John McLellan: What’s really behind the 20mph roll out?

Phase three of the 20mph roll out
Phase three of the 20mph roll out
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As phase three of the 20mph city-wide speed limit rolls out this week, the SNP-Labour administration continues to rely on the argument that lives will be saved as a result, and in theory it’s correct that someone knocked over at 20mph is less likely to die than someone hit at 30mph.

But how many lives will actually be saved? In 2015 thankfully only two pedestrians died on Edinburgh roads and in the previous two years it was four. While each one was clearly a tragedy, it has not been shown that the fatalities were caused by a driver lawfully doing 30mph on a road being limited to 20mph.

Nor has it been proved that 20mph provides a more pleasant street environment rather than just a longer, slower procession of vehicles and it has not been demonstrated it will result in a significant improvement to air quality. In fact an Imperial College study in Islington showed that some emissions from petrol vehicles actually increase at the lower speed.

And why £2.2m is being spent on signs which warn drivers of something the already-stretched police officers are rarely enforcing is another story.

For as long as I can remember, City Council leaders have adamantly denied they are anti-car so it would be refreshing if transport convener Lesley Macinnes just dropped the pretence and admitted it’s really about making driving in Edinburgh as difficult and irritating as possible. With traffic volumes continuing to rise in 2016 and bike use actually falling, maybe a the public would appreciate some straight-talking.