Our 20mph Speed Limit and Zone Policy provide the framework within which we will consider and assess the implementation of 20mh speed limits and zones.

To apply for a 20mph zone please contact your local highways office:

For any information about the policy please contact our Traffic Engineering Team by emailing traffic.management@northyorks.gov.uk.

20mph Speed Limit and Zone Policy

Read the report to Executive on 11 January 2022 here.

This policy is based on the Department for Transport Circular 01/2013 Setting Local Speed limits.

This policy supersedes the existing policy (2006). Its purpose is to provide the framework within which North Yorkshire County Council will consider and assess the implementation of 20mh Speed Limits and Zones.

Policy Framework and Practical Application

The main theme of change in this new policy is to set a clear rationale and assessment process in its application and include the opportunity for greater focus on the sense of place and community, particularly around schools.

Facts and figures will remain the key evidence base for decision making and although the County Council must still act in accordance with the DfT Circular 01/2013 Setting Local Speed Limits that provides the framework, key objectives and practical application of speed limits for local (highway) authorities, there is a recognition that additional consideration is given to how the locality is perceived and could be used with the introduction of a 20mph speed limit or zone.

The County Council must also work in partnership with North Yorkshire Police which has enforcement responsibility for speed limits. Likewise, North Yorkshire Police adhere to the guidance set out in Circular 01/2013 Setting Local Speed Limits and without their support it would be remiss of the County Council to implement a 20mph (or other) speed limit.

Another aim of the revised policy is to ensure consistency in assessment and application throughout the county, therefore a robust assessment process has been developed. A 20mph speed limit or zone must be appropriate for that part of the network and fit with its current or planned change in operation. Importantly, it must also be self-enforcing and operate without a reliance on police intervention.

Introducing a 20mph speed limit or zone to a road(s) where drivers do not already substantially conform to and/or is generally inappropriate for that road(s), will likely result in poor compliance enforcement problems and understandable complaints. Consequently, it may also result in drivers failing to comply with a 20mph speed limit where it has been appropriately applied for road safety reasons.

Also, the County Council has a statutory duty to ensure the expeditious movement of traffic and efficient use of network through the reduction of delay and congestion. Whilst there is a need to encourage lower use of private car and other motorised travel in favour of walking, cycling and other sustainable modes, those measures should not adversely impact the County Council discharging its duties.

It is possible to achieve 20mph speeds through signing and road markings only, on roads with a mean speed 24mph or lower. However, where speeds are in excess of 24mph it is necessary to introduce physical traffic calming measures to forcibly reduce speed e.g. chicanes, speed cushions, priority working systems.

Typically, traffic calming measures are designed to be negotiated by travelling along road(s) at a consistent lower speed. In reality, driver behaviour is often to speed up and slow down between traffic calming features, which can result in greater emissions and noise and generally negate any benefit of the lower limit.

Due to site constraints such as road alignment, the presence of private driveways, side road junctions and the loss of on-street parking, there can be significant challenges implementing traffic calming in North Yorkshire towns, villages and other rural locations. Effectively 20mph speed limits or zones must be self-enforcing by either by formalising existing behaviour or through the implementation of an appropriate system of physical measures where possible.

Notwithstanding the above, the benefits lower speed limits can bring to communities are fully accepted and modal shift is a key objective. Part of delivering this ambition includes investigating the need for 20mph speed limits and zones to make routes potentially safer, more accessible and encourage greater uptake.

20mph Speed Limits and Zones

20mph zones typically cover a number of urban roads and require traffic calming measures with no point within a zone being more than 50m from a physical feature or 20mph sign/roundel. A zone is indicated by entry and exit signage only. Zones are appropriate for roads where average speeds are less than 30mph.

20mph speed limits are signed only roads i.e. without physical traffic calming measures and therefore most appropriate for a road(s) where average vehicle speeds are already low i.e. at or below 24mph.  As per zones, repeater signs or roundels on the carriageway can be used to increase awareness.

Existing 20mph zones in North Yorkshire are predominantly used in the vicinity of schools and moving forward zones can still be used unless motor vehicle movement is the primary function.

When assessing applications for a 20mph speed limit or zone that centre around a school, it is imperative that investigations extend to the widest possible extent to provide a zone/speed limit that captures the maximum number of journeys over the greatest distance to encourage modal shift to active modes of transport such as walking and cycling.

As stated in ‘Department for Transport Circular 01/13 ‘Setting Local Speed Limits’, the Secretary of State has provided special authorisation for advisory part-time 20mph limit signs to be used. The possibility of including these signs in this policy was considered as part of the review however, it was deemed unsuitable as they can be confusing to drivers and therefore the County Council does not support their use on the network, which continues the previous policy position.

Step by step process for a 20mph speed limit

Step 1 – The County Council receives a 20mph request

Understanding the key issues and problems in an area is fundamental. The applicant should clearly indicate the area of concern and set out the reasons/justification for the introduction of a 20mph speed limit or the extension of an existing 20mph speed limit.

Any evidence of road safety issues should be included in the request along with any other information that may be useful such as highlighting any schools or walking/cycling routes. Any application must have local support i.e. the parish/town council and local member must be supportive.

Step 2 – Acknowledge receipt and consider application

Officers will acknowledge the correspondence and if necessary, ask for additional content to enable a response. Officers must be fully aware of the need for action and have enough information to be able to consider a decision.

Step 3 – Carry out an initial desktop assessment 

Taking into account the reasons stated in the application, officers will undertake an initial assessment based on guidance in Department for Transport Circular 01/2013 ‘Setting Local Speed Limits’ and links to NYCC policy supporting modal shift to active travel and consider how the proposal could deliver improvement to the area in terms of place and sense of community.

Officers will determine whether there is merit in a scheme or if the local issues can be resolved in another way(s) without reducing the 30mph speed limit. If inconsiderate parking or an isolated hazard causes the problem, a speed limit request is likely to be declined and another solution is likely to be suggested.

Step 4 – Initial response

Officers will either, confirm 20mph is appropriate (based on guidance and pending further investigation) or explain why a reduction of the speed limit is not appropriate for the highway. 
 
If the guidance in Circular 01/2013 is representative of the existing conditions, the process will move to the next stage. If the guidance demonstrates a reduced speed limit is not appropriate, the response will detail any other options that may be available to address the local concerns. This will be subject to funding being available and prioritisation.  
 
If no further action is required, the reasons will be explained. 
 
Step 5 – Identify funding source

With limited funding and resources available, it is essential a funding source is identified, as no survey or design work for a 20mph speed limit can take place without a suitable budget being identified and available. 
 
Staffing resources and costs should be considered, along with the costs associated with the implementation and future maintenance of traffic signs and road markings. Legal costs should also be calculated. Typically, a speed limit scheme (including legal costs) will cost in the region of £6000 to £10,000, but depending on the area of concern, the final cost could be greater.  The cost of implementing a zone could be significant given the wider area it would apply and the need for the construction of traffic calming measures. 
 
Step 6 - Carry out a detailed assessment including a speed survey 

Any improvement scheme must be driven by evidence i.e. casualty reduction, but when assessing the suitability of a 20mph scheme, this is not the only driving factor. The County Council will be flexible and will consider a number of motivators. Schemes may be approved if local concerns are justified and they will be tailored to suit local needs. 
 
The detailed assessment will take in to account the likelihood of increased active travel and potential improvements to ‘health and wellbeing’ and sense of place and community.  

Officers will check the following criteria before any application is supported: 

  • Links to NYCC policy for modal shift and active travel opportunities 
  • The road is not a network hierarchy Category 2 road 
  • The Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) flow is not considered excessive for that route and not likely to increase significantly  
  • There is a record of speed related personal injury collisions over the last 3 years or there will be a reduced likelihood of personal injury collisions 
  • There are pedestrian and cyclist movements and more will be encouraged by the introduction of a 20mph speed limit 
  • There are suitable characteristics and it is a suitable highway environment 
  • There is a school or other community amenity on the road/in the area 
  • A 7 day speed survey proves the existing mean (average) speeds are at or below 24mph for a speed limit to be introduced. 
  • The change will result in good compliance without the reliance of police enforcement 
  • Vulnerable road user concerns outweigh the disadvantages of longer journey times for motorised traffic 
  • The intervention is likely to improve the quality of life for residents 
  • The scheme is unlikely to attract negative feedback 

The above criteria is not exhaustive and act as a guide of key considerations.  Other factors can be considered as appropriate for that site.  The quantification of some of the above criteria is subjective and therefore all decisions must be evidenced and recorded. 

Step 7 - Scheme design and cost estimate

Keeping street clutter to a minimum, officers will design an appropriate scheme over the agreed extent and within the available budget. The design and total cost will be shared with the applicant for feedback if the scheme is being externally funded in full or in part. 
 
Communities should note that North Yorkshire Police are very unlikely to enforce a 20mph speed limit and that a signed only scheme (without physical measures) is likely to have little effect on existing vehicle speeds. 
 
Step 8 – Consult

If necessary, the scheme will be amended to suit local needs before there is a consultation exercise with North Yorkshire Police and other interested parties/stakeholders. 
 
Step 9 – Final Response

The applicant will be notified of the result of the consultation exercise and given an estimated timescale of the next stages. 
 
Step 10 – Advertisement of traffic regulation order (TRO) 

TRO’s follow a statutory process and are a legal document. 

The proposed reduced speed limit will be advertised in the local press and on site to invite views from the community. Representations can be formally lodged resulting in objections and contentious issues being considered before a scheme proceeds as advertised. Feedback could result in the scheme being modified or abandoned. The TRO process can take many months if there are objections to the scheme to resolve. 
 
Step 11 – Scheme implementation

The approved scheme will be ordered through North Yorkshire Highways as soon as practicable. 
 
Step 12 – Monitor effectiveness to ensure compliance 

Officers will monitor the effectiveness of the speed limit change to ensure it is appropriate. Public opinion and speed survey results will ultimately determine the success of the scheme.  Officers will arrange a repeat of the surveys carried out in the assessment 12 months after implementation. Officers will engage with the local community afterwards to gather feedback and compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ mean speed values. The local community and North Yorkshire Police will informed of the recorded speeds. 
 
If the recorded mean speed value is higher than anticipated and if it continues to be high after further surveys, additional measures to reduce speeds should be introduced to ensure good compliance. These measures should be financed from the original funding source. 
 
Where mean speeds of historic 20mph speed limits are between 25 and 29mph, the addition of traffic calming measures should be a consideration. Traffic calming measures will reduce mean speeds and ensure greater compliance. 
 
If there is evidence to suggest the majority of motorists are travelling in excess of 30mph in any 20mph speed limit, there is clearly a more significant problem to address. It is likely the speed limit is inappropriate for the environment and potentially unsafe due to differences how road users act and perceptions. If this is the case, the County Council must consider reverting back to the original speed limit.  Any increase to an urban speed limit is likely to be unpopular with local residents, but this has to be an option where a 20mph speed limit proves to be unsuitable. 

School Level

No. of Schools

School speed limit by No.

 

 

20

30

40

50

60

Secondary

40

13

23

4

 

 

Primary

275

81

179

9

1

4

Nursery

3

1

2

 

 

 

Special

10

1

2

 

 

 

Private

13

4

6

1

 

2

Other

2

 

2

 

 

 

Total

343

100

214

14

1

6

 

School Level

No. of Schools

School speed limit by %age

 

 

20

30

40

50

60

Secondary

11%

33%

57%

10%

 

 

Primary

80%

30%

65%

3%

0.50%

1.50%

Nursery

1.00%

33%

67%

 

 

 

Special

3%

10%

70%

10%

 

10%

Private

4.00%

31%

46%

7.60%

 

15%

Other

1.00%

 

100%

 

 

 

Total

1

29%

62%

4%

0.30%

1.75%

(As of October 2015 this form replaces ‘Record of decision not to carry out an EIA’)

This form records an equality screening process to determine the relevance of equality to a proposal, and a decision whether or not a full EIA would be appropriate or proportionate.

Directorate

Business and Environmental Services

Service area

Highways and Transportation

Proposal being screened

Revised 20mph speed limit and zone policy

Officer(s) carrying out screening 

David Kirkpatrick

What are you proposing to do?

Seek approval for the revised 20mph speed limit and zone policy

Why are you proposing this? What are the desired outcomes?

Following a review of the existing policy by the

Transport, Economy, Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Executive approved nine recommendations were made to improve and update the existing policy. 

Does the proposal involve a significant commitment or removal of resources? Please give details.

No

Impact on people with any of the following protected characteristics as defined by

the Equality Act 2010, or NYCC’s additional agreed characteristic As part of this assessment, please consider the following questions:

  • To what extent is this service used by particular groups of people with protected characteristics?
  • Does the proposal relate to functions that previous consultation has identified as important?
  • Do different groups have different needs or experiences in the area the proposal relates to?

If for any characteristic it is considered that there is likely to be a significant adverse impact or you have ticked ‘Don’t know/no info available’, then a full EIA should be carried out where this is proportionate. You are advised to speak to your Equality rep for advice if you are in any doubt.

Protected characteristic

Yes

No

Don’t know/No info available

Age

 

No

 

Disability

 

No

 

Sex (Gender)

 

No

 

Race

 

No

 

Sexual orientation

 

No

 

Gender reassignment

 

No

 

Religion or belief

 

No

 

Pregnancy or maternity

 

No

 

Marriage or civil partnership

 

No

 

NYCC additional characteristic

People in rural areas

 

No

 

People on a low income

 

No

 

Carer (unpaid family or friend)

 

No

 

Does the proposal relate to an area where there are known

No.

inequalities/probable impacts (e.g. disabled people’s access to public transport)? Please give details.

 

 

Will the proposal have a significant effect on how other organisations operate? (e.g. partners, funding criteria, etc.). Do any of these organisations support people with protected characteristics? Please explain why you have reached this conclusion. 

 

No

Decision (Please tick one option)

EIA not relevant or proportionate: 

X

Continue to full EIA:

 

Reason for decision

To approve the revised 20mph speed limit and zone policy

Signed (Assistant Director or equivalent)

Barrie Mason

Date

17 December 2021

The purpose of this assessment is to help us understand the likely impacts of our decisions on the environment of North Yorkshire and on our aspiration to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2030, or as close to that date as possible. The intention is to mitigate negative effects and identify projects which will have positive effects.

This document should be completed in consultation with the supporting guidance. The final document will be published as part of the decision making process and should be written in Plain English.

If you have any additional queries which are not covered by the guidance please email climatechange@northyorks.gov.uk

Please note: You may not need to undertake this assessment if your proposal will be subject to any of the following:  

  • Planning Permission
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment

However, you will still need to summarise your findings in in the summary section of the form below.

Please contact climatechange@northyorks.gov.uk for advice.

Title of proposal

Revised 20mph Speed Limit and Zone Policy

Brief description of proposal

To implement a new 20mph speed limit and zone policy that clarifies the context and decision making rationale and set out a definitive application and assessment process.

 

Directorate 

BES

Service area

Traffic Engineering

Lead officer

David Kirkpatrick

Names and roles of other people involved in carrying out the impact assessment

 

Date impact assessment started

15.12.21

Options appraisal 

Were any other options considered in trying to achieve the aim of this project? If so, please give brief details and explain why alternative options were not progressed.

The decision to revise the existing policy was brought about by the publication of the DfT study into the effectiveness of 20mph Speed Limits and Zones. The TEE O&S review considered the findings of that report and explored the evidence to support change of the existing policy. Whilst different strategic approaches were debated the evidence led to the recommendations as set out in the report and the proposed policy is set out in Appendix 1.

What impact will this proposal have on council budgets? Will it be cost neutral, have increased cost or reduce costs? 

Please explain briefly why this will be the result, detailing estimated savings or costs where this is possible.

There is a potential impact on Council budgets through the potential for wider delivery of 20mph speed limits and zones in the future. However, the costs of implementation would substantially be absorbed as part of annual capital funded highways and transportation programmes. 

Potentially a negative impact due to the construction of traffic calming measures and use of concrete materials.  However, this is restricted to implementation only. This could be negated in part by using recycled materials.

How will this proposal impact on the environment?

N.B. There may be short term negative impact and longer term positive impact. Please include all potential impacts over the lifetime of a project and provide an explanation. 

Positive impact

Place a X in the box below where relevant

No impact

Place a X in the box below where relevant

Negative impact

Place a X in the box below where relevant

Explain why will it have this effect and over what timescale? 

Where possible/relevant please include:

  • Changes over and above business as usual
  • Evidence or measurement of effect
  • Figures for CO2e
  • Links to relevant documents

Explain how you plan to mitigate any negative impacts.

Explain how you plan to improve any positive outcomes as far as possible.

Minimise greenhouse gas emissions e.g. reducing emissions from travel, increasing energy efficiencies etc.

Emissions from travel

X    

Lower vehicle speeds can contribute to reduced emissions and air quality improvements.  However, this is not absolute and 20mph zones which require traffic calming measures are reliant on driver behaviour to achieve positive benefits.

Through intelligent design and applying the appropriate measure at the appropriate location

 

 

Emissions from construction     X

Potentially a negative impact due to the construction of traffic calming measures and use of concrete materials.  However, this is restricted to implementation only.  This could be negated in part by using recycled materials.

   
  Emissions from running of buildings   X   None    
  Other   X   None    

Minimise waste: Reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. e.g. reducing use of single use plastic

  X   The establishment of 20mph speed limits and zones will have no impact on reducing waste    
Reduce water consumption   X   The establishment of 20mph speed limits and zones will have no impact on reducing water consumption    

Minimise pollution (including air, land, water, light and noise)

X     Lower speed limits can reduce air pollution through lower vehicle emmissions and also reduce noise.    
Ensure resilience to the effects of climate change e.g. reducing flood risk, mitigating effects of drier, hotter summers  X     The potential for reduced emissions will contribute to the overall resilience to climate change.    

Enhance conservation and wildlife

  X        

Safeguard the distinctive characteristics, features and special qualities of North Yorkshire’s landscape 

X     Lower vehicle speeds, emissions and noise will have appositive effect on improving the highway and surrounding natural and built environments.    

Other (please state below)

X          

Are there any recognised good practice environmental standards in relation to this proposal?

If so, please detail how this proposal meets those standards.

None

Summary

 

In summary, the provision of 20mph speed limits and zones should have an overall positive effect on road user safety, air quality and reduced impact on the natural and built environment in the county.

However, as previously mentioned, where 20mph zones are implemented that include systems of traffic calming, there is a reliance on drivers travelling at a consistent speed rather than speeding up and slowing down between measures, which can negate any positive benefit in terms of emission and noise.

Sign off section

This climate change impact assessment was completed by:

Name: David Kirkpatrick 

Job title: Traffic Engineering Team Leader

Service area: Traffic Engineering

Directorate: BES

Signature

Completion date: 13.11.20

Authorised by relevant Assistant Director (signature): Barrie Mason 

Date: 17/12/21