All you need to know about 20mph zones in Edinburgh as phase 3 arrives

Phase 3 arrived this week.
Phase 3 arrived this week.
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A new 20mph speed limit has been implimented in the Capital as phase 3 arrives in the Capital.


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With the third phase underway, we take a look at some of the key questions around 20mph and what you can expect about the next rollout.

Q: When did the third phase of the new speed limits come into force?

A: The 20mph scheme’s third phase came into force at midnight on Wednesday August 15. It will cover 120 miles of the Capital in the west of the city including areas such as Clermiston, Clovenstone, South Gyle and Silverknowes. Its arrival comes after the scheme’s second phase which covered Zone 2 (North) and Zone 3 (South Central/East). The first phase for the city centre and rural west Edinburgh, came into force on July 31 last year.

Q: Why is the new speed limit being brought in?

A: The primary aim behind the scheme is to keep people safer on the roads. As well as reducing the number of accidents, it is also hoped that implementing a slower speed limit might encourage more people to get around the city by foot, bicycle or public transport.

Q: What are the penalties for drivers who break the limit?

A: Drivers caught speeding will face the threat of £100 fines and three penalty points.

Q: How strictly will it be enforced?

A: Enforcement has been fairly limited. Police say they will be working alongside the city council to enforce the limit “where operational demands allow”, with a particular focus on areas of vulnerability, for example near schools, and areas where the force receives complaints. In practice, this has seen little obvious enforcement action, beyond warnings issued to drivers in the initial days of the new zones.

Chief Inspector Mark Rennie, south east area commander, said: “Proactive speeding checks will be conducted within the new zones, with warnings and fines given as appropriate.”

Q: Will there be more speed bumps?

A: Not initially at least. The council says the lower speed limit will be introduced without traffic calming measures.

However council officials have also said they will consider using speed reducing measures on specific roads if monitoring shows motorists continuing to drive along them at speeds significantly over 20mph despite signage and public awareness.

Q: What about speed cameras?

A: Ahead of the arrival of the scheme’s first phase last summer, it emerged that the three fixed speed cameras within the 20mph roll-out area which could not be adjusted to monitor the slower speed. The admission came after the News previously revealed that some of the city’s older cameras would be unable to enforce the new limit.

However council bosses said “adjustable mobile speed camera units were available to tackle any problem hotspots”, adding police could also use hand-held machines.

Speed indicating signs, which display a message thanking drivers for going under the limit, are being recalibrated to the new 20mph limit.

Q: What about the areas surrounding Edinburgh?

A: Roads in some areas of East Lothian are also set to receive a reduced 20mph limit. The slower speed limit will be made permanent in parts of North Berwick, Tranent and Cockenzie following previous pilots.

An 18-month-long trial will also take place across much of Dunbar.

Q. What roads are being affected by phase 3?

A. The latest stage will see the majority of roads in Clermiston, Clovenstone, South Gyle and Silverknowes become 20mph. However, a number of key roads will remain at 30mph and 40mph.

Q: Are there more phases on the way?

A: Yes – the 20mph scheme will not be fully rolled out until 2018. The final phase is scheduled to be completed by January 31 next year.

Q: What has happened in other cities that have introduced 20mph zones?

A: Islington was the first borough in the UK to bring in a widespread 20mph limit.

Statistics collected by Islington London Borough Council suggested the scheme only caused traffic to slow down marginally. They showed that before the 20mph limits were introduced, 85 per cent of the traffic on Islington’s main roads was travelling at an average of 28mph. This average only dropped to 27mph after the limits were introduced.

Bristol and Brighton have also piloted 20mph limits, while Manchester recently halted the roll-out of its 20mph scheme, after finding a smaller fall in accident rates in the low speed areas than across the rest of the city.

Q: How much is it costing?

A: The overall scheme is set to cost around £2.2 million to implement.

Q: Where can I find out more?

A: An online map detailing which roads are 20mph can be found on the council website.

What have we learnt so far from 20mph?

PHASE one of the flagship 20mph policy was rolled out in the city centre and the rural west of Edinburgh in summer last year.

The Evening News previously reported how police road checks to catch motorists ignoring the new 20mph limit in the city centre were called off after just a week.

Officers with speed guns handed out two fines and 36 formal warnings during the first week after the speed cap was introduced on July 31.

However, police bosses have insisted they are “committed” to making city roads safer, adding that they would not hesitate to pursue any motorist found to be breaking the rules.

No accident statistics or data on average speeds since the change have been released, but the city council says initial feedback from ongoing monitoring and research suggested high levels of awareness about the new limit.