20mph in Wales

I thought I’d wait a while before commenting on the new 20mph speed limits in Wales. At least until I’d had some time to drive in a variety of areas around the country. I’ve now done that and don’t really know what all the fuss is about.

Driving around Wales

Living in the middle of Cardigan Bay on the West coast of Wales, it’s quite a drive to get anywhere. However, since the new 20mph speed limits were introduced I’ve driven up to North Wales a couple of times and all throughout Snowdonia, I’ve been down to Pembrokeshire a few times, across to Welshpool and all throughout Mid Wales en route to Bristol.

It’s only areas that were 30mph speed limits before that have changed to 20mph – Despite what the media might somewhat amusingly be telling people, it’s not everywhere in Wales that is now 20mph! So, on the longer 2.5 – 3 hour drives the 20 mph limits really don’t make any difference at all. You only actually come across a few here and there.

Most of the villages on A-roads are still at 40mph as these haven’t changed so there’s very little difference. It certainly doesn’t make any difference to your journey time. Our trip to Bristol took 3 hours just the same as it always does and we only came across about five 20mph zones. These were short-lived and often in areas where we couldn’t get to 20mph anyway because of parked cars and traffic. Ironically, we came across just as many 20mph zones once we left Wales and were driving in England.

The same has been true of all the longer trips I’ve made. The 20 mph zones are few and far between and are usually fairly short. There are some places where it feels as though they could go back up to 30mph a little sooner than they do. Here it feels as though you are out of the built-up area onto a more open road so 20mph does feel a little slow. However, these areas might get updated as the zones are tweaked a little, or it might be that there’s a house or a concealed driveway there (or some other hazard) that we didn’t notice.

Driving at 20mph

Some people seem to think that driving at 20mph is difficult. It’s not really. Admittedly my 2.5ltr Diesel camper is quite happy trundling along in 3rd gear at 20mph and the EV car doesn’t have gears so is even easier. However, I drove the little petrol Peugeot 108 on a 5-hour round trip entirely within Wales yesterday and 20mph in 2nd or 3rd gear was never an issue in that either.

The EV is actually lovely to drive at that speed, it’s super-efficient, super-quiet and super-smooth. I actually put it into adaptive cruise-control when I get to a 20mph zone and can then take my feet off the pedals and don’t have to do anything other than steer. It doesn’t get much more relaxing than that when driving! The car keeps itself at 20mph, it slows down if traffic in front slows down and then speeds back up to 20mph when it can.

Yes, 20mph can feel quite slow, but that’s the whole point. Slower is safer, especially for the pedestrians and cyclists around you. The fact that it makes no difference to my journey times and isn’t exactly difficult to do means I can’t really see why people don’t like it. I guess they just don’t like change and don’t like being told what to do. But it makes sense from a safety point of view and it’s ‘no skin off my nose’ (wherever that saying comes from1) so I’m happy to just go with the flow and take a more chilled approach to driving in town. Especially seeing as it’s not long until you’re back out on the open road again.

  1. According to Wikipedia: This saying has been attributed to originating in boxing as a minor blow taking no skin off. ↩︎

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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