20mph speed limit

Description of the scheme

Wirral Council is looking to introduce more 20mph speed limits.

To do this, the borough has been split into different zones, and over the next four years, we will be looking to introduce 20mph speed limits on almost all residential roads across the borough. As part of this process, residents will be asked for their thoughts on the schemes before they are introduced.

You can view the first list of roads to be made 20mph in Spring-Summer 2023 in Wirral:

View list of roads

The introduction of 20mph speed limits is most beneficial in residential, shopping and school areas and therefore each of the zones has therefore been chosen based on the type of area as well as collision data. Main roads (also known as A and B roads) are suggested to keep their current speed limit and not be changed to 20mph unless it (or parts of it) run through local centres (such as residential areas, schools and shopping places or leisure facilities, hospitals and public transport routes). 

More information about the zones and their consultation periods can be found on the council’s Have Your Say website

Benefits of the scheme 

The proposed 20mph speed limits will focus on creating safe and healthy street environments, which work well for all people and help them live active, healthy lives in areas of good air quality.

The speed limits are part of Wirral’s contribution to the Liverpool City Region Road Safety Strategy, which has a vision to reach zero road traffic collisions by 2040, that we adopted in November 2022. 

How the scheme will be funded 

The scheme is funded through the Liverpool City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement Combined Authority Transport Plan. 

Following the Environment, Climate Emergency & Transport Committee in March 2022, it was agreed that more funding would be invested to increase the number of 20mph speed limits across Wirral. This is also to help support a national initiative to reduce speeds and help people feel safer on the road.


Between 5 October and 30 November 2022, we consulted on the first 15 zones and following committee approval in January 2023, where it was unanimously agreed, 20mph speed limits will start to be introduced in these zones. 

To help reduce speeds across the entire borough, there are plans to introduce 20mph speed limits on almost all residential roads across the borough, however, all future plans will be subject to funding, further consultation and committee approval. 

The initial phase of works, to install signs and road markings, will start in Spring 2023.

Why do you want to lower driving speeds?

To help lower the number of collisions on Wirral roads and support Liverpool City Regions vision to reduce road traffic collisions to zero by 2040.
20mph speed limits can create safer environments for everyone, including motorists.

The lower speed limits, by helping people feel safer, will balance the needs of the drivers with the needs of other road users and provide better safety and a better environment for local residents.

Who can enforce 20mph speed limits?

Merseyside Police are responsible for enforcing speed limits across the Liverpool City Region.

Roads that become 20mph, will initially be installed with signs and road markings to inform drivers of the new mandatory speed limits. 

Any fines due to speeding, go to central Government funds, and help to fund speed awareness courses. 

Find out more about speeding on Merseyside Police website

What does it mean for me if my road is on the list? 

If your road is on the list, it means that we will be introducing 20mph speed limits on it. These speed limits will not be implemented straight away. Works will start to install the signs and road markings in Spring 2023.

How have the roads on the list been chosen? 

The borough has been split into different zones. These zones have then been prioritised based on different criteria, which include environmental factors, the type of areas, what amenities they contain, likely user groups, the impact on surrounding roads, and collision reduction potential.Most main roads (also known as A and B roads) are suggested to keep their current speed limit and not be changed to 20mph unless it (or parts of it) run through local centres (such as residential areas, schools and shopping places or leisure facilities, hospitals and public transport routes).

How will 20mph speed limits make a difference to traffic flow and road congestion?

Whilst studies have so far not conclusively proven either a positive or negative effect on the emissions caused by driving at 20mph, research indicates that at slower speeds, vehicles flow more smoothly through junctions, which could help improve traffic flow and adopting a smoother driving style can help to achieve lower emissions.

The greatest environmental benefit from the 20mph speed limits is the increased potential for walking or cycling short distances instead of driving as 20mph will help to reduce speeds and therefore make people feel safer on the road – especially people who are travelling actively.

How will 20mph limits make a difference to air pollution levels?

20mph speed limits could help to reduce fuel consumption and any associated emissions due to reduced acceleration and braking. 

The Department for Transport has guidance which indicates that driving more slowly, and at a steady pace, helps save fuel and carbon dioxide emissions (given that a suitable gear – and not a low gear – is used). Along shorter roads with junctions and roundabouts, limiting acceleration up to 20mph can also help to reduce fuel consumption.

Will 20mph impact the emergency services?

All speed limits (including 20mph speed limits) contain an exemption for vehicles on emergency calls. Emergency service vehicles using blue lights can travel as quickly as they think is safe to do so, based on road conditions (such as how busy it is and the size of the road).

What other alternatives have been considered?

Physical traffic calming measures such as speed cushions are another alternative to reducing speed, however, at this time this alternative has not been considered further as they can sometimes increase traffic noise and without them drivers can have a smoother driving experience.

Traffic calming measures, further enforcement and/or educational measures will, however, be considered in areas where persistent speeding continues. 

Respecting the speed limits in place and taking responsibility for your safety as well as others on the road will make travelling safer for everyone.

Do 20 mph limits work?

National evidence has shown that sign-only 20 mph speed limits can help to reduce average speeds and improve safety. Evidence from a pilot scheme in Bristol showed that the number of people walking and cycling increased and the average speed of vehicles decreased.

A roll out of 20 mph limits in Wirral is an important step in changing the attitudes of drivers and making our communities safer for all. It supports the Liverpool City Region Road Safety Strategy for Vision Zero.

Where are the signs and road markings to be placed?

Where the speed limit changes to 20mph, there will be round “20” road signs to indicate this as well as white “20” roundel markings on the road. This will help to create a gateway feature to the lower speed limit. The 20mph areas will also have smaller, round, repeater signs mounted on lighting columns throughout. Some further white “20” roundel markings will be installed on the road, next to some repeater signs at locations where regularly parked vehicles are not likely to obscure them. The repeater signs will be located at regular intervals to remind the driver of the lower speed limit. They will largely be placed at locations where junctions meet or where vehicle speeds tend to accelerate, such as the midpoint of a straight stretch of road. Once the scheme is complete, the signage, including the spacing between repeater signs, will be sufficient as required by the Department for Transport for a legally enforceable scheme and for the new speed limit to be clear to drivers.

Why have I not been consulted on the placement of signs and markings near to my property?

Public consultation has been undertaken for each of the areas included within phase 1 of the scheme. Public consultation will also be carried out on subsequent phases to be rolled out. However,  there is no requirement for the local authority to inform residents of the introduction of road signs or markings on the public highway, near to their property.

Why are the signs and road markings not being introduced at the same time?

The roll out of 20mph includes the removal of existing 30mph signs along with the introduction of 20mph signs and 20 mph road lining roundels. The signing and road lining work is being undertaken by separate specialist contractors. The lining is a quicker element of the job and therefore, that team are often ahead of the traffic signs team. You may notice that the road markings will be in place prior to the signs being introduced. The reverse could also occur on occasion where signs are in place before road markings. This is the most efficient use of the contractor’s time. Area boundaries are very large and include hundreds of roads, so given the scale of the job, it will likely take some time to have everything completed on site. We understand that there will be a short window where the signs and lines will be out of sync and that this might cause some confusion and we would like to thank the public for their patience on this.