20mph speed limits have had ‘horrendous’ impact on London’s taxi trade say drivers

20mph speed limits have been introduced across many part of London Pic: Maraam Nusair

 Taxi drivers have attacked the new standard 20mph speed limit that has been imposed on 17.5 miles of roads across boroughs in north and east London. 

Transport for London began introducing the reduced speed limits in Tower Hamlets, Camden, Islington, Hackney, and Haringey in March last year as a way to make the roads safer. 

While the introduction of the lowered speed limits has been positively supported by organisations such as Tower Hamlets Wheelers, who have been campaigning for reduced 20mph speed limits in the borough since 2014, taxi drivers around London are fighting against the reduced speeds. 

David Wills, who’s worked as a black cab taxi driver for four years, said he’s received a “£100 fine and three points” on his driving license for doing 24mph in a 20mph speed limit zone at one o’clock in the morning when ‘no one was around’. 

“It’s absolutely horrendous, and it puts the admissions up because the exhaust doesn’t get hot enough at that speed. It’s got to be 30mph or above.” 

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), has described the reduced speed limits alongside limited drop-off areas as the “perfect storm that’s eating the industry, all of which are countering efforts to recover from the pandemic.” 

With many residential roads throughout the areas already limited to 20mph, this means that virtually all roads on both TfL’s Road Network and the Borough Road Network across the five boroughs have a limit of 20mph.  

Black Cab Taxis have received numerous fines and points for speeding. Pic: Maraam Nusair

These new speed limits have had a major impact on taxi drivers throughout London, resulting in strictly enforced fines and speeding tickets. The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three points added to licenses.  

McNamara told a meeting of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee recently that the enforcement of penalty points by TfL has caused ‘major problems.’ “[On] all of the side streets, I don’t think anyone would argue against 20mph speed limits, certainly not us. But since the mayor’s introduction onto the TLRN, we’re looking at roads like Finchley Road, [in Camden] which is a three-lane dual carriageway in either direction.” 

TfL has argued that reduced speed limits across London are making the city’s roads safer by reducing deaths and injuries.

The new speed limits were introduced as a key part of the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero plan, aiming to eliminate serious road injuries and deaths to zero by 2041. The limits have also been introduced in parts of Lewisham and Croydon and elsewhere in London. Data shows that the likelihood of death of a pedestrian being hit by a car travelling at 20mph is just 2.5% in comparison to 90% at 40mph. 

McNamara said traffic reduction schemes were 'ableist' by limiting drop-off areas which has meant that “finding somewhere to stop is very, very difficult" resulting in cab drivers being forced to choose between getting ticketed or dropping off elderly and disabled people in inaccessible areas. 

TfL runs about five percent of all roads within London and wants almost 140 miles of main roads - 37.9 per cent of its Red Route network - to have a 20mph limit by May next year, affecting 37 town centres in inner and outer London. 

Christina Calderato, director of Transport Strategy and Policy at TfL also told the committee: “Our job at TfL is to balance the needs of all our users, and that includes disabled people, people who are reliant on public transport, people who want to walk and cycle, and we need to design those schemes in a way that tries to balance the needs of all users.” 

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