20mph limits boost Birmingham fight against obesity

20mph limits boost Birmingham fight against obesity


Cabinet approved the second initial 20 is Plenty project, covering Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green wards and parts of Hodge Hill, Nechells and South Yardley, as part of ongoing efforts to improve road safety.The ’20 is  Plenty’ project is designed to demonstrate the road safety and wider benefits of lower speed limits.

The plan, which will hopefully lead to increased walking and cycling in Birmingham, has been endorsed by the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board. And Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, said: “This 20mph speed limit scheme is great news for Birmingham – especially if you want to walk or cycle. We talk a lot about obesity and the need for people across Birmingham to be more physically active but we have to take action to make that easier.

The success of our Be Active leisure scheme and the growing number of free activities in our parks show what can be achieved if we remove the barriers to that physical activity. “So if we’re serious about people walking or cycling more, it’s vital that people feel safe on roads across the city. We know from similar schemes elsewhere in the country that reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph can significantly increase the numbers of walkers and cyclists and that can only be a good thing.”

Moving people from being physically inactive to physically active is the biggest potential health benefit of transport policies. To achieve this, increasing proportions of the population have to consider the most convenient and pleasant travel option for local journeys to be walking and cycling. Creating safer, more attractive walking and cycling routes through reducing the speed limit to 20 mph will contribute towards a mode shift away from cars to active travel.

Our roads contribute to a number of health hazards and health inequalities; poverty is strongly correlated with air pollution, noise and injuries. Removing barriers to walking and cycling will reduce health inequalities and provide a foundation for the citywide promotion of active travel through smarter choices initiatives.

Health benefits of 20 mph in residential roads

As well as the significant potential direct road safety benefits of encouraging lower vehicle speeds, secondary benefits include:

  • Encouraging a shift to walking and cycling
  • Reduced emissions
  • Increased mobility for children with consequent gains in health and self-esteem
  • Increased inclusion and access for those without motor vehicles
  • Reduced traffic noise
  • Reduced congestion due to ‘School run’ motor vehicles
  • Increased social cohesion
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