Residents oppose Capital 20mph zone in new poll

20mph speed limits have divided opinion in Edinburgh. Picture; Jon Savage
20mph speed limits have divided opinion in Edinburgh. Picture; Jon Savage
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CITY residents are still far from convinced by new 20mph speed limits being enforced in the Capital, according to an online poll carried out by the Evening News.

Our straw vote saw 83 per cent of the 2279 respondents say they did not think there was enough available evidence that it made the streets safer.

The expanded 20mph zone will take be enforced from February next year

The expanded 20mph zone will take be enforced from February next year

Just 17 per cent said they backed the new limits – which will be rolled out across great swathes of the city from February.

However, the scheme, which has already been implemented across parts of the city centre and rural west Edinburgh, was commended at sustainable transport charity Sustrans Scotland’s third annual “Raising the Standards” day this week.

Neil Greig, head of policy for Scotland at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said surveys from the council appeared to suggest people were broadly in favour.

He said: “When you start to talk to people across the whole city you start to get a different point of view.

“If you talk to people in the centre they are quite supportive because it is affecting them directly but the people trying to get across the city don’t see it as adding any benefit.

“The other thing which has changed over the last couple of years is we are now enforcing 20mph.

“We always said at the IAM that if you start enforcing it you will see a fall in public support because people will feel they are caught speeding on roads that look and feel perfectly safe.”

The expanded scheme will cover residential and shopping streets from Morningside to Leith, taking effect from February 28.

Road signs and markings could start appearing as early as next month. Main arterial roads will still have 30 or 40mph limits.

But many have argued that the wider roll-out would lead to “increased pollution” and see money “poured down the drain”.

Sean Watters, secretary Portobello Community Council, said he wasn’t too convinced the plans would make much difference to people’s every-day commutes.

He told the News: “You’re lucky if you manage to get to 20mph here so I’m not sure it’s going to have as dramatic an impact as people think.

“I remember from when they did the proposals it was indicated elsewhere it had reduced speed and the impact on cyclists. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.”

Ian Maxwell, from cycling campaign group Spokes, believes the council’s plans will win people over.

He said: “When the council did their trial areas and consultation you got a very different response.

“The experience here and elsewhere has been that 20mph is very widely appreciated by a whole range of people. There quite often is an immediate concern and there will be some people who don’t like it but there are very strong safety and environmental arguments for reducing speed.”

The council has consistently insisted that the slower speed limits will improve safety on the Capital’s roads.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener for the city council. said: “There is no doubt that the new speed limit change will take some getting used to and we’re making every effort to raise awareness of its benefits amongst the public.

“Research shows that the majority of people do in fact back slower speeds and want to see their streets becoming safer and more attractive places to spend time.

“Our own consultation also demonstrated support for the scheme and I still speak to people who ask about lowering 30mph streets to 20mph.”