Charities have united to back controversial proposals for a 20mph speed limit across Edinburgh.
In a joint letter published today, the alliance of groups – which campaign on environment, health, transport and disability issues – welcomed the plans.
Around 80 per cent of the city’s roads will fall under the new limit under a radical blueprint approved by councillors in January.
City leaders will gather again tomorrow to discuss the changes.
The charities claim Edinburgh’s speed limit change – which has prompted heated debate – is an “example that other cities in Scotland should follow”.
Living Streets Scotland, among the ten signatories of the letter, said the scheme would transform the city.
The city council said almost half of 2500 residents surveyed last year strongly supported plans for more 20mph zones – with just a quarter opposed.
But a Facebook poll by the Evening News revealed that 83 per cent of readers are against the plans.
Meanwhile, more than 6000 residents have signed up to the Say No to 20mph campaign, and more than 2700 signed a petition calling for the decision to be reversed.
Opponents, who organised a protest rally in the city centre last month, say the new limits will cause congestion and accidents.
Today’s letter – signed by charities including Guide Dogs Scotland, Parkinson’s UK and WWF Scotland – says the limit will save lives.
It adds: “Edinburgh is a thriving and vibrant city. A speed limit of 20mph will make our streets a better place for all who live, relax and work here, and improve the vast majority of Edinburgh’s residential and shopping streets.”
Stuart Hay, head of Living Streets Scotland, said: “These proposals will make Edinburgh a better city for people. For far too long, it has been designed in a way that allows car users to drive at speeds that do great harm to quality of life in the Capital.
“So it very welcome that the city council has come forward with this praiseworthy initiative to transform the city, putting the interests of people ahead of vehicles.”
Mr Hay, whose charity campaigns for more pedestrian-friendly cities and towns, added: “It is well established that limiting road speeds to 20mph vastly improves pedestrian safety, particularly benefitting children, older people and those with disabilities.
“It will reduce traffic noise that blights the city. Finally, we are confident that this will help the local economy.”
The News revealed last week that the scheme will cost around £2.22 million to implement over the first three years.
Transport leader Councillor Lesley Hinds said the charities’ support was “incredibly valuable”. She said: “Not only does this provide encouragement, but reinforces key messages around the reduction of road casualties, increase in active travel and improved quality of life lower speed limits will bring.”
“We welcome and support the City of Edinburgh Council’s initiative calling for 20mph for Edinburgh. As one of the most ambitious 20mph schemes to date, it sets an example that other cities in Scotland should follow.
“Edinburgh is a thriving and vibrant city. A speed limit of 20mph will make our streets a better place for all who live, relax and work here, and improve the vast majority of Edinburgh’s residential and shopping streets.
“But most importantly 20mph saves lives. Simply reducing the speed of a car from 30mph to 20mph increases a pedestrian’s or cyclist’s chance of survival to 97 per cent.
“Where 20mph has been introduced road casualties have reduced, and walking and cycling levels have increased. Thousands of streets across the UK are now turning 20mph, transforming neighbourhoods and saving lives. Over ten million people already live in local authorities which have adopted or are adopting 20mph limits.
“We now look forward to Edinburgh adding to the growing band of progressive cities across both the UK and Europe that are committed to creating safer pleasant streets.”
Guide Dogs Scotland
Half of bus lane fine appeals successful
Half of the motorists who appealed against city bus lane fines last year were successful, it has emerged.
Of the 109 Edinburgh appeals submitted to the Scottish Parking Appeals Service, 56 were granted.
Motorists can take their case to the national body if their fines are upheld by the local authority.
Across the country, more than 100 cases were either upheld or granted as “no contest”.
Record numbers of drivers are being hit by penalties for driving in bus lanes across the country, with fines of more than £10 million issues last year.
Edinburgh’s eight bus lane cameras issued 25,882 fines in 2014. The infringement carries a maximum £60 fine – meaning a minimum windfall for the city council of