Taxis to protest over Edinburgh’s 20mph limits

March organiser Grant McCusker. Picture: Greg Macvean

March organiser Grant McCusker. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A PROCESSION of black cabs is set to bring the Old Town to a standstill today as opponents of a city-wide 20mph speed limit gather to protest.

Up to 20 taxis will take part in a march aimed at demonstrating the strength of feeling against council plans to slash speed limits on 80 per cent of city streets.

Protesters were due to gather from 9.30am at Dynamic Earth, before walking the length of the Old Town down Cowgate, through the Grassmarket and ending up at Palmerston Place.

Organisers say upwards of 100 people could join the march, which will see the Pleasance and St Mary’s Street closed at Holyrood Road, and rolling road closures at Candlemaker Row and along Grassmarket.

The demo promises to be a noisy affair, with cabs honking their horns and a flatbed truck kitted out with a sound system blaring the protesters’ anti-20mph message.

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Businessman Grant McCusker, who has set up the Say No to 20mph campaign, said he had received pledges of support from a number of other trades using the road, as well as taxis.

He said: “There are lots of streets like Leith Walk and St John’s Road where during the day you can never get above 20mph anyway.

“They’re saying it will reduce accidents and pollution, but actually it will cause congestion which will increase pollution and cause accidents because people will be getting irate.

“Looking at other cities like Bristol where this is already in place, all those negative effects have actually happened.

“What will happen in Edinburgh is they will spend £2.5 million just to put up a few road signs – although given what happened with the trams, it will probably be more – and then two or three years down the line, they’ll say it isn’t working and take them down again.

“Why waste the money? Why not do their homework first?”

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“The cabs will all be honking their horns, so hopefully it will generate some noise.”

Laura Lucas, secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, is helping to spread the word among cabbies.

She said: “Driving at 20mph on a night shift at 3am, when you’ve picked people up after a night out to drive them home maybe two or three miles, it just isn’t going to work.

“Folk don’t want to hang about at that time in the morning.

“It’s going to have a knock-on effect on our work. The vehicles aren’t built to travel at 20mph. People have learnt to drive at 30mph. It’s going to be a case of watching your dashboard rather than the road.

“We’re going to try and get as many drivers along to support, either in their cabs or on foot.”

Transport leader Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “Repeated surveys over the past three years, including the consultation last autumn which drew nearly 3000 responses, demonstrate widespread support for slower speeds.”