GO 20 goes live today, at the start of Road Safety Week, launched by Brake alongside a coalition of national charities: Living Streets, Sustrans, 20’s Plenty for Us, the National Heart Forum, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Ramblers. We are highlighting the vital importance of people being able to walk and cycle without being or feeling endangered, and that slower speeds in villages, towns and cities are critical to enabling people to enjoy active lifestyles.
Demand for safer streets for walking and cycling is sweeping across the UK, bolstered by the enthusiasm brought about by the Olympics. At the same time, more and more authorities are realising that to bring about more active, healthy, happy communities, reducing traffic speeds is critical. To name a few, Portsmouth, Islington, Warrington, Leicester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Wigan, York, Colchester, Bodmin, Lancashire, Brighton & Hove, Middlesbrough, Bristol and Oxford have made the switch to 20mph limits across most of their urban roads, or are in the process of doing so.
But while some cities, towns and villages are starting to reap the rewards of widespread 20mph limits – an estimated 8.4 million of us now live in these 20mph conurbations  – many more are still waiting, as politicians get up to speed. We’re calling for all our communities to GO 20, to help ensure everyone can walk and cycle – for their health and enjoyment, and for cheap and sustainable travel – without fear or threat.
20mph is much safer for people walking and cycling because drivers have far more chance to react in an emergency and avoid hitting someone: your stopping distance at 30 is nearly double than at 20 . Where 20 limits have replaced 30 limits, it’s resulted in fewer devastating and costly casualties .
Lower speeds are particularly good for children. Research shows children struggle to judge speed when vehicles are doing more than 20mph , yet some drivers expect them to keep out of the way or pay the price. We think kids – and everyone else! – should be able to walk and cycle without their lives being endangered.
20mph encourages more walking and cycling as people feel safer. Few people like dicing with death on their way to work, and no parent wants their child to walk or cycle to school or the park if they fear they could be hurt on the way. Surveys show traffic danger is a major barrier to getting more people walking and cycling . And where town- and city-wide 20mph limits have been introduced, walking and cycling has increased . Aside from the obvious freedom and enjoyment this gives people, it’s also great for public health.
In short, GOing 20 is about happy, active communities: people who care about each other, get out and enjoy their local area, and say hello when they pass in the street. Lower traffic speeds improve the ‘sociability’ of streets: people get out more and are more likely to know their neighbours . In 2012 the UK celebrated a royal wedding, jubilee and Olympic and Paralympic Games. People got together to celebrate and realised they liked it. GOing 20 can help us keep that community spirit ball rolling.
GO 20 calls for more local authorities to switch to 20mph, so more people can enjoy the benefits. But ultimately, we don’t think safe walking and cycling should be a postcode lottery. We want all our communities to GO 20, and that means the government lowering our default to 20mph, to make this the norm across all our communities.
GO 20 also appeals to drivers everywhere to make a difference now, by making a simple pledge: stay well within limits, and slow down to 20 around homes, schools and shops, even where the limit is still 30. You’ll be helping to protect people around you, and you’ll hardly notice the difference to your journey time. In fact, you may find journeys smoother, less stressful, and less costly. GOing 20 really is good for everyone.
Help achieve safer streets for walking and cycling in your area and across the UK by taking a few minutes to back the campaign at www.go20.org.
Read more on the case for GOing 20, why the GO 20 partners are on board, and how you can help your community GO 20: all at www.go20.org.
 Estimated by 20’s Plenty for Us, www.20splentyforus.org.uk
 The Highway Code, Driving Standards Agency, 2007
 For example, 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001; 20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010
 Reduced sensitivity to visual looming inflates the risk posed by speeding vehicles when children try to cross the road, University of London, 2011
 For example, Brake and Bolt Burdon Kemp surveys of commuters and parents on cycling, 2012 and Brake and Churchill survey of parents on walking, 2012
 Where widespread 20 limits have been introduced, walking and cycling levels increased by 20%, Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012
 The contribution of good public spaces to social integration in urban neighbourhoods, Daniel Sauter & Marco Hüttenmoser, Swiss National Science Foundation, 2006; Driven to excess, Joshua Hart, University of the West of England, 2008