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Wales to lower default speed limit to 20 mph

The Welsh Government is set to reduce the speed limit in built-up areas from 30 miles per hour (mph) to 20 to improve road safety and encourage more people to walk or cycle.

In a vote on 12 July, the Welsh Parliament passed the law in favour of lowering the default speed limit for restricted roads to 20 mph which will be rolled out nationwide in September 2023.

Eight different communities in Wales are currently trialling these reduced speed limits in residential and built-up areas. The legislation will see an increase from the current 2.5% of Welsh roads with a 20 mph speed limit to approximately 35% by next year.

While the blanket speed reduction has been controversial, Welsh Ministers voted 39–15 in favour of the new legislation to decrease road casualties, lower emissions and motivate drivers to opt for alternative modes of transport such as walking or cycling.

“The evidence is clear. Decreasing speeds not only reduces accidents and saves lives but helps improve people’s quality of life – making our streets and communities a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, while helping reduce our environmental impact,” said Julie James, Welsh Minister for Climate Change.

“We know this move won’t be easy – it’s as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about enforcement – but over time 20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag charges and organ donation. Once again, Wales is leading the way for other UK nations to follow.”

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