Lesley Hinds: The new 20mph limit will help make us a safer city

SINCE yesterday, the legal speed limit in streets across much of Edinburgh's city centre and rural west area has gone down to 20mph, the first phase in a planned rollout of lower speeds across the Capital.

Monday, 1st August 2016, 12:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:42 pm
The scheme was recently launched in the Capital
The scheme was recently launched in the Capital

A network of key arterial roads across the city will be retained at 30mph and 40mph, resulting in a modest impact on journey times overall.

Becoming Scotland’s first 20mph city is a very important milestone for Edinburgh. We are joining a host of cities across Europe and the rest of the UK in promoting slower speeds, including Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff and most of inner London.

The new speed limits are designed to increase safety for all road users in Edinburgh as well as creating a calmer, more people-friendly environment in shopping and residential streets.

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Slower speeds bring many benefits to places and people. They help to reduce the risk and severity of collisions, with pedestrians seven times less likely to be fatally injured if hit by a car at 20mph compared to 30mph.

Slower speeds encourage people to walk and cycle in an area, boosting trade for local businesses. They also make it easier to cross roads, particularly for children and older people.

Our phased 20mph rollout between now and early 2018 brings to fruition many years of planning and public consultation and the network has been designed in line with robust criteria in partnership with key stakeholders such as Police Scotland and Lothian Buses.

Police Scotland will enforce the 20mph limit in the same way they currently enforce the 30mph limit, appropriately responding to any motorists observed speeding and taking whatever action is required if communities raise concerns about a particular area. Specific attention will be provided around areas such as schools.

We have long recognised that there is demand from city residents for decreased speed limits in the city centre, around residential areas and in busy shopping streets.

And experience right here in the Capital and in other cities shows that people are even more in favour of slower speeds once they’re actually in force.

In 2011, a pilot project in South Edinburgh saw support for 20mph locally rise to 79 per cent (from 69 per cent), with those surveyed feeling safer and happier to walk and cycle in the area.

More than 50 per cent of Edinburgh’s streets are already 20mph. Yesterday’s Phase 1 ‘go live’ marked the start of sharing these benefits right across the Capital.

In the words of Professor Alison McCallum, NHS Lothian’s Director of Public Health and Health Policy: “Introducing the 20mph sends a clear message that people matter. As a city centre resident, I can’t wait.”

Cllr Lesley Hinds is Transport Convener of City of Edinburgh Council