PROPOSALS to roll out a 20mph speed limit on major roads and residential areas across the entire Capital have been unveiled by the city council.
Speed limits on roads across the city, including the city centre, Leith, Stockbridge, the West End and Southside, would be lowered under the radical proposals.
The limit will be implemented on all residential streets, main shopping areas, city centre streets, and roads with high levels of pedestrian and cyclist activity.
But despite being marked as potential 20mph areas in the draft plan, a network of major arterial routes such as Queen Street, Leith Walk and the westbound A8 are expected to remain either 30mph or 40mph as transport chiefs attempt to promote public transport and make the city more appealing to walkers and cyclists.
Main shopping areas such as Corstorphine and Portobello high streets and roads near recreational locations such as the Meadows and Holyrood Park should also see 20mph speed limits introduced.Residential streets and those around schools and hospitals will also see the lower limit enforced.
A detailed map highlighting the suggested network of new 20mph and 30mph routes has been unveiled and is available to view on the Edinburgh City Council website. If approved the overall project would cost an estimated £2.5 million to implement.
Enforcement will mainly involve education and engineering measures, such as signage and speed bumps; however, community police officers with handheld speed guns are also a possibility, as revealed by the Evening News last week.
Leading cycle and pedestrian bodies have praised the plans while motoring organisations have also been largely supportive.
The proposals will now go out for a year-long public consultation and subject to approval will be implemented in September 2015.
City transport convenor and Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “We cannot stress enough that these are only draft proposals, nothing is cast in stone.
“We are asking for people’s input as we are well aware that different people will have different views on which road should be 20mph and which road should be 30mph.
“I would urge anyone who wishes to add their voice to this debate to look at the plans online or attend their Neighbourhood Partnership or community council meeting.”
Cllr Hinds also told how the initial draft proposal was drawn up following consultation with representatives from a number of groups such as Police Scotland, the taxi trade, walking and cycling bodies, community councils and motoring organisations. She added: “Through these meetings it became quite clear that there is widespread
support for a 20mph limit in residential and shopping areas.”
Bus chiefs have given their support to the roll-out but voiced concerns that speed bumps should be avoided wherever possible.
This request has been largely accepted by the council, which has stated that they will not be used on those streets most likely to carry bus
Lothian Buses chief executive Ian Craig said: “We note that the council intends to liaise with bus operators on how best to implement any specific schemes and we look forward to working with them to ensure that our bus services can still operate efficiently for the benefit of our passengers.”
David Spaven, of Living Streets Scotland, was also supportive of the plans labelling them “a real step in the right direction”.
He also pointed toward a recent survey compiled by the charity which showed that one third of all trips by Edinburgh residents are made on foot.
“People overlook walking as a mode of transport, but it’s second only to the car.
“If you reduce the speed, you obviously reduce the danger and intimidation that many cyclists and pedestrians feel on city streets, you also reduce injuries and noise levels,” he said.
“The council has unveiled some good transport policies in recent years but the correct infrastructure must be put in place too.”
At present, under a council pilot project, around 2000 streets in the south of the city operate lower speed limits, controlled through speed bumps and traffic calming measures.
Alex Wilson, of Leith Business Association, said of a wider 20mph limit being rolled out in the north of the city: “I think it’s common sense really.
“The issue is main arterial routes, I don’t think anyone would argue for more than 20mph on a residential street or a road containing a school or hospital.
“However, I wouldn’t particularly like to see Leith Walk becoming 20mph even though it is largely a shopping area. The road is wide enough for 30mph and to reduce the speed would only have a knock-on effect on buses.”
This view was voiced by Gordon Henderson, from the Federation of Small Businesses, who said: “To be honest it’s difficult to get above 20mph on most city centre routes anyway so I don’t see the fuss. Main roads and those roads wide enough to take traffic should obviously be kept flowing as smoothly as possible, a blanket 20mph limit would affect this.
“People often tend to forget that away from the city centre Edinburgh has some great town centres such as Portobello and Corstorphine and 20mph would really help them. You make the traffic slower and you make the area safer for shoppers and more attractive to visitors.”
Asked what he thought the impact of a lower speed limit on those entering the city for work would be, he said: “On main routes there’s definitely a case for 30mph or 40mph but it’s pretty hard to argue a case for those who drive down rat runs or residential streets at more than 20mph.”
An ambitious target of reducing overall car journeys by city residents to 31 per cent by 2020 from its current figure of 43 per cent was set by city chiefs back in February.
Key to achieving this is encouraging more public transport use through buses and trams twinned with an increase in the numbers walking and cycling.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and co-convenor of the cross party group on cycling, questioned whether the rollout could be implemented sooner.
She said: “The council is going in the right direction but the success of this plan will depend on how well lower speeds are enforced.
“I’m very disappointed that the city has to wait two years for this fairly straightforward measure to be put in place, and am not convinced that such a long consultation is needed given the high public support for lower speeds.”
The first city in the world to implement a 20mph limit was the Austrian city of Graz in 1992. When first introduced the speed limit had less than 50 per cent support, but within two years this had risen to more than 80 per cent.
The scheme also achieved a 12 per cent reduction in collisions with slight injuries and a 24 per cent reduction in serious injuries.
Future travel on the city’s roads
THE draft proposals put forward for consultation by the council have earmarked large parts of the Capital as potential 20mph zones.
Residential areas in Portobello, Oxgangs, Sighthill, Clermiston, Blackhall, Craiglockhart, Comiston and Leith are among those which would see speed restrictions cut back if the plans get the backing of local residents. Most of the city centre, and streets around the Meadows are also earmarked for the restriction.
But while large sections of main routes such as Melville Drive, London Road, Dalkeith Road, Morningside Road, Dalry Road, Leith Walk and Fountainbridge – as well as Queen Street, York Place and Broughton Street – have all been suggested as possible 20mph zones, it is expected that many will remain 30mph zones following consultation.
By Neil Greig, The Institute of Advanced Motorists
This has been coming for a long time and seems to be well accepted in Edinburgh, we have had no real concern from our members.
No one is suggesting that because you drive a car you have a right to roar through a city centre, but a sensible approach must be adopted in terms of 30mph and 40mph on main arterial routes. There will be other individual roads that will become an issue as wider roads do not feel like they should be 20mph.
Overall, though, there is no real road safety issue in the centre of Edinburgh in terms of speed, as you barely get above 20mph anyway.
What is being represented here is a character change in terms of traffic in the city centre, changing the speed limit to 20mph encourages more pedestrians and walkers.
What annoys motorists is the thought there will be greater enforcement or a crackdown on them doing say 24 mph or 25mph on a 30mph road by heavy-handed police.
A 20mph limit is largely self-enforcing through signage and other road measures, there is no real need for police officers with speed guns, they don’t have the technology or resources anyway.
The main fatalities on our roads occur on rural faster roads and that is where they should be deployed not catching people doing 23mph in the city centre.
Good design and widespread consultation is the key to the successful roll-out of 20mph zones as a road safety tool because limits that match the road environment enforce themselves.