Police plan 20mph blitz around Edinburgh schools as pupils return

Mayfield Road 20mph zones in Edinburgh Pictures; Neil Hanna
Mayfield Road 20mph zones in Edinburgh Pictures; Neil Hanna
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MOTORISTS face a crackdown from police enforcing the Capital’s new 20mph speed limit as children go back to school.

Officers are expected to step up action against drivers who ignore the new limit which was introduced two weeks ago in the city centre and rural-west of Edinburgh.

The Reducer, the 20mph mascot

The Reducer, the 20mph mascot

Some schools already have an established 20mph limit on roads around their buildings, but the new blanket speed cap means all schools within the affected areas will now be covered by the lower limit.

The first two £100 fines for breaking the 20mph cap were handed out within days of the July 31 launch. Police have also been issuing formal warnings to motorists.

City transport leader Councillor Lesley Hinds promised when the new limit was introduced that special attention would be given to areas around schools.

The council says driving more slowly reduces both the number and severity of injuries in road accidents.

A pedestrian is seven times more likely to survive if hit by a car driving at 20mph than if hit at 30mph.

Police today said road safety near schools would once again become a priority once the summer holidays come to an end.

A spokesman said: “Vulnerable areas, particularly around schools, will be given due attention in the interest of casualty reduction.”

The new limit, which is due to cover 80 per cent of the Capital’s streets by January 31, 2018, is the first of its kind in Scotland.

It is being rolled out in stages, with the second phase – covering the north of the city – scheduled to start on February 28 next year.

But the city’s Conservatives are considering including a promise to scrap the 20mph limit in their manifesto for next year’s council elections.

Meanwhile, residents in some areas said the new limit appeared to be working well, while one taxi boss said city centre congestion meant no-one could reach 20mph anyway.

David Buchanan, chairman of Kirkliston community council, said it was noticeable that traffic was moving more slowly since the 20mph limit was introduced.

And he said some residents had commented they felt safer with the new lower limit.

“The majority of people are observing it, although a few are not,” said Mr Buchanan.

“There is a general acceptance it’s here to stay. But there are some stupid people who flout it – early on Sunday, when there was no other traffic on the road, there were a couple of cars going like bats out of hell – about 40-50mph. We’ve not seen the police out at all. Their presence would be reassuring.”

But in the city centre the new limit is not making any difference, according to Tony Kenmuir of Central Taxis.

He said in the areas covered by the 20mph cap the average speed of traffic was already just 22mph.

“And you have to remember that for the last couple of weeks we have been in the thick of the Festival, so the traffic has not been moving at anything like 22mph,” he added.

“We’re nose to tail, overtaken by cyclists left and right, so you can call the speed limit whatever you like but has anyone noticed any difference? I haven’t.”