20mph limit: Drivers report unexpected safety risk

ONE of the key aims of the 20mph rollout was to improve road safety in the Capital.

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 7:24 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:56 am
The city-wide scheme has seen a number of new roads take on a 20mph limit. Picture: Neil Hanna

But after just two days, drivers have reported an unexpected hazard as they slow down to abide with the new limits.

Several said pedestrians had stepped off pavements believing cars were about to come to a halt or were travelling even slower than allowed.

The second phase of the city-wide scheme came into force at midnight on Tuesday, covering roads all the way from Morningside and Gorgie to Trinity and Leith.

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The city-wide scheme has seen a number of new roads take on a 20mph limit. Picture: Neil Hanna

Police officers have confirmed no fines were dished out to drivers during the first 24 hours, although a total of 15 warnings were issued in the city centre.

An online petition calling for an end to the £2.2 million scheme has reached more than 4000 signatures amid claims cash for the project could have been better spent in other areas, for example pothole repairs.

Dozens of readers have shared their experiences of phase two, with some voicing concern the 20mph limit was “encouraging” people to chance crossing in front of what appear to be slower-moving vehicles.

The Evening News also had to be alert when pedestrians stepped on to the road while we were testing the new zones.

20mph zones begin. Picture: Neil Hanna

Reader Brian Cornet told us he would be sticking to the limit, but added people had “walked out in front of me because they thought I was slowing down to stop at the lights”.

It was a similar experience for reader Janet Ross, who criticised other road users for what she described as “atrocious” tailgating.

She added: “I was nearly run off the road and four kids thought it was good to cross roads because cars had slowed to 20 – on four different occasions may I add.”

However, Marco Del Valle was more optimistic about the second phase, commenting on our social media channels: “Hopefully a lot of people will realise that [it] is faster and cheaper to use public transport and we will have less pollution.”

The city-wide scheme has seen a number of new roads take on a 20mph limit. Picture: Neil Hanna

The 20mph initiative will be fully rolled out by January 2018 and, once in place, will cover around 80 per cent of the city.

Stuart Hay, director of Living Streets Scotland, denied pedestrians would be lulled into a false sense of security.

He said: “There’s no evidence that 20mph speed limits result in pedestrians paying less attention. To the contrary, the evidence is that 20mph speed limits actually improve road safety.

“We also know that reducing speed limits makes people feel safer and encourages them to walk more, which is better for our health and local environment.”

20mph zones begin. Picture: Neil Hanna

A Police Scotland spokesman said the force would “continue to monitor the 20mph zones and educate drivers on the new limit”, adding: “Further action will be taken, when necessary, and additional attention will be paid to areas where concerns are reported.”