20mph speed limits come into force in areas of Capital

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THE wait is finally over – it’s time for drivers to slow down.

After months of preparation, a vast new swathe of the Capital will take on a 20mph speed limit after the second phase of the city-wide scheme comes into force.

Costing around £2.2 million to implement, the initiative comes as part of an on-going bid to make the city’s roads safer by reducing the number of road traffic accidents.

Phase two will see a number of new roads across the city come under a new 20mph zone, with drivers caught flouting the limit facing the threat of £100 fines and three penalty points.

It follows the introduction of phase one last year, which saw roads in the city centre and parts of rural-west Edinburgh brought under a 20mph limit from July 31.

Police have warned they will be making “proactive” checks in a bid to ensure motorists stick to the new limit, saying warnings and fines would be given out where appropriate.

A sign warns motorists of the impending 2nd phase of the 20mph speed limits. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A sign warns motorists of the impending 2nd phase of the 20mph speed limits. Picture: Ian Georgeson

It’s a topic which has divided opinion across the city, although a recent opinion poll on the News’ website suggests residents could be warming to the idea.

READ MORE: 20mph poll divides opinion among Edinburgh residents

Neil Greig, head of policy for Scotland at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said the potential shift in opinion could be down to drivers not having felt much of an impact since the rollout of phase one.

He said: “I think a lot of people in Edinburgh were concerned that it would cause a problem for them but it’s made little impact because people are going slowly anyway on most of these roads.

The Capital's rollout of 20mph speed limits. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Capital's rollout of 20mph speed limits. Picture: Ian Georgeson

“What has happened is people maybe were concerned that there was going to be a sudden surge – hundreds of tickets issued – and people feeling hard done by that they were driving at a speed that they weren’t used to.

“But in reality there’s been very little enforcement so people’s fears about lots of tickets being issued have been reduced which could lead to the more positive view of it.”

He added: “If you really want to change driver behaviour you have got to change the whole layout of your roads and invest a lot more money.

“Our view is we don’t object to these 20mph zones but when you spread them so thinly across a whole city area the impact is likely to be very little.”

Our front page of today's edition.

Our front page of today's edition.

The project, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, will eventually cover 80 per cent of the city’s streets with the phased completion set to be wrapped up by the end of January next year.

While a host of roads will take on the new limit, a network of key arterial roads across Edinburgh will stay at 30mph and 40mph.

When it was introduced last year, council chiefs said the scheme would bring with it a host of benefits such as “making streets more people-friendly, promoting active travel, and thereby improving public health, and reducing the risk and severity of road 
collisions”.

But the scheme has left a deep division in opinion, with some arguing there is minimal evidence to suggest it will reduce the number of accidents.

Mansour Marouf, who has been a driving instructor in Edinburgh for 30 years, called the scheme a “fiasco” and said conflicting road signs had been a regular source of confusion.

He said a 20mph limit made sense in some areas, for example near schools, but that it was inappropriate for more free-flowing streets.

“The only people who will have to do it is people who are learning to drive and driving instructors – the public will not adhere to it,” he said.

“The first phase was more or less OK because it was in the city centre but now they are moving it into the outskirts of the city and the roads are wide enough for 30 so they are going to create more pollution, more congestion and more road rage.”

More information about the new speed limit and which roads it will affect can be found on the city council website.

The Evening News will hold a Facebook Live interview with Cllr. Lesley Hinds tomorrow morning at 8.45am. Follow the interview and ask her your own questions here