LANCASHIRE’s pioneering decision to bring in 20mph speed limits in all residential areas will be highlighted at a major road safety conference in London next year.

The high-profile event will discuss new evidence that lower limits boost walking and cycling, improving public health as well as cutting road deaths and injuries.

Lancashire County Council - which covers Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Chorley - was the first county to introduce the lower limit across all residential streets.

Rod King, founder of the national ‘20’s Plenty for Us’ campaign, will praise its foresight and urge other authorities, including Blackburn with Darwen, to follow suit.

He will host the ‘Time for 20’ conference on February 18 in Camden to discuss a policy paper prepared by the respected Local Government Information Unit.

Its research ‘Area-wide 20mph neighbourhoods: A win, win, win for local authorities’ recommends all councils implement residential 20mph limits.

It highlights public health benefits as reducing road danger through slower speeds is key to promoting active travel by walking and cycling.

The briefing says councils must get people to move and become fitter to combat avoidable deaths through lack of activity.

It highlights statistics showing there was over 20 per cent more walking and cycling in 20mph limit areas in Bristol.

This makes 20mph limits the single most cost effective measure to raise exercise levels and defuse the UK’s ‘inactivity time bomb’.

Mr King said: “This briefing saying area wide 20mph limits are a win is excellent.

“At the conference, I shall highlight Lancashire and appeal for other authorities such as Blackburn with Darwen to move now towards sign-only 20mph zones. They will have to eventually.

“Progressive authorities see lower urban speeds as key to making walking and cycling attractive.”

Blackburn with Darwen Liberal Democrat group leader David Foster said: “How much more evidence does the council need?”

Borough highways chief Maureen Bateson said: “We are running a pilot 20mph sign-only zone in Mill Hill. We are very aware of road safety and target measures on the areas of greatest need.”