EDINBURGH is set to become the first 20mph city in Scotland under pioneering plans to boost walking and cycling.
Speed limits will be reduced from 30mph in all residential areas, shopping districts and streets heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists.
The city centre will also become a 20mph zone.
Only arterial, trunk and main roads will be exempt from the new restrictions.
Expensive traffic calming measures – such as road narrowing and road humps – are unlikely to be widely introduced but additional speed advisory signs would be installed to alert drivers to the change.
The ground-breaking plan, which has been successfully piloted in Marchmont, has been welcomed by cycling and motoring pressure groups, amid evidence that cutting speed reduces accident statistics and road fatalities.
Today, transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said reducing speed limits across large swathes of the city would foster a safer and more pleasant travel environment.
“I think we are the first city in Scotland to talk about bringing in 20mph limits for all residential areas,” she said.
“It will impact all residential areas across the city but these still have to be identified.
“The reduction in speed limit creates less accidents and less likelihood of people dying on the roads.
“Of all the issues cyclists say to me, they are most supportive of cutting speed limits because it makes the roads safe and encourages people to cycle.”
She added that installing chicanes and speed bumps to enforce the new restrictions would “cost a fortune” but said talks would be held with police about enforcing the new speed limits.
A year’s trial in south-central Edinburgh saw motorists’ average speed fall by around 2mph to 20.9mph, however 75 per cent of cars were still being driven in excess of the speed limit.
Ian Maxwell, a spokesman for cyclist campaigners Spokes, said the city was pioneering a new approach to active travel and could see cycling rates soar as a result.
He said: “We think this is going to make a real difference to the streets of Edinburgh because speed is one of the major issues that affect everyone, not just cyclists.
“It will create a more civilised environment with slower speeds.”
And Mr Maxwell said Edinburgh, which has one of the highest cycling rates in the UK, could be elevated to “Continental levels”.
Neil Greig, spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said there was no objection to 20mph zones in residential areas used by a high proportion of pedestrians and cyclists. But he urged caution against slashed speed limits on main roads.
He said: “Our concern is that if you go for a blanket approach, it will cover roads that are obviously safe to travel at 30mph.
“With a long, straight road that is not built up, people tend to pick a speed to drive at based on the environment they are driving through.
“If that environment doesn’t say 20mph then you are going to get a lot of people ignoring this.”
PARKING OVERHAUL SPLITS BUSINESSES
BUSINESS chiefs are divided over plans to limit free Sunday parking to two hours.
Josh Miller, chairman of George Street Association, said the proposals – to be enforced after 1pm – would “protect church congregations” and sounded a “pretty positive move” to help “facilitate the turnover of parking spaces”.
But Gordon Henderson, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said an overhaul of free parking on a Sunday was “fixing a problem that doesn’t exist”.
He said: “It’s working well as it is and there’s no demand to sneak in charges on a Sunday.”
SCHOOL TRAFFIC AXED
SCHOOL streets would be temporarily closed during peak times in a bid to cut congestion.
The radical new measures would see roads surrounding the school shut for between 20 and 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon.
In a public consultation, 59 per cent of people supported the introduction of a pilot scheme.
School councils would have to apply to the local authority should they wish to implement “School Streets”.
A report into the proposal said: “In some cities suitable streets with schools on them are closed for around 20 to 30 minutes at school start and finish times, to create a safer environment.”