Slower traffic keeps city safer and saves lives - Scott Arthur

We’re now well into this year’s Road Safety Week, which for 2022 bears the tagline ‘Safe Roads for All’ – and who could disagree with that?

Councillor Professor Scott Arthur
Councillor Professor Scott Arthur

We all have the right to travel safely on our roads, whether to walk, wheel, cycle, use public transport or drive. Deaths and injuries should not be seen as inevitable.

We’ve committed to ‘Vision Zero’ for Edinburgh, where all traffic fatalities and severe injuries are eliminated from our roads. Thankfully over recent years the number of people killed or seriously injured in road collisions here has been on a downward trend, but there’s much more to be done.

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There’s no doubt that some road users are more vulnerable than others – in the UK pedestrians are 22 times more likely to be killed in a road traffic collision than a car occupant. It’s our job as a city to create an environment where people can make risk-free active and sustainable travel choices.

In 2018, we became Scotland’s first 20mph city. Not only have speeds continued to fall across the network since then, but both road collisions and injuries have dropped by more than 30 per cent.

Everyone in the city deserves these life-saving benefits and today the council is launching a consultation into the extension of 20mph speed limits even further. Alongside this, we’re asking residents about additional proposals to lower speed limits on roads that have limits of more than 40mph.

We’d like to hear from as many people as possible. In fact, I hope and expect residents will consider urging the council to go further by demanding more streets are included.

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In the meantime, our Road Safety Team are hard at work analysing collision data to prioritise areas for speed reduction measures and have identified a first batch of nearly 100 streets where there are excessive traffic speeds. These experts are now in the process of implementing interventions like signage or physical traffic calming measures targeted at improving the safety of the most vulnerable groups.

This approach will feed into the city’s new Road Safety Plan 2030, which I hope will result in a significant reduction in accidents by the end of the decade.

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Improving streets for people travelling by foot, wheels, bike or public transport is essential for a safer city too, as well as healthier lifestyles, better air quality and less congestion. Nearly 60% of respondents to a recent survey said fewer cars on their streets would encourage them to both walk and cycle more.

We’ve already got several ambitious, high-profile projects in the pipeline to transform parts of the city for walking, wheeling, cycling and accessing public transport. This isn’t just about the city centre, we’re working with communities around Edinburgh, with forthcoming Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Leith and Corstorphine set to create quieter, more peaceful spaces to spend time in, alongside our ambitious 20-minute neighbourhood programme.

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Road Safety Week is a great opportunity to think about those killed and injured in the past year, and also for us all to commit to reducing the risks we face every day.

Cllr Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener