Speed to be cut to 20mph on major roads in five London boroughs this week

The speed limit will be reduced to 20mph on main roads in five London boroughs this week in a bid to improve road safety.

Transport for London will cut the speed limit on 17 miles of “red routes” under its control in Camden, Islington, Hackney, Haringey and Tower Hamlets from Friday.

This will include main thoroughfares such as Euston Road, Pentonville Road, Mile End Road and Seven Sisters Road.

With many residential roads already limited to 20mph, this means that virtually all roads in the five boroughs will become 20mph.

TfL wants almost 140 miles of main roads - 37.9 per cent of its Red Route network - to have a 20mph limit by May next year, including in 37 town centres in inner and outer London.

This is part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s “vision zero” aim of reducing road deaths to zero by 2041.

TfL has accelerated the roll-out of 20mph limits amid concerns that efforts to make roads safer are veering off course, driven by increased lawlessness by drivers and traffic volumes above pre-pandemic levels.

Speeding is the biggest cause of road deaths. In half of the fatal collisions in London (37 out of 75) in 2021, police reported it as a contributory factor.

TfL commissioner Andy Lord, who confirmed the changes at a TfL board meeting on Wednesday, said it would be a “game changer” in terms of reducing deaths and serious injuries.

Mr Lord said: “If somebody is unfortunately involved in a collision with a vehicle, their chances of survival are so much better if the car is travelling at 20mph or less. We have got to get that message out.”

TfL first consulted on the reduction from 30mph to 20mph on about 17 miles of roads under its control last November.

The changes mean that the lower speed limit will be introduced on sections of the A503, A501, A41, A1, A10, A11 and A1203.

Previous TfL data suggested that the 20mph limit introduced within the congestion charge zone in central London led to a 25 per cent reduction in deaths and serious injuries.

TfL “red routes” account for only five per cent of roads in London but carry about 30 per cent of all traffic.

Mr Lord admitted the introduction of 20mph zones was contentious – and even his own friends failed to see the benefit.

He said: “If there’s one topic that is brought up when I’m out with friends, it’s: ‘Why on earth are you doing 20mph in my part of London?’

“People do not understand it. They don’t understand the safety benefits, and the messaging and the narrative is inconsistent across the city.

“Some boroughs have been absolutely brilliant and have shown leadership. Some others we need to work much harder with. We need to get on the front foot as an organisation to demonstrate this is a game changer.”

Other roads where traffic will be limited to 20mph, either for the length of the road or parts of it, are Finchley Road, Camden Road, Stoke Newington High Street, Rectory Road, Bow Road, Grays Inn Road, Tollington Road, Parkhurst Road, The Highway, East Smithfield and the northern end of Holloway Road, including the Archway roundabout.

TfL chiefs insist that the 20mph limits will be enforced by police.

A total of 565,945 speeding offences have been registered in London since last April – about half of them in 20mph zones.

TfL says it expects the total for 2022/23 to hit 650,000 offences – a 30 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

TfL wants the Met to have capacity to enforce a million speeding offences a year by the end of 2024/25, and has funded new Laser Cam high-tech speed guns.

TfL’s roads safety chief Lilli Matson admitted speeding was “more prevalent” than the enforcement statistics suggested. “There is genuine enforcement by the police,” she said.

As well as 20mph road signs, banners will be attached to increase driver awareness of the new speed limit.

TfL will monitor compliance with the new speed limits to assess whether further measures are required.

Higher speeds will continue to be allowed on “inner city motorways” such as the A406 North Circular Road, though its section between the A10 Great Cambridge Road and Hall Lane in Edmonton will be reduced from 50mph to 40mph.

Last week, TfL revealed plans for more 20mph roads in Greenwich, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Southwark, Wandsworth, Merton, Bromley and Lambeth by October.

Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman, said: "Lowering speeds is one of the most important things we can do to reduce road danger.”

Penny Rees, TfL’s head of healthy streets investment, said: "Speed continues to be a factor in almost half of fatal collisions in London and this is not acceptable. It’s clear that these new 20mph speed limits will save lives.”