Lewisham Council - 20mph borough speed limit

20mph borough speed limit

We have a borough-wide 20mph speed limit which came into effect in September 2016. 

The borough-wide limit is expected to bring about a culture change over time where it becomes ‘socially unacceptable’ to drive more than 20mph in Lewisham, in the same way as drink driving or not wearing a seat belt currently is.    

Why have a 20mph borough-wide speed limit?

Slower speeds are safer for all road users. 20mph speed limits encourage more considerate driving, leading to safer streets for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Analysis has shown that lower speeds reduce the risk and severity of road collisions for drivers and their passengers too.  

Reducing traffic speed also helps people feel more confident about being on their local streets. This results in more children walking to school and elderly people feeling more able to travel independently and safely.    

On the whole, calmer road speeds help to make walking and cycling more attractive leading to less traffic congestion, better health, less noise, more social interaction and stronger communities.    

Are all roads in Lewisham included?

No. Roads that are managed by Transport for London (red routes) are not included at this time. These are primarily the South Circular (A205), New Cross Road (A202), Bromley Road leading to Lewisham High Street (A21) and Lewisham Way leading to Lee High Road (A20). Private roads or those on housing estates are not included in the borough-wide limit.   

How will I know I am in a 20mph zone?

At the entrance to all borough roads 20mph signs are in place. On roads that border red routes there are clear signs informing drivers of the speed change limit. Smaller '20' repeater signs are placed at regular intervals on either side of the road. There may also be 20mph flashing Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) to remind drivers to keep to the new lower speed limit on certain roads if required. 

When will it be introduced?

The process of introducing a borough wide 20 mph speed limit was launched in May 2014 and the programme of work has already started. The next step is to take speed audits on a number of roads for 'before and after' speed surveys.

​Programme timetable ​Start ​Finish
Planning/inception stage
​Data collection and analysis ​May 2014 ​June 2015
​Key stakeholder consultation ​June 2015 ​Sep 2015
​Review design guidelines, sign audits and design ​Sep 2015 ​Mar 2016
​Consultation and campaign messages ​Jan 2015 ​Mar 2018
Delivery stage
​Traffic order applications ​Mar 2016 July 2016​
​Implementation ​Sep 2016
​Monitoring ​Sep 2016 ​Mar 2018
​Design options for roads with low compliance ​Oct 2016 ​Oct 2017
​Implementation of remedial measures Jan 2017​ ​Mar 2018

Will it be permanent?

It is intended that the new speed limit will be permanent and thorough monitoring will be carried out.

How will it be enforced?

The police have responsibility to enforce all speed limits. The police have said the 20mph speed restrictions will be treated in the same way as any other speed limit. We do not expect everyone to drive within the 20mph limit from the outset, but over time, we expect compliance to increase.

There is also a package of measures to help manage speeds which include engineering, visible interventions and landscaping standards that respect the needs of all road users and raise the driver's awareness of their environment, together with education, driver information, training and publicity.    

Does it apply to cyclists? 

The speed limit is intended to make the roads safer for all road users.  Although at the moment there are no speed limits for cyclists alone, people on bikes are expected to ride in a safe manner especially in shared areas. A cyclist can be prosecuted for riding with undue care.  

Will it clutter the area with signs?

Larger signs (600mm diameter) are needed at the entrance points to the borough and smaller repeater signs (300mm diameter) are required at regular intervals, approximately every 150 to 200 metres. We have designed the scheme to put signs on existing poles or lampposts where possible and to keep the number of signs to a minimum. Existing signs in affected areas will be reviewed and indications are that we can often remove many redundant signs. 


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