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GO 20 campaign calls for a 2012 legacy of safe walking and cycling

As survey shows 7 in 10 kids are prevented from walking and cycling by traffic danger

19 November 2012

Brake, the road safety charity
t: 01484 559909, out of hours: 07976 069159 e:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A national campaign launched today (19 November) is appealing to drivers and authorities to GO 20, to bring about a 2012 legacy of safe walking and cycling for everyone. Brake, the road safety charity, alongside a GO 20 coalition, is appealing to drivers to slow down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops. The coalition is also calling for 20mph limits to become the norm across built-up areas, so children and adults can walk and cycle for their health and enjoyment, and for cheap and sustainable travel, without being or feeling endangered.

As the GO 20 campaign is launched in Road Safety Week through street parties and demonstrations across the UK (see below), a survey of more than 8,000 children [1] age 7-11 by Brake, Brain Injury Group and Specsavers reveals how children are being prevented from leading active lifestyles by traffic danger:

  • Seven in 10 (70%) say they would be able to walk and cycle more if roads in their neighbourhood were less dangerous
  • More than three-quarters (77%) say drivers need to slow down around their home and school
  • Four in 10 (43%) say they have been hit or nearly hit while walking or cycling, and more than half (54%) worry about being hurt by traffic when out and about

The GO 20 coalition (Brake, Living Streets, Sustrans, the National Heart Forum, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Ramblers and 20’s Plenty for Us) is highlighting that slower speeds in towns, cities and villages can help deliver a post-2012 legacy of active communities, and prevent devastating pedestrian and cyclist casualties, which increased in 2011 (see below). Many authorities are already recognising the benefits of slower speeds by implementing 20 limits across towns and cities. GO 20 calls for: more authorities to do this; the government to work towards 20mph limits being the norm in communities; and drivers to pledge to GO 20 around homes, schools and shops, even where the current default limit of 30mph remains.

Why GO 20:

  • Fewer casualties: at 20, drivers have much more time to react, to help them stop in time if they need to, like if a child runs out. Studies show that when 20 limits replace 30, it means fewer casualties among pedestrians and cyclists [2].
  • More walking and cycling: danger from traffic is a major barrier in enabling more people to walk and cycle. Town and city-wide 20 limits have resulted in more people walking and cycling [3].
  • Healthier, happier people: More walking and cycling means healthier people, and more enjoyable outdoors activity for kids and adults. It helps communities interact and be communities.
  • Less pollution: GOing 20 means lower emissions from vehicle journeys [4]. Plus if more people can switch their commute or school run to foot or bike, it means less polluting traffic.
  • Lower costs: Poor health from inactivity costs society dearly [5]. Road casualties cost even more, due to the suffering and burden on health and emergency services [6]. Preventing casualties and improving health means GOing 20 pays for itself many times over [7]. It also helps people save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about: foot and bike.

Read more about the case for GO 20.
Quotes from academics in support of GO 20.

Anyone can pledge their support for GO 20 and safer walking and cycling at

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, says: “Everyone should be able to walk and cycle in their community without fear or threat: it’s a basic right, and GO 20 is about defending that. The 2012 Games helped us all realise the importance of being able to live active lifestyles. Critical to this is making our streets and communities safe places we can use and enjoy. Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to GO 20 in communities, even where the limit’s still 30: you’ll be helping to protect people around you, and you’ll hardly notice the difference to your journey. We’re also calling on the government and more local authorities to recognise the need for 20mph, and the huge demand for safe walking and cycling, and GO 20.”

Danny Crates, Paralympics presenter, gold medal winner and GO 20 ambassador, says: “I am passionate about children being able to live healthy, happy, active lives: it’s something all kids should be able to do, not just the privileged few. Bringing about the 2012 legacy we all want to see isn’t only about providing sports facilities. It’s also about making our towns, cities and villages places where kids and adults can get out and about – running, walking, cycling, visiting friends, going to the park – without being put in danger, or even being hurt or killed. That’s why I’m behind GO 20, and appealing to everyone who’s been inspired by the Games to get behind this important campaign.”

Campaign launch events

GO 20 is being launched at a walking and cycling street party in Islington, London’s first 20mph borough:
AT: 10.30am, Monday 19 November 2012
WHERE: Sable Street, Islington N1 2GG
(at the back of William Tyndale Primary School)
children from William Tyndale Primary School will be hearing from Paralympian Danny Crates how great it is to be healthy and active, taking part in a safe cycling demo with Islington Council, carrying out speed checks with Met Police, and celebrating 20mph with their own banners and placards
INTERVIEWS: Brake deputy CEO Julie Townsend; Paralympian Danny Crates; bereaved parents Sue and Dave Britt; injured campaigner Tom Kearney; Chief Inspector Ian Vincent, Metropolitan Police; Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development; vox pops with kids

Other events are happening across the UK, in partnership with local authorities that are GOing 20, emergency services and schools. Find out more from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 01484 559909.

Pedestrian and cyclist casualties

Every day in the UK, 19 adults and seven children are mowed down and killed or seriously hurt when on foot or bike.

In 2011 pedestrian deaths and serious injuries went up significantly, and for the first time in 17 years. Pedestrian deaths increased by 12%, while serious injuries increased by 5%. 466 people were killed on foot in 2011 and 5,654 were seriously injured. Of these victims, 31% (1,901) were children: 50 child pedestrians were killed in 2011 and 1,851 suffered serious injuries.

While cyclist deaths decreased by 2% in 2011, serious injuries increased by 16%. 109 cyclists were killed in 2011 and 3,132 suffered serious injuries. Of these victims, 16% (511) were children: 10 child cyclists were killed and 501 suffered serious injuries. [8]

More survey results

8,061 children age 7-11 gave their views through hands-up surveys in schools across the UK. As well as the results above:

  • 72% said they would like to walk and cycle more than they do at present
  • 75% would like more traffic-free cycle paths in their area, while 61% would like more footpaths, pavements and crossings, which they could use to get to school, the park, shops or to see friends
  • 38% said they are not allowed to walk unaccompanied and 47% said they are not allowed to cycle unaccompanied.

Compare results from different UK regions on this restricted-access web page.

Case studies

Aaron Britt, 16, from Mansfield, was knocked down and killed by a speeding driver outside his college on 3 October 2011. Aaron suffered severe head injuries and died the following day. His mum Sue Britt is supporting Road Safety Week and the GO 20 campaign. Read more.

Sue Britt says: “Aaron was our only son and we feel empty without him. He was an exceptional young lad; he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life and had set about making it happen. I urge drivers to slow down to 20mph or less where people are so you have time to stop if someone steps out. Simply making a commitment to slow down will mean you’re helping to make roads safer, and it could prevent more people losing their lives needlessly, and other families going through the pain and heartache we have. Aaron was kind and thoughtful and did not deserve to die for making a mistake.”

Tom Kearney, 47, of Hampstead, was struck by a bus as he was about to cross Oxford Street at a pedestrian crossing on the busiest shopping day of the year. He suffered severe injuries to his brain and lungs, and was in a deep near-death coma for two weeks. It took Tom two years to recover. Read more.

Tom said: “It took me about two years to rebuild my life because of being hit by a bus. I’m lucky to still be here at all; other people are not so lucky. Drivers can make a big difference in helping to prevent injuries, deaths and suffering by being more aware about the harm they can cause, and taking responsibility for the speed of their vehicles. Drivers should slow right down on shopping streets, in residential neighbourhoods and around schools.  Vehicles have the right to be on roads, but so do pedestrians and other non-vehicle road users. If you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, you also have the responsibility to drive with lives outside your vehicle in mind.”

For media enquiries, to arrange interviews with Brake and bereaved and injured families, and to find out about launch events around the UK, contact us on: 01484 559909 /This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sponsor quotes

Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, says: “We are proud to be backing Road Safety Week and joining Brake in calling for action to protect people on foot and bicycle and make our roads safer for everyone. At Specsavers we think protecting children, families and people of all ages when they walk and cycle is absolutely vital. Allowing more people to walk or cycle safely is good for health, the economy and the environment. Everyone can play a part in making this happen, but drivers in particular can take some simple steps, like committing to slowing down to 20mph where people live, and making sure they have crystal clear 20-20 vision too. If we all get behind this campaign, we can make a huge difference in preventing casualties and making our communities safer places.”

Sally Dunscombe, operations director at Brain Injury Group says: “We are delighted to support Road Safety Week and to play our part in making roads safer for people to walk and cycle. We know from our work that motor vehicle crashes account for half of all traumatic brain injuries, causing terrible suffering and turns people’s lives upside down. Slowing down to 20mph makes an enormous difference in preventing road casualties as it gives you a better chance of stopping in time in an emergency, such as if a child runs out. As well as preventing devastating casualties, if drivers slow down to 20mph it makes our communities more enjoyable places, where people – particularly children – can get out and about without being endangered. We all have a role to play in making this happen, and Brain Injury Group is committed to playing its part by getting behind this important campaign.”

Notes for editors

GO 20 is a partnership campaign being launched by Brake at the start of Road Safety Week 2012 (19-25 November). The GO 20 coalition is made up of Brake, Living Streets, Sustrans, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Ramblers, the National Heart Forum and 20's Plenty for Us. Find out more at

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road Safety Week is the UK’s flagship event to promote safer road use, coordinated annually by the charity Brake and involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations across the country. Road Safety Week 2012 takes place 19-25 November, with support from headline sponsors Brain Injury Group and Specsavers, plus regional sponsors Woop young driver insurance, Bubblebum UK Ltd, Fleet Support Group and Leigh Day & Co Solicitors.

The Brain Injury Group is the UK’s first national network of dedicated brain and head injury lawyers and expert specialists that provides a complete package of support for brain injured people and their families.  If you have been affected by brain injury, you can find a local, specialist, skilled brain injury lawyer and other associated support services to help you at

Good eyesight is imperative to road safety, which is why Specsavers has made a longstanding commitment to promoting the importance of clear vision behind the wheel, working alongside the national road safety charity Brake. The Specsavers Drive Safe road show tours events and town centres across the country with its specially designed trailer. Visitors to the trailer are invited to receive free vision and hearing screening, with experts on hand to answer any questions.

Islington Council is the first local authority in the country to introduce 20mph limits across its roads: main roads as well as side roads. All Islington’s side streets became 20mph in 2010, and a year later the council agreed to introduce the same limit on main roads, to improve safety in the inner London borough.  Work to install new signs and road markings is due to start later this year, to be completed by spring 2013. A small number of major roads in Islington, managed by Transport for London, will remain at 30mph.

Road crashes are not accidents; the use of the term ‘accident’ undermines work to reduce road risk and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by drivers taking risks on roads.

End notes:

[1] 8,061 children gave their views through ‘hands-up’ surveys in schools across the UK, Brake, 2012

[2] For example, 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001;  20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010

[3] Where widespread 20 limits have been introduced levels of walking and cycling increased by 20% Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012

[4] Environmental effects of 30 km/h in urban areas – with regard to exhaust emissions and noise, The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 1999

[5] The annual costs of physical inactivity in England are estimated at £8.2 billion. At least five a week - evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health - a report from the Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, 2004

[6] Road casualties in Britain cost an estimated £34.8billion in 2011, due to the burden on health and emergency services, criminal justice costs, insurance payouts, and human costs. Reported road casualties Great Britain annual reports 2011, Department for Transport, 2012

[7] In Bristol, 20mph resulted in a massive return on investment because of cost savings to the health service through increased physical activity. They used the World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool to estimate the changes in costs. They found for every £1 spent they saw a return of £24.72 through increased walking and £7.47 through increased in cycling. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012.  Reducing speeds in urban environments reduces casualties. For each 1mph speed reduction, casualties decrease by 5%, The effects of drivers’ speed on the frequency of road accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, 2000, fewer crashes reduces the burden on the NHS, emergency services and local economy.  Each death on roads costs £1.7 million and each serious injury costs £190,000, Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2012

[8] These figures are from Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2011, and Police recorded injury road traffic collisions and casualties Northern Ireland annual report 2011, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2012. Figures for children were requested from the Department for Transport and Police Service for Northern Ireland and are for children aged 0 – 17.

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