Tweeting about twenty: An analysis of interest, public sentiments and opinion about 20mph speed restrictions in two UK cities

Semwal, Tushar, Milton, Karen, Jepson, Ruth and Kelly, Michael P. (2021) Tweeting about twenty: An analysis of interest, public sentiments and opinion about 20mph speed restrictions in two UK cities. BMC Public Health, 21. ISSN 1471-2458

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Abstract

Background: Twenty miles per hour (20mph) speed limits (equivalent to roughly 30kmh) have become part of public health policies to reduce urban road collisions and casualties, especially in Western countries. Public opinion plays a crucial role in opposition to and acceptance of policies that are advocated for improving public health. Twenty miles per hour speed limit policies were implemented in Edinburgh and Belfast from 2016 to 2018. In this paper, we extract public opinion and sentiments expressed about the new 20mph speed limits in those cities using publicly available Twitter data. Methods: We analysed public sentiments from Twitter data and classified the public comments in plain English into the categories ‘positive’, ‘neutral’, and ‘negative’. We also explored the frequency and sources of the tweets. Results: The total volume of tweets was higher for Edinburgh than for Belfast, but the volume of tweets followed a similar pattern, peaking around 2016, which is when the schemes were implemented. Overall, the tone of the tweets was positive or neutral towards the implementation of the speed limit policies. This finding was surprising as there is a perception among policymakers that there would have been public backlash against these sorts of policy changes. The commonly used hashtags focused largely on road safety and other potential benefits, for example to air pollution. Conclusions: Overall, public attitudes towards the policies were positive, thus policymakers should be less anxious about potential public backlash when considering the scale-up of 20mph speed restrictions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: The authors would like to thank the funding support from Wellcome Trust iTPA and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) [grant number: 15/82/12].
Uncontrolled Keywords: intervention,policy,pubklic health,sentiment analysis,social media,speed restrictions,twitter mining,public health, environmental and occupational health ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2739
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2021 01:44
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2021 17:35
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/81861
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-021-12084-x

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