...

    I don't need to tell you who'll come off worse.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    FFS, it's hard enough to get anywhere in London as it is. The average speed is less than 20mph as it is so why the feck do they have to waste 10 million of tax payers money on a pointless speed limit change.

    I hate the way transport systems in this country are going backwards. Where as most things like technology, science, etc, etc are all developing, advancing and speeding up - our crappy transport infrastructure is getting slower and less advanced, apart from the cash generating parts of course!

    It won't be long before we're all back to horse and cart *rolls eyes*.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    safer? but with more CO2

    Wouldn't driving so slow be less efficient. And what the hell would be the point driving at 20mph be anyway, they might as well close the roads.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Cyclists can do over 20mph....

    Yep, it is easy to go over 20mph on a bike (especially down hill). In one instance a car driver got really annoyed with me because he thought I was going too slow down a nice long straight hill (I was doing just over 30mph). He gave a long hoot on his horn and shot past me only to be caught by a speed camera that was about 50-70 yards in front of me... I must admit that I really enjoyed that journey - if he had been a bit more patient maybe he would have.

  33. Graham Marsden


    > All the little kids that I'll now run down whilst keeping my eyes glued to the speedo will be delighted!

    Oh dear. What's the betting you subscribe to the so-called "Safe Speed" site?! This sounds exactly like the BS that Paul Smith comes out with.

    A speed limit is exactly that, a *LIMIT* it is not a *TARGET*!

    If you are incapable of driving your car at a constant speed whilst maintaining Due Care and Attention to what is around you, then you should not be on the road at all.

  34. Alex

    Wireless cameras...

    ... I forsee a burgeoning industry creating in-car wireless jamming devices :)

  35. James
    Thumb Down

    @Graham Marsden

    "A speed limit is exactly that, a *LIMIT* it is not a *TARGET*!"

    I assume then that you have not heard of the simple concept of "making good progress" when you drive. Perhaps you are one of those delightful people who dawdle along significantly below the speed limit out of sheer incompetence to make good progress. Or worse, one of those who joins motorways at 40mph and causes havoc.

    Stupidity kills, on the part of drivers and pedestrians/cyclists etc, not speed in and of itself. There are times when safety requires 20mph or lower (e.g. a single lane between lines of parked cars that can conceal children) but there are others when 30mph is perfectly safe. A competent driver can evaluate and choose correctly. The dangerous idiots need sorting out by real policemen not cameras. Fools who advocate mandating lower limits when they are not competent to choose the safe speed based on conditions can help solve the traffic problems by surrendering their license.

    Most of the incompetent and dangerous driving I witness every day is done below the speed limit.

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  37. Glen Forde

    Almost makes me wish I hadn't left London

    Although I did enjoy the cut and thrust of cycle commuting and cycle couriering in London, the whole place grinds along anyway. If the average speed is so slow, how can anyone object to sticking to 20mph. Whether you are in your car or not, you are under the gaze of the densest concentration of CCTV in the world.

    Still I am much happier to commute 9.5 miles to work along the Bristol to Bath cycle way, no traffic and wonderful views.

  38. Jeff Deacon

    Cycles with number plates

    For those thinking that this cycling lark gives a free passout from all this automatic monitoring stuff, do remember that "Our Ken" (tm) has already mooted requiring cyclists to be registered, and to display number plates! Sadly, I can't remember for sure, but I guess at a couple of years ago. It'll be back!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speeding cyclists

    Push bikes don't have number plates. Thus the speed junkies will all start cycling so they can go faster.

  40. The Other Steve
    Black Helicopters

    Traffic Engineers

    Hate everyone. Perhaps this is the problem. If you're a driver you will be well aware of the things they stuff on the roads to piss you off and make your journey as unpleasant as possible.

    In Northumberland (land of the massive roundabouts) for instance, the bastards have gone out of their way to build roundabouts that actively deny you any idea of what other traffic may be entering. Your only choice is drop the hammer as soon as a likely looking gap appears and hope like buggery that your acceleration is sufficient to save you if it turns out an HGV has recently entered from the opposite side. Brown trousers all around.

    If you're a cyclist, you may justifiably have developed the impression that your local traffic engineers are actively attempting to kill you. Cycle lanes that dump you out on the insode of roundabouts just as the road gets dualled, lanes that disappear when the road narrows, lanes that turn right across dual carriageways, lanes that run alongside the road and then magically dump you back into traffic just as the gradient starts to get hairy, stupid foot wide gaps through kerbed sections that seem designed to chuck you off into bus lanes. Oh yeah, bus lanes, you can ride in bus lanes. Go on, we dare you.

    If you're a pedestrian, well, there's an extremely busy junction outside my house with marked pedestrian crossing places where there is never, ever less than one lane of traffic flowing. Further north aong the same road there's a pelican crossing where you get <20 seconds to cross four lanes with an island in the middle. Clearly someone is attempting to cull the slow and the weak.

    Seriously, WTF is wrong with these people ? Get them some whalesong CDs and a spliff, for the sake of us all.

  41. David Evans
    Thumb Down

    blunt trauma

    No-one without psychopathic tendencies would disagree that 20mph makes sense some of the time when driving in London, but a blanket urban speeding limit is just idiotic. There are already plenty of places where the current 30mph limit is too low (I regularly drive along a couple of roads in East London that border parkland with no pathways or even buildings for the precious little kiddies to jump out from, but have 30 limits which should be 40 or even 50); bet they won't get reevaluated before this nonsense gets implemented. I could even sign up to a blanket 20 limit if a little intelligence was applied to make it variable.

    Oh and I think we need a Maude Flanders icon.

  42. Piers

    'Wireless enforcement/revenue panopticon expansion' ?!? the articles are beginning to sound like aManFromMars, just get a dodgy caPs kEy and you're sorted - hitech poetry.

  43. Paul Stimpson

    Follow the money (if you can drive fast enough)

    Would the terrorist plod happen to have to pay Ken for access to the data from these and the congestion cameras? If so then I suggest there lies the reason for his enthusiasm...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Limit refers to residential streets

    Did any of you actually read the article?

    It says: 20mph limits on "every residential street"

    A very small part of the time taken on a typical metropolitan journey is on residential streets, unless you are a rat-runner, and I have no sympathy for them whatsoever.

    Cyclists spend more time on residential streets, because they feel safer there, and can often string together quite efficient routes that avoid heavily trafficked roads.

    Some cities are enlightened enough to have designated, sign-posted cycle routes that largely follow this strategy.

  45. Mike Bremford Silver badge

    Average speed?

    Look, the average speed is below 30 because we send half our time sitting at lights. So you move at 30, then stop for a bit, average speed 18mph. Reducing this to 20 is going to have a big impact, believe me - not for the muppets that commute to work every day (sweet jesus, what are you thinking), but at any other time of day. It's going to increase emissions, because cars aren't as efficient at that speed, it's going to increase congestion, because cars won't be moving down empty stretches of road at speed. Disaster.

    There are plenty of London streets where it's safe to do 40 out of hours, but this system will be rigid regardless of time of day. I'm on a motorbike most of the time and what I really, really want to see is a) more box junction cameras and most importantly, more red-light cameras!

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Can't see the wood for the trees....

    Can you not see what is going on here?

    Government want to crack down on speeders with a new generation of 'super'cameras' but know the public backlash will be immense.

    So, they concoct a story about blanket 20mph limits and there is (justifiably) uproar among drivers whilst cyclists rejoyce.

    Drivers (such as we see on the comments here) say "Enforce existing 30mph limits rather than hitting us with new 20mph limits!".

    Government quietly drop the 20mph proposals and instead proceed to leather anyone doing 33mph+ in a 30mph zone with their lovely new expensive speed cameras (putting many more up in the process) - drivers breathe a sigh of short-lived relief (until they realise convictions are going through the roof, as is the revenue raised) whilst cyclists are happy(er).

    Government get their way (again), road users lose out (again).

    It's happened many times before and will continue to do so unless the populace start voting in elections & also gain some interest in something other than X-factor/MTV - which is extremely unlikely IMHO.

  47. simon perryman

    People seem to only think about the rush hour commute.

    What about late night journeys?

    The four am trip to work because a server has crashed. If you have to make that at 20mph with no other cars in sight then London is going to become a mighty annoying place to be.

    The claim that only residential streets will be targeted seems a touch vague to me. How many roads in London can honestly claim to have no residents?

    Tax and perks for the insurance companies via the backdoor me thinks.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "It says: 20mph limits on "every residential street"

    But there are very few of London's streets, including most of its A and B roads, that don't have residences.

    I think I could accept a limit of 20mph in genuine "back streets" that nobody other than the people who live on the same estate need to use, IF and ONLY IF a budget was found to enhance or bypass all the high streets with good and uncongested 40mph roads, which could be repaid by all the fines they plan on getting.

    But its clear there is no valid SAFETY case for having a 20 limit. If there was, then instead of proposing to catch and fine offenders in order to raise money, the proposal would be to transmit a signal that requires cars to determine the speed limit and stick to it.

    Admit it, its nothing to do with safety and everything to do with getting yet more money by the back door.

  49. Anthony Hulse
    Thumb Down

    Cyclists are fast becoming the most dangerous Londoners

    Why doesn't Jenny Jones ever launch a much-needed crackdown on all those cyclists that run red lights, don't stop for pedestrians at crossings, decide to cycle along busy pavements even on roads with cycle lanes, speed and weave between the traffic at a rate that even motorcyclists would fear, and generally behave in their über-sanctimonious way as if the entire city's infrastructure is theirs and theirs alone?

    More cyclists on London's streets is a bad thing whilst the current pedal-powered anarchy is allowed to continue. How about sorting that out Jenny? Or is there no revenue in that plan?

  50. Anonymous Coward


    I for one welcome our new robotic overlords.

    Speeding killer robots don't have numberplates either. In fact most of them will already be connected to skynet^Hlondon-net's database using those same cameras to track down any puny fleshies trying to flee their inevitable recycling. Removing the speed-humps is the first step in the Dalek invasion - watch this space, next year steps in general (particularly the pop-group) and buildings with more than one level without an elevator (or stannah-product) will be erased to make way for our new metallic masters.

  51. Steve


    WWW.SAFESPEED.ORG.UK could well be the UK's leading authority regarding the true effectiveness of speed cameras and their side effects.

    Speed enforcement is not all it is hyped up to be. The people who run the speed camera system have been lying to us.

    Take a look at for an example. The campaign website is full of such analysis you should read.

    Why not take part in the ever lively forums:

    Don't be afraid, it’s not an extremist site. There's plenty of good driving/riding tips/discussions too, it's not simply an 'anti-camera' site.

  52. The Other Steve


    Will you *stop* posting that, you spammng cunt.

  53. Steve


    I'm not a spammer. It is not my campaign. I'm not and won't be gaining from it this any way. I'm merely posting a link to a website which is discussing these issues because the people who have commented here may want to do more reading or have more discussion on the subject.

    Besides, my message passed moderator scrutiny.

    I will not *stop* where I feel the reference is relevant so deal with it.

    It’s funny how that’s only the second time I’ve posted that type of message out of many other completely unrelated comments, yet somehow you see fit to call me a spammer.

    Your unprovoked rudeness does you no favours.

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