20mph zone gets go-ahead on 25 miles of Capital roads

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TRANSPORT chiefs are set to press ahead with a huge 20mph zone after winning public support for the scheme.

The £100,000 pilot scheme, which will be enforced by the police, will see 25 miles of city roads stretching from Blackford Hill in the south to Holyrood Park hit with the new speed limit.

The trial is now expected to start in March 2012 and, if successful, it could be extended across the city permanently.

Edinburgh will become the first Scottish city to attempt the move and one of the first in the UK after a public consultation found the majority of respondents in favour. A total of 76 per cent of those who responded to a council consultation were in favour of the trial, with just 19 per cent against and the remainder “neutral.”

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s transport convener, said: “We undertook an extensive consultation to determine whether local residents and other bodies support the pilot, the first of its kind in Scotland. The results were extremely favourable with over three-quarters of respondents supporting the scheme, the majority of whom were strongly in favour.

“Given the level of support, I hope the transport committee will press ahead with this pilot and encourage other areas of the city to put themselves forward for inclusion.”

He added: “This initiative is one of many set out in the council’s Road Safety Plan for Edinburgh, approved last May, in which we aim to reduce road accident fatalities or serious injuries on our roads to zero by 2020.”

Council bosses hope the move will encourage more people to cycle or walk, helping to achieve the council’s long-term goal of reducing the number of cars on the Capital’s roads.

There are currently 20mph limits on parts of roughly half of Edinburgh’s streets, although they rely on traffic calming measures. In the new zone, around 12 miles of major or secondary roads will remain as 30mph limits, including Melville Drive, Marchmont Road, Charterhall Road, Liberton Road, Gilmerton Road, Morningside Road and Home Street.

Around 17,800 consultation leaflets outlining the proposals were sent to addresses in the south of the Capital in November. Residents could reply via a prepaid tear-off postcard which included a question about their level of support for, or opposition to, the proposals and space for making comments.

There were concerns relating to how the scheme would be enforced and its value for money, but the majority of respondents were in favour of the pilot.

cmarshall@edinburghnews.com