20mph speed limit across Edinburgh by April 2017

Many more of the city's drivers will see signs such as the above governing their speed. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Many more of the city's drivers will see signs such as the above governing their speed. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A SPEED limit of 20mph is to be rolled out across the Capital by April 2017 – making Edinburgh the first city in Scotland to do so.

The limit will be implemented on all residential streets, main shopping areas, city centre streets, and roads with high levels of pedestrian and cyclist activity.

Transport bosses also plan to proceed with a programme of reducing speed limits on main roads fronted with homes and businesses to 30mph combined with road markings and ­pedestrian islands if required.

The bold plan has been included within the city council’s transport strategy for 2014-2019 and follows a successful pilot in the Marchmont, Grange and Prestonfield areas last year.

Bus chiefs are giving their support to the roll-out but have voiced concerns that speed bumps should be avoided wherever possible.

This request has been largely accepted by the council, which has stated that they will not be used on those streets most likely to carry bus services.

Lothian Buses chief executive Ian Craig said: “We note that the council intends to liaise with bus operators on how best to implement any specific schemes and we look forward to working with them to ensure that our bus services can still operate efficiently for the benefit of our passengers.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, city transport convener, said: “We’ll be consulting with residents and all interested parties, including Lothian Buses, before we draw up detailed proposals for any new 20mph areas.

“The nature of the busier roads on which a 20mph limit is likely to be taken forward means impacts on bus journey times are expected to be very limited indeed.

“Lower speeds in residential areas and shopping streets are not just good for safety and environmental reasons.

“Slower traffic makes streets more attractive to residents, pedestrians, cyclists and children, improves the environment for business and enhances quality of life.”

The first city in the world to implement a 20mph limit was the Austrian city of Graz in 1992. When first introduced the speed limit had less than 50 per cent support, but within two years this had risen to more than 80 per cent.

The scheme also achieved a 12 per cent reduction in ­collisions with slight injuries and a 24 per cent reduction in serious injuries.

Kim Harding of cycle safety campaign group Pedal on ­Parliament said: “This is a very positive move not just for road safety but quality of life in the city as well.

Keith Irving, head of Living Streets Scotland, the pedestrian campaigning organisation, said: “We have long argued for 20mph limits on streets where people live, work and shop so we welcome this proposal from the council.

“The council can fulfil an important role in encouraging people to walk more and to ­create a better environment.”