Requesting a 20mph restriction

Towns and parishes may be able to apply to change restrictions on residential roads.

The proposal

Oxfordshire County Council is considering plans to deliver more 20mph restrictions in towns and villages across the county.

The proposal is aimed to:

  • make streets safer
  • encourage residents to walk or cycle
  • reduce noise and pollution.

The scheme – which follows a government initiative – will need to be supported by parish and town councils backed by county councillors in areas. It will not be compulsory, and the changes can be reversed if they don’t work.

Measures can range from a simple change of speed signs to more complex solutions in areas that can range from a whole village or a single street. Speed cameras and road humps will not be used.

The introduction of 20mph restrictions in other areas has already cut speeds and accidents.

A proposal for the county will be considered on Tuesday 19 October. Agenda for Cabinet on Tuesday, 19 October 2021, 2pm (item 12).

How to ask for 20mph restrictions

  • If you are a resident, contact your local parish or town council.
  • If you are a parish or town council, you will need the support of your local elected county council member and then you can apply using the link below.

Which areas are eligible

The area of the proposed restriction should not have a speed limit that is greater than 40mph. It can be a whole village or town or just one street within the area.

It should be in an area with features that justify a lower speed limit to drivers, for example, an area which has:

  • evidence of traffic incidents or potential dangers
  • visible homes, shops and businesses
  • a school or a school route
  • a cycling route
  • a quiet lane designation.

Or it should be an area which would benefit from more active travel such as cycling and walking, better air quality.

The application must be supported by:
  • the local town or parish council and local county council elected member
  • Thames Valley Police.

Funding for the scheme

Funding is being considered as part of the council's budget setting process.  This will be agreed upon by the full council in February 2022.

How to apply online

If the scheme is approved an online application form will be available here on Tuesday 19 October.

How we assess an area

We will meet the parish or town council after assessing an area.

The following factors will be considered in order of importance: 

  • Numbers of people killed or seriously injured
  • Minor accidents
  • Near-misses 
  • Includes a school walking route 
  • Number of pedestrians crossing the road 
  • Includes homes and business
  • Includes a financial contribution
  • Help to deliver other highways aims or policies.

Who will enforce it

Thames Valley Police will enforce a 20mph speed limit where evidence shows that there is a need to do so.  They are unable to enforce every location due to resource constraints.

Town and parish councils are encouraged to set up community speed watch programmes.

The council will not profit from the introduction of 20mph restrictions. Speeding fines are sent to the UK treasury.

How motorists will know they are in a 20mph area

Larger signs will mark the entrance and exit of a 20mph area where the speed limit changes. These signs will be supplemented by smaller repeat signs or road markings.

Will street signs and markings increase? 

The design will rely primarily on signs and road markings. Care will be taken in conservation areas and around historic buildings.

If further measures are needed to maintain lower vehicle speeds additional methods will be considered, for example, build-outs and variable speed messaging signs. Speed humps and cameras will not be considered.

How long it will take

The programme is being carried out in phases because of the number of streets involved. It is a big change for the county and we need to ensure that we are working methodically and efficiently while assessing the risks.

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 6 per cent 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 emissions to rise slightly and some to fall. Reduced acceleration and braking may help to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions. Some environmental benefit from the change is expected from helping to encourage walking or cycling short distances instead of driving.

Longer journeys

Research in other cities, suggests that journey times will not significantly increase.

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 – around November 2022.

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

If the scheme does not work, we can revoke the speed regulation.

Emergency vehicles

All vehicles answering emergency calls will be exempt from the speed limit.

Oxfordshire pilots

We are carrying out pilots in five areas to find out the impact of a simple change of road sign from 30mph to 20mph.

Any town or parish council can be part of a trial but fully developed schemes will need to be submitted.

You can express an interest in being part of a pilot by contacting us.

Projects already in progress

You can choose to pause your application until a broader programme of works is rolled out.