Robert Aldridge: Let’s put the brakes on this 20mph zone fiasco

Council mascot 'The Reducer' launches the next phase of the 20mph roll-out with children from the Murrayfield Nursery. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Council mascot 'The Reducer' launches the next phase of the 20mph roll-out with children from the Murrayfield Nursery. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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As the next phase of the 20mph speed limit rolls out in various parts of the city it is clear that parts of the scheme need review. No one can seriously object to a 20mph limit in residential streets. But variable speed limits on main roads is a recipe for confusion and resentment.

My own view is that main roads should be 30 (or 40mph where appropriate) to attract traffic away from rat runs and to allow a reasonable driving speed for taxis and other road users especially late at night.

Robert Aldridge is leader of the Lib Dem group at Edinburgh City Council

Robert Aldridge is leader of the Lib Dem group at Edinburgh City Council

We have also not got the signage right. On some roads the signage is sparse and confusing (like the top of Clermiston Road). In other areas we see large 20 signs painted in culs de sac where they are unnecessary and unsightly.

So while the general policy and expected reductions in road injuries is right, we need to pay attention to getting the details right and be prepared to make changes sooner rather than later.

It is great that so many more people in the city are taking up cycling. I’m delighted that the policy introduced by the Lib Dems of allocating a growing per centage of the transport budget to cycling is bearing fruit.

But can I ask gently and calmly that when a cyclist uses a pavement they dismount and walk with the bike if there are pedestrians about, or use the road.

I love this time of year in Edinburgh, when the city lets down its hair and hosts the world’s best party. It’s fantastic to hear so many different languages, see local businesses thriving and know Edinburgh is the world’s cultural capital for a month.

Of course catering for so many visitors takes its toll on council services. So it is mystifying why the Scottish Government consistently refuses to let the council levy a small hotel room tax to help keep our festivals offering world class and help meet the costs of providing the additional services. These taxes work well in most tourist areas around the world and allow visitors to make a direct financial contribution. All political parties in Edinburgh support this.

It’s time for the Scottish Government to step up to the plate and let us levy a modest hotel room tax.

In a couple of weeks I leave my job working with a national homelessness organisation but I remain passionate about making a real improvement in the way Edinburgh tackles homelessness. News that the new council is to set up a homelessness task force is welcome. But it must not simply be a talking shop and there must be action on any recommendations it makes.

It’s not only about people sleeping rough helping prevent people becoming homeless in the first place, ensuring that people don’t spend long unsettled in temporary accommodation and giving people extra support they may need when they need it by ensuring health, social work and housing services work closely together.

I’s a big challenge for Edinburgh, especially given our shortage of affordable housing, but one where, with all agencies working together we can make a real difference to people’s lives.

Robert Aldridge is the leader of the Lib Dem group at Edinburgh City Council