Oxford To Go All-Out On 20mph Zones

Thu 28th Jul 2022

Motorists in Oxfordshire will be on a permanent go-slow in residential areas after local councillors voted to introduce 20mph speed limits across the board.

Oxfordshire County Council will make Witney the first town in England to implement the lower speed limit in urban and residential areas, just weeks after the Wales government opted to do similar across the nation.

Local politicians hope that the move will make roads safer, less noisy and cleaner, with air pollution reduced. The new limits will be introduced later this year in the Oxfordshire town of Witney, with the expectation that many other towns and cities will follow suit. While London boroughs Islington and Camden introduced similar zones ten years ago, this is seen as a landmark moment for motoring in the UK.

“Witney is the first and the biggest project we are undertaking in this phase of the programme and we believe these changes will make the town a safer, quieter, and less polluted place and will encourage more people to cycle and walk – reducing the county's carbon footprint,” said Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire Country Council’s cabinet member for highways management.

The local authority are to spend £8m on the initiative to lower speeds within the next three years, and the county council claims that many more towns and villages have asked about the scheme.

While 20mph zones have many critics, with some drivers even complaining that they are often overtaken by cyclists, the evidence suggests that there is less danger to pedestrians when a car is driving at 20mph, and there are fewer accidents.

It’s unlikely that the zones will be policed with speed cameras, but that introducing 20mph limits across the board will change the mindset of many drivers.

The statement from Oxfordshire County Council said: ‘While the council has been working alongside Thames Valley Police – who did not object to the 20mph proposals for Witney – the emphasis is on drivers adhering to the new limits through a change of mindset, rather than enforcement. It is hoped that as 20mph areas become more common, breaking the limit will become socially unacceptable for drivers.’