Councillors’ bid to bring 20mph speed limit to isle roads

Councillors Barry Lewis and Karen Constantine are hoping for 20mph limits on isle roads

Two councillors representing Thanet on the Kent county authority have launched a bid to bring in 20mph traffic limits across Margate and Ramsgate.

Barry Lewis and Karen Constantin are due to bring the proposal up at county council this month and say the measure could result in saved lives.

Last year Cllr Lewis applied for the limit to e put in place on New Street, New Cross Street, Mansion Street, Fort Road, Alkali Row and Cobbs Place.

He said: “This is about speed in residential areas. I have been in contact with the national and county organisation 20’s Plenty.

“There are fatalities due to cars going over 20mph if they impact with someone whereas it has proved much safer and better outcomes in the case of accidents if the car is at 20mph.

“There is also a problem on our roads where the speed limit changes so drivers do not always know what speed they should be doing.

“The 20mph zone has been put in place in areas of London and the traffic flow remains constant whereas in Margate everyone is rushing to the next set of traffic lights, the 20mph system means less braking and safer driving.

“We will be raising this at county level and will try to get cross party support for it.

“I’ve also tried to encourage individual drivers to keep to 20mph in built up areas. If enough people do it, it will slow down the traffic and people will drive in a way that saves lives rather than saving five minutes.”

Cllr Constantine, who lost her son in a road accident, says action needs to be taken. She said: “I feel very strongly that our roads should be as safe as they can be. Many residents have contacted me with concerns over the past three years.

“These people, quite often parents, and elderly, are worried about the potential for accidents especially near to schools and on busy roads. They are not reassured by the county council’s response that roads cannot be improved, by way of either speed limitations or additional pedestrian crossings because there have been no deaths. They want action to avoid deaths on our roads. I fully agree. I think 20 is plenty.

“In 2001 my own dearly loved son Aaron, just 19 years old, was killed in a road traffic accident in Nottinghamshire.”

The 20’s Plenty For Us group is a ‘not for profit’ organisation with 400 local campaigns around the country.

They want 20mph to become the default speed limit on residential and urban streets.

Find out more here


  1. We do need something done about the fast roads in Thanet because with all the traffic and junctions, traffic lights, roundabouts, etc, etc the standard speed limits are no longer appropriate.
    The limit on the Ramsgate Rd, Margate should be levelled at 30mph instead of two different speeds along it’s length from Poorhole Lane to Victoria Traffic lights – 30mph – 40mph – 30mph and nowhere for pedestrians to cross safely.

  2. Whilst I fully support 20 mph speed limits in specific locations where there is an obvious reason for a lower limit, a blanket restriction is unlikely to work. Bristol and parts of London have had them for some considerable time, but they are widely ignored especially in those roads where there is minimal if any benefit. Enforcement is practically non existent as the police have insufficient resources and the trend is against speed cameras due to cost. 20 mph limits in roads which need them, which are well signed and coupled with effective enforcement would be a better solution.

    • I have recently heard about some in car speed control that is likely to become mandatory in the next few years – rather like an automatic cruise control that can be overridden in an emergency – sounds good to me – rather than cameras all over the place.
      However as it stands people do largely ignore the 20 limit ( not me!)
      But if you were to kill someone driving above 20 then you would be prosecuted so all in all there is some merit to the speed change

  3. Why what’s the point? There is no enforcement of the idiots who speed now, yes they slow down when they see a speed camera only to speed up again a little further down the road, also motor bikes with kids on dashing up and down the roads at all times of the day and night with illegal exhaust pipes fitted to their bikes making as much noise as possible well over the legal decibels. At one time the police would do road checks the police don’t have time to enforce anything not until there is an accident or incident. Always after the event. Due to cuts in police numbers.

  4. Sounds good ,until you think that Newington Est has had it for years now and I never seen anyone stopped fined listed for going over the limit .Who’s going to enforce it as they don’t do it now ,If I’m wrong can someone let us know how many have been fined for it

  5. The fact that there is a lack of enforcement is not an argument against introducing such a scheme. Speed kills. Cutting speed by 10 mph hugely reduces the consequences of a collision. It also saves fuel. It’s a no-brainer, really.

    • So explain why people should abide by them?? I would because I have children but everyone thinks they’re special and it won’t happen to them and when you have legal enforcement ignoring it then I’m confused

    • People need actions and consequences! I live in a 20mph zone and no one abides by it and if you try and do something about it the councils answer is at least 3 people need to die first so where do we stand and what can be done?? The only thing that might help is traffic calming like someone suggested but not the kind cars can straddle but where they really have to slow down

  6. Thanks to everyone for comments. There is much to think through. However there is a growing number of places where 20 is being implemented.

    Already more than half of the largest 40 urban authorities in the UK have a policy of setting 20mph as the default for all their streets.

    The complete list of places implementing a community-wide 20mph default with populations are :-

    Bath & NE Somerset (175500)
    Bolton (139403)
    Brampton (4,862)
    Brighton & Hove (273400)
    Bristol (428100)
    Bury (60718)
    Calderdale (200100)
    Cambridge (122700)
    Camden (LB) (220100)
    Cheshire West & Chester (332000)
    Chichester (22731)
    City of Birmingham (1074300)
    City of Cardiff (346100)
    City of Leeds (751,500)
    City of London (LB) (400000)
    City of Manchester (502900)
    Clackmannanshire (51,400)
    Coventry (316900)
    Croydon (LB) (364800)
    Darlington (106100)
    Dent ( 785)
    Ealing (LB) (342500)
    Edinburgh (495360)
    Fife (368,100)
    Fressingfield (900)
    Glasgow City (598830)
    Greenwich(LB) (255500)
    Hackney (LB) (247200)
    Hammersmith & Fulham (LB) (182400)
    Haringey (LB) (255500)
    Hounslow (LB) (265568)
    Islington (LB) (206300)
    Lambeth (LB) (304500)
    Lancashire (1461400)
    Leicester (329600)
    Lewisham (275885)
    Limpley Stoke (900)
    Liverpool (465700)
    Middlesbrough (138400)
    Middleton (500)
    Newcastle-upon-Tyne (279100)
    Norwich (213,166)
    Nottingham (303900)
    Otley (14124)
    Oxford (150200)
    Portsmouth (205400)
    Rochdale (211900)
    Sefton (272000)
    Sheffield (551800)
    Shipley (28162)
    Southampton (239700)
    Southwark (LB) (288700)
    St Helens (102629)
    Tower Hamlets (LB) (256000)
    Tregony (1000)
    Waltham Forest(LB) (259700)
    West Dunbartonshire (89,600)
    Wandsworth (LB) (312145)
    Warrington (202700)
    Westbourne (2309)
    Whitchurch, Hants (4800)
    Wigan (318100)
    York (197800)

  7. Last year Cllr Lewis applied for the limit to be put in place on New Street, New Cross Street, Mansion Street, Fort Road, Alkali Row and Cobbs Place.

    So tell me exactly how many people have been run over on these roads? Lets keep it simple, in the last ten years?

    Instead of futile social engineering plans beloved of politicians and busy bodies, how about you put the effort into identifying the real danger roads and locations and you deal with them?

    • Speeding throughout Thanet’s towns is part of a systemic failure to adequately enforce the law by monitoring & sanctioning offenders – two children were hit on Athelstan Road in the past year, where drivers regularly get up to 50mph daily – using Thanet’s residential streets as a boy-racer-rat-run is unconscionable – hence the 20mph campaign for all areas within towns – what is the price of a young child’s life, or a teenager’s…

      • Think about what you just said… they drive at 50mph in an area that currently has a limit of 30mph. Why would lowering the limit make any difference to this problem?? They’ll just be doing 30mph over the limit instead of 20! Surely the answer would be to better enforce the existing limits instead of changing a limit that is widely ignored already

      • So how is a 20MPH speed limit in New Street, New Cross Street, Mansion Street, Fort Road, Alkali Row and Cobbs Place. going to solve that problem?

        If the problem is Athestan Road, do something about it in Athestan Road. Dont go round like an NPC banally mouthing dross about blanket 20 MPH limits, do something real about a real problem. if they are doing 50 put some humps in, big ones, ones that break their car if they do over 20, make changes that bite not some vague meaningless gesture.

  8. How do the emergency services feel about these road calming ideas ? They have time limits to make when on 999 calls , surely having to brake , speed up , brake , speed up , brake , speed up will cost life’s of it takes them longer to get to you.
    Plus going slower would make more pollution.

  9. The issue is whether or not a 20 mph limit is a good thing. How to implement it is another.
    There are few “sleeping policemen” around to enforce 30, 40, 70 mph limits, for example. Enforcement could be speed cameras.

  10. There would need only to change signage as happened in the changes in central Margate, more enforcement would be good but there would be no extra calming measures needed as the beauty of having a default 20 miles speed limit is the minimal cost involved.

    • Absolutely – couldn’t agree more – the excuses being made by some commentators bare no relation to the lives ruined by road traffic accidents caused by speeding in built up areas – towns – as if deaths were the only way of justifying safer streets, especially when Thanet’s towns are minuscule compared to the vast British cities that have successfully adopted 20’s plenty – at 20mph one could cross any town 10 times over in an hour – a sense of perspective is needed we’ll beyond saving 5 minutes on a 10 minute journey…

  11. 20 is plenty only for the PC brigade. Journeys will be longer, cars will be in lower gears burning more fuel, and councils over the country are taking sleeping policemen out because they too add to pollution levels and noise levels .
    The speed limits do not need to be lowered, the current ones just need to be policed and enforced. The climate of political correctness in Thanet is staggering.
    If travelling slower is better why is it that every area in thanet with slow moving traffic also suffer from the worst air pollution.

    • Public Heath England has just published a report to the effect that 36000 premature deaths occur every year in the UK because of air pollution. They advocate the introduction of congestion charging (£50 A day, for the most polluting) in cities up and down the land. They point out that if 36000 people a year were dying because of polluted tap water, there would be uproar.
      The point about travelling more slowly is that the damage done to a pedestrian is far less than if the car is travelling at speed (impact energy is proportional to the square of the speed). A RoSPA study shows that a pedestrian is almost 3 times more likely to die in a collision at 30 mph rather than 20 mph.
      So yes, there’s every good reason to drive slowly. And if you can only drive at 20 mph by grinding along in low gear, then you need to look to your driving style.
      Best of all, get rid of cars.

    • “PC brigade”, “political correctness”? Are you only concerned for yourself? The faster you’re driving, the more likely you are to kill someone if you hit them. It won’t matter what party they vote for.

      I’ve just read Tony’s comment. I think there should be thousands -no, millions- fewer cars on the roads. The general public should be lobbying councillors and MPs like mad for big improvements in public transport.

  12. Emergency services don’t like calming measures on busy roads and they need to be maintained if installed as they can cause damage to vehicles. Church Street in St. Peter’s is a good example of what happens when they start to break up or subside.

  13. The two KCC Councillors have clearly not thought this through. Neither of them is expert in traffic and road management. The best that could hope to be achieved from this is revenue from speed traps – hardly conducive to safe driving anyway. There is no enforcement of people who break the law using phones or any other poor driving. I too have lost a step-son through a road traffic accident, this does not add anything constructive to this debate which seems to have only started on this page. Are there elections coming up?

  14. There are no county council elections for another 2 years, this discussion about road safety has been raised many times by residents in Thanet and yes this only the start of the campaign , but where better news outlet than this?

    • As I said this needs careful, informed examination. Many of us are tired of government by vox pops. It doesn’t create lasting benefit – it doesn’t work. Aspects of the issues arising have been intelligently raised by Jenny Matterface. Do we want our one hour dash to the William Harvey Hospital from Thanet further thwarted by lumps, humps, and roads clogged by slow-moving traffic pumping out more pollution than necessary? Transposing alleged successes elsewhere does not make it right for Thanet’s particular road network. The roads would be safer if there were no vehicles on it whatsoever, speed does increase the chance of dying in a road accident, but the lack of road traffic cops, people still drinking, drugging and driving, the persistent use of mobile phones is more likely to cause road traffic accidents than speed alone. Better still would be to work with the Highways department on the dangers of particular road layout and some of the appalling signage road users have to deal with. And Barry Lewis what better place to discuss this isn’t on the generally unread comments to one of IOTN stories. What would make a change is for the KCC Councillors – all of them – is to brief experts with the problems and then deal with a workable brief in discussion with the public when necessary.

  15. Fully support this proposal. This is the most cost-effective road safety measure for the people of Thanet that could be introduced. 16m people now live in places where 20mph is the norm. Research studies show that 20mph speed limits reduce casualties where they are introduced – Bristol, Portsmouth, Calderdale, Edinburgh etc – with overall journey times hardly impacted. Enforcement would certainly be welcome, of course. Community Speedwatch, which the police are fully behind, is a great way of doing this.

  16. Police records show 543 casualties in Thanet in 2017. 422 were on 30mph roads, including 390 on the urban roads which might be candidates for 20mph. The largest, most robust study on 20mph, the BRITE report from Bristol, showed a 14% reduction in casualties (and a 47% reduction in fatalities). If that experience were mirrored in Thanet, there might be 44 fewer casualties

    • Identify the roads where a 20 mph limit would reduce accidents. Whilst statistics in Bristol show a drop in accidents the 20 limit is widely ignored. I have been visiting Bristol for many years either side of the introduction of the blanket limit and have many friends who live there. Further analysis of the location of reduced levels of accidents would show I suspect the biggest reduction is in those areas where there is some form of enforcement.

  17. Although into my eighth decade, I still use my bike at least 4 times a week, and its a little known law of physics that as soon as you get on a bike, you become invisible! I have been knocked off my bike twice, once when being cut up by a young woman hitting my front wheel, and from the rear by someone hitting my back wheel! In both cases the drivers were trying to cut a nano second off their journey! I estimate I go through a near death experience about every half hour!

    The 20’s plenty scheme where it has been introduced has reduced accidents, its a statistical fact! At the moment I would not encourage youngsters to start riding a bike in Thanet because the roads are appalling! Third World countries, and I have been to a few, would be ashamed to have roads like ours, with deeply sunken drain covers, pot holes, and poor surfacing where they have been patched over the years are simply too hazardous! Most urban roads have not been resurfaced since they were asphalted 90 years ago, but the Tory government run around in their chauffeur driven luxury cars, and couldn’t care less!

  18. The ‘Ramsgate resident” makes some interesting points, particularly about the need to rely on expert opinion. All of the research on the subject (that I have seen) recommends 20mph as the default speed where people and vehicles mix. Most authoritative source on this is the World Health Organisation, but there are others showing the benefits of 20mph. On the point about ‘bumps and lumps’, I agree!
    The most recent wide area 20mph schemes generally do not have traffic calming, because they are much cheaper to implement and maintain. I am not from Thanet but my in-laws were, so I know the road layouts reasonably well. I’d be happy to come down to meet residents and hear their views.

  19. If the 20 is plenty brigade Are successful and we are all stuck in 20 mile an hour traffic on our way to Canterbury to go get to our closest accident and emergency department (QEQM hospital A&E will close) or Driving to Ashford for our closest stroke services Councillor Barry Lewis and supporters should be held accountable for the extra deaths that they will be responsible for.
    To stop road fatalities Thanet needs more traffic cops checking for drug and drink driving and actually enforce existing speed limits. Parents and schools in Thanet should be forced to teach their children about the green cross code.
    Punishing the vast majority of law abiding divers is not the answer and will only add to higher particulates in the air we breath. Twenty is plenty will only work in areas where there is excellent public transport and Thanet certainly does not have that.

  20. To ‘concerned’. From Margate, most of the A28 would retain its existing speed limit. In urban areas, 20mph has little effect on overall journey times. I just checked Googlemaps – currently shows 12 mins to drive 4.2 miles from Margate seafront to the Canterbury side of Birchington – an average of 21mph. More enforcement would be welcome of course. I’d be interested to see the evidence on the negative effects of 20mph on pollution. The only study that I have seen shows a reduction in pollution.

  21. Reducing the speed from 30mph to 20mph is just arbitrary. You may have fewer accidents and the accidents may kill fewer people, but you aren’t guaranteeing people’s safety. Why not go the whole hog and have a man with a red flag walking in front of each vehicle? It used to work very well. If you believe that one life lost is one too many I know you’ll agree with me.

  22. To Adrian, some fuel consumption figures from the AA tested by independent sources.
    Fuel consumption figures

    30mph/20mph/speed humps petrol car consumption figures

    Steady 30mph (4th gear):
    60.7 mpg (small petrol car), 55.6 mpg (medium petrol car)
    = 58.15 mpg (average)
    Steady 20mph (3rd gear):
    55.5 mpg (small petrol car), 49.1 mpg (medium petrol car)
    = 52.3 mpg (average)
    Speed humps (6 over 1/2 mile at 20-30 mph):
    33.8 mpg (small petrol car), 27.9 mpg (medium petrol car)
    = 30.85 mpg (average)
    30mph/20mph/speed humps petrol car consumption differences

    Change 30 mph zone to 20 mph:
    increases fuel consumption by 5.85 miles per gallon, or 10.1 per cent.
    Add speed humps to a 30 mph zone:
    increases fuel consumption by 27.3 miles per gallon, or 46.9 per cent.
    The AA’s fuel consumption tests were carried out at Millbrook proving ground by an independent engineer and car tester, using a fuel flow meter.

    In 2000, the then Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions argued against reducing the 30 mph limit for fear of increasing emissions.

    20mph will result in more emissions related deaths.

  23. To ‘concerned”. The key is in the words “steady” and “petrol”. In a town, you can’t drive at a steady 30mph and the results are different for diesel. The most comprehensive study was done by Imperial College London a few years ago – In normal urban driving conditions – “the urban cycle” – for petrol cars, N0x and C02 are up but PM10s are lower at 20mph. For diesel cars, N0x and PM10s (10x higher than petrol), are both lower in 20mph and C02 is about the same. Overall, there are massive pollution gains from 20mph.

    To ‘Eggnog’ – I agree that speed limits are arbitrary and that 20mph will result in fewer casualties. 9 out of 10 pedestrians will survive being hit at 20mph. At 30mph it’s about 4 in 10. Most health and road safety organisations now accept that 20mph is the right speed limit where people and vehicles mix.

    As I have said in an earlier post, I’d be happy to come to Thanet and discuss with concerned residents.

  24. “There is also a problem on our roads where the speed limit changes so drivers do not always know what speed they should be doing.” … So, introducing an additional arbitrary speedlimit that also increases vehicle emissions is as good thing? Get a grip. We need to improve driving standards (including on-street parking). Just as side note speed does not kill otherwise we all would be dead.

  25. We need to have much much better public transport, and car adverts which are absurdly unrealistic (ie most of them) should be banned. Cars are a danger to people’s health even when they aren’t injuring or killing people. Roll on the day when people are astonished that there was ever such a thing as a private-car industry.

  26. To Adrian, the twenty is plenty figures fail to show what gears they tested in. Most cars will not be able to drive in fourth gear at twenty mph and it’s impossible to deny that driving in 3rd gear burns more fuel. The twenty is plenty group also dismiss engine peak performance as just another anomaly and dismiss the benefits of peak performance completely ignoring the benefits it may bring to fuel efficiency. Unfortunately statistics can be manipulated to suit anyone’s agenda.

    A lot of the basis for claims that 20 reduces pollution are that by reducing the limits more people will leave their cars behind and travel by other means , in a city with subways and and a healthy transportation network that might be the case but in a poorer area that simply will not happen.

    If every area adopted the 20 mph limits it would only be a matter of time before you then started demanding a 15 then a 10 mph national speed limit because the end game of the 20is plenty group is the abolition of the motor vehicle.

    Where in the 20 is plenty literature does it suggest educating children and teaching the green cross code ? The burden of saving pedestrians should also be on parents and the school network. I stop look and listen when I cross the road because it was drummed into me at a very early age, unfortunately the pc brigade and the nanny state make it that the blame always lies with someone else and in this case it’s the motor vehicle that is taking the blame for the lack of parental teaching.

    The 20is plenty scheme might work in some areas but in others it will be ineffective and increase emissions. The 20is plenty figures of lives saved also seem to disagree with Manchester’s trial figures.Like I have already mentioned, statistics can be manipulated to suit any agenda.

    The best way to save lives is better education for young children and to target known hotspots with an increased police presence targeting the real perpetrators of traffic offences and not a blanket wide 20mph speed limit that penalises every motorist.

    • I’m all for the abolition of the private car, and if we had governments who sincerely wanted improvements to public transport and to air quality, we could now be steadily progressing to that state of affairs.

  27. Let us be clear 30 mph kills.Nothing can be worse than a policeman calling at a parents house to tell them that their child has been killed.
    Yes 20 mph will be in convenient but I am prepared to put up with it if it saves lives.
    I and the Salmestone ward Residents Assosiation are fully behind cllr Lewis if it makes Thanet a safer environment

  28. To ‘concerned’. It was not a 20’s Plenty for Us report. It was a study by Imperial College, London for the City of London. It was on an ‘urban cycle’, which mirrors real world driving conditions. As its name indicates, 20’s Plenty for Us is campaigning for 20mph as the default speed where people and vehicles mix, not 15mph, not 10mph. Might be better if I came down to discuss the benefits with you and with others in more detail – happy to do so.

  29. ARTRA – Athelstan Road Tenants & Residents’ Association – have asked Cllr. Barry Lewis to support our campaign for a 20mph speed limit on Athelstan Road, at county level, following two children being hit by cars on our street, over the past 12 to 18 months & highly dangerous constant speeding on Athelstan Road, very significantly in excess of the inadequately enforced current 30mph limit.

    ARTRA have embarked on an anti-speeding children’s art project: ‘Don’t Kill Us, Kill Your Speed’ – in relation to the two incidents of children being hit by cars on Athelstan Road, Cliftonville, CT9 In 2017/18 – facilitated by RESORT STUDIOS & led by artist Ayaan.

    Horrified by formal advice provided by TDC councillors & officers attending ARTRA’s monthly community meetings, which began in November 2018, clarifying the KCC position that no traffic calming, or 20mph speed limit is set within Kent without fatalities, ARTRA have embarked on a children’s art project to raise local awareness of children being hit by cars & the unenforceable & inadequate 30mph speed limit in Cliftonville/Margate.

    Such a Council position really does beg the question: which of our street’s 30+ children under 11, & our 20+ teenagers actually need to die, to get traffic calming &/or a 20mph limit & appropriate speeding enforcement, to act as a proper speeding deterrent.

  30. Default 20mph limit across Thanet is the solution, it’s a great idea!
    There are so many junctions and stop points in run the area, there’s no point in going faster. The safety issue is obvious, no one can argue that one is better off being struck by a car at 30mph than 20mph.

  31. I am totally in support of the 20 mph default speed limit
    I look forward to the day when drivers are not living in a parallel universe from people on feet or cycles , charging around with a crazed need for speed, cursing anything that gets in their way

  32. Owning a car can be very useful if you are carrying heavy items, or there is a terrible storm. Otherwise I don’t see what is stopping people from getting on their bikes – except that it is terribly dangerous due to all the fast motor cars
    Then again one could take a bus or train except that they are on the whole not that great… If people used public transport more then would it improve?
    I own a car but choose to use a combination of train and bike to get to work – by far less stressful and more energising than by car

  33. Drivers could soon be physically prevented from speeding thanks to a new device that automatically limits a vehicle’s speed.
    In a proposed move which campaigners hope will revolutionise road safety, all vehicles in the EU would be fitted with a system that restricts them from breaking the speed limit – with the UK expected to follow suit even after its withdrawal.

    After being approved by MEPs, mandatory speed limiting technology – called ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’ (ISA) – could be fitted to all new cars within just three years.

    The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), the body which supports the introduction of ISAs, says the limiters would reduce collisions by 30%, and save around 25,000 lives within 15 years.

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