Edinburgh set for 20mph speed limits

Edinburgh would be the first city in Scotland to introduce 20mph on such a large scale. Picture: Cate Gillon

Edinburgh would be the first city in Scotland to introduce 20mph on such a large scale. Picture: Cate Gillon

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The speed limit on the majority of roads in Edinburgh is set to be reduced to 20mph under plans by the city council.

A new limit will come into ­effect later this year if approved by councillors next week.

The local authority yesterday unveiled its final map of the scheme.

Edinburgh would be the first city in Scotland to introduce 20mph on such a large scale, although the limit is in force in some towns and villages.

The city council said the move, which was welcomed ­yesterday by sustainable transport charity Sustrans, attracted 60 per cent support last October.

However, the Conservatives oppose a blanket 20mph limit, calling it a “bad idea”.

The new limit, which would be introduced over three years, includes the whole of the city centre. Other main routes to be covered include Gorgie Road, Mayfield Road, Morningside Road, Roseburn Street, Portobello High Street and Leith Walk.

The only roads in central Edinburgh to remain 30mph would be Queensferry Road, London Road and the West Approach Road, along with Minto Street and Dalkeith Road.

If agreed by the council’s transport and environment committee next Tuesday, the committee will consider an ­implementation plan in March

Transport convener Lesley Hinds said that there had been an “overwhelmingly positive ­response” to a pilot 20mph zone on 25 streets in south Edinburgh which started three years ago.

Scotland on Sunday revealed in 2013 that the success of the experiment had led the council to plan to extend it to streets across the city, including main roads.

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Transport Scotland, the government’s transport agency, is already committed to encouraging local authorities to consider 20mph zones in all residential areas.

The council said yesterday the lower speed limit would “encourage more considerate driving”, and lead to safer streets for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

It is also hoped the lower limit will make walking and cycling more attractive options for commuters.

Cllr Hinds said: “Edinburgh is taking a very bold step in introducing slower speeds for so much of its roads, and we’re aware that other cities in Scotland are watching our example keenly.

“There’s obviously a lot of work to be done to raise public awareness between now and the first new limits coming into ­effect.

“It’s undoubtedly a culture change for the whole city.

“Support for 20mph limits was already high before the pilot began but it increased even more once people tried out the slower speeds in practice.”

Sustrans Scotland national ­director John Lauder said: “It is fantastic to see Edinburgh council rolling out 20mph speed limits across more and more streets in the capital.

“Sustrans wants to see increasing numbers of people choosing to travel actively on an everyday basis, whether on foot or by bike, and we think that reducing traffic speeds is a key way to helping achieve this.”

But Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said: “Blanket speed limits are a bad idea, because it means drivers don’t know in which areas it is most important to drive slowly.

“Speed limits must be variable, they have to reflect the conditions and surroundings of the road.

“That way, motorists are in no doubt that when driving past schools, these 20mph limits have to be observed.

“The job of the council should be to make it easier for people to get about town, not more ­difficult.”

Green councillor Nigel Bagshaw said: “This is a good day for safer streets, reduced congestion and pollution; and efforts to promote cities for walkers and cyclists.

“However, we need to see it as step one in a process which makes 20mph the norm in all city streets, with only very limited exceptions.”

“We need not just 20mph streets but a 20mph city.”

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