20mph: Concern over side streets being used to avoid cameras

20mph zones have been introduced in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

20mph zones have been introduced in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

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DRIVERS in the Capital have been shunning main roads in an effort to avoid speed cameras following the second rollout of 20mph, it has been claimed.

The arrival of the city-wide scheme’s second phase has sparked concern that motorists are attempting to get round the new speed limit by using residential streets as “rat runs”.

Concern has been raised about the use of side streets to avoid 20mph zones. Picture; Ian Georgeson

Concern has been raised about the use of side streets to avoid 20mph zones. Picture; Ian Georgeson

Craigmillar is understood to be one of the problem areas, with drivers who flout the new 20mph limit facing £100 fines and three points on their licence.

A fresh petition has now been launched calling for the limit’s next phase – due to be rolled out in July across west and north-west Edinburgh – to be halted for a “sensible conversation” about its approach.

The latest appeal, “Put a stop to further rollout of 20mph in Edinburgh”, currently stands at just over 500 signatures and was set up by Grant MacCusker, founder of campaign group Say No to 20mph.

Mr MacCusker explained he launched the bid after a previous petition – voicing a more general opposition to the initiative – was closed this week after exceeding 5000 names.

He said: “I have noticed a difference, on the basis people are now going on shortcuts.

“For example, on Leith Walk, if someone is going at 20mph they maybe cut along a side street to get to where they are going quicker.

“Nine times out of ten they cut along a street that’s either got a school or a park on it and they bomb along there.

“We want to get them to stop the next phase of the rollout.”

It comes after drivers also voiced concern that the 20mph limit was “encouraging” people to chance crossing in front of what appear to be slower-moving vehicles.

However, not all were convinced, with Spokes cycling campaign group spokesman Ian Maxwell saying he hadn’t come across any rat-running since the start of phase two.

Mr Maxwell said the fact side streets were usually more narrow would make it difficult for drivers to pick up much speed. He added: “I would have thought if it happened it would be a fairly temporary thing and people would go back to their normal routes because often the side roads are slower.

“Going off the main road isn’t necessarily going to give you a quicker journey. I think it’s a fairly fruitless activity.”

The 20mph initiative will be fully rolled out by next January.

Supporters have also shared their experiences of the council-led project, which aims to make the city safer.

Reader Gavin Jeffers said he had “loved” a recent drive across Edinburgh after Tuesday’s rollout.

Posting on the News’ Facebook page, he said: “Much more chilled out to drive and felt like the pedestrians and cyclists were taking back their territory. People are complaining about pedestrians stepping out onto the roads but cars are a relatively new addition to our streets and cities.

“I’d love to see the pedestrians take priority again. It’s so frustrating trying to walk across town.

“Now that it can be easier, safer and more pleasant to walk or cycle, hopefully more people will do so.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk