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The 20mph transformation programme

The council is rolling out 20mph as the new 30mph for communities where there is local support.

The 20mph transformation programme

Following a change to the way that town and parish councils can request an amended restriction in their area, the authority has had a large volume of requests for the schemes.  To accommodate all of the requests utilising the correct democratic process the authority has split the programme over three phases/years.

  • Phase 1 delivery 2022/23
  • Phase 2 delivery 2023/24
  • Phase 3 delivery 2024/25

Details of the Parish and Town Councils who have applied for the programme

Applications for phases 1 and 2 are now closed as we are currently accepting applications for phase 3 for delivery within 2024/25.

The phase 1 programme is being waked, talked and designed at the present time with our term maintenance provider.  Some schemes may move within the programme for operational reasons.  The programme will be kept up to date monthly with any changes being communicated to the local elected members and requesting town or parish council.

The 20mph restrictions will:

  • make streets safer by reducing speeds and enabling a more equitable use of the road space for all users (vulnerable road users, sustainable transport, businesses and car users)
  • encourage residents to walk or cycle by reducing speeds
  • reduce noise and pollution by amending the way vehicles accelerate/deaccelerate

The initiative will not be compulsory (but the greater level of coverage we attain across the county the greater level of compliance we will gain) and needs to be supported by the parish/town council and by the local county councillor.

The authority will support measures from a simple change of speed signs to more complex engineered solutions in areas that can range from a whole village or a single street. The authority will not provide speed cameras or road humps as part of the programme.  Officers will work with local bodies to establish the best methods for ensuring compliance within their areas.

The introduction of 20mph restrictions in our 2021/2022 pilot areas has already reduced speeds by up to 4mph.  This has really benefitted the local communities and it will help to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents.

A proposal for this new approach was approved on 19 October 2021. Agenda for Cabinet on Tuesday, 19 October 2021, 2pm (item 12).

Funding of £8 million to deliver the programme was approved by cabinet in February 2022.

Which areas are eligible

Any areas whereby there is a mixture of vulnerable road users and vehicles will be considered if the existing speed limit is 30mph. 

The area of the proposed restriction should not have a speed limit that is greater than 40mph.

The authority will consider amending limits that are directly adjacent to a proposed zone.  For example, where a 60mph limit is currently in place and motorists would approach a new 20mph limit without clear visibility of the revised limits.  In this instance, we would seek to implement a 60/40/20 limit to reduce the speed of vehicles entering into the revised limit. 

In general, a new 20mph limit should be in an area with features that justify a lower speed limit to drivers, for example, an area that has:

  • evidence of traffic incidents or potential dangers within an existing 30/40mph
  • vulnerable road users e.g. pedestrians (of all ability), cyclists, equestrian users and motorcyclists)
  • visible homes, shops and businesses frontages
  • a school or a school route
  • a cycling routes
  • a quiet lane designation
  • an area that would benefit from more active travel such as cycling and walking

The evidence

Safer roads

Research by the UK Transport Research Laboratory has shown that every 1mph reduction in average urban speeds can result in a six percent fall in the number of casualties. It’s also been shown that you are seven times more likely to survive if you are hit by a car driving at 20mph, than if you are hit at 30mph. If a child suddenly steps in front of a car, you are much less likely to seriously injure or kill them if you keep to a 20mph limit.


Research shows that slower speeds encourage a smoother driving style with less stopping and starting which helps traffic to flow. Evidence from other areas shows that slower speeds encourage more people to walk and cycle.

Air pollution

Driving at 20mph causes some vehicular emissions to rise slightly (mainly Heavy Goods Vehicles) and some (car) to fall. Reduced acceleration and braking will help to reduce fuel consumption and the associated particulate emissions from items such as tyres and brakes.

Longer journeys

Research in other cities, suggests that journey times do not significantly increase.  Where proposals are requested on a bus route the authority will work with the bus companies to assess the likely impact on bus journey times to enable a balanced approach to be taken. 

Monitoring the zone

We are carrying out a variety of ‘before and after’ surveys as part of the monitoring programme for the 20mph network which will be assessed a year after the completion of phase 1 – we aim to share this data in early 2023.  Further monitoring will be undertaken in 2024, 2025, and then again in 2029.  This will enable the authority to get a balanced overview of this programme's benefits to our communities.

Can a scheme be removed if it doesn’t work?

If the scheme does not work, we can revoke the speed regulation/ or part of the regulation.

How motorists will know they are in a 20mph area

Signs and lines will be installed in line with the relevant traffic and road safety traffic signs manuals.

A county-wide marketing campaign will ensure that if a new area is changing to 20mph local residents are informed in advance.

20mph signs will mark the entrance and exit of a 20mph area where the speed limit changes. Smaller repeat signs and or road markings will supplement these signs.

Drivers of any vehicle should drive according to the Highway Code and as such, they should be aware of the speed limit they are currently in.

Making 20 the new 30

Video transcript

0:00 - cartoon of a car travelling down a road with pollution

0:02 Voiceover saying "we all want safer roads and cleaner less polluted air so Oxfordshire county council is changing the pace on our roads to 20 miles an hour see how your community can cut to 20 at oxfordshire.gov.uk/20 mph.  Oxfordshire county council creating a safer pace for a safer place."