MOTORISTS are defying a 20mph speed limit being trialled in south Edinburgh in droves, with police speed checks revealing as many as almost one in two are flouting the restrictions.
Details of the checks carried out by Lothian and Borders Police across a four-day period on streets in Newington, Blackford, Meadow Park and Prestonfield have been released as city chiefs plot a potential mass roll-out of the speed zones across Edinburgh.
An alarming 21 out of 53 motorists were caught driving at 5mph or more above the new limit on Oswald Road during monitoring carried out by police on July 23.
West Savile Terrace and Causewayside were other speeding hot spots. Fifty-five cars were caught speeding in a single day across the two roads.
Police have so far issued warning letters rather than fines to drivers caught on radar defying the limit.
Speed checks were also carried out on Findhorn Place, Priestfield Road, Ratcliffe Terrace and West Mayfield from July 23 to 26.
The pilot started in March has led to 20mph limits being introduced in most residential streets in the area between Morningside, the Meadows, Holyrood Park and Blackford Hill.
Architect and Prestonfield resident Michael Laurie is among an estimated 50 residents who have complained directly to Edinburgh City Council officials or police about reckless drivers within the zone since the trial started.
He said he had witnessed delivery vans and taxis “bombing” along roads in the neighbourhood with little regard for their speed. He said: “Sometimes it’s crazy how fast they go. If they stuck to 30mph you’d be reasonably comfortable, but it’s more than 30mph.
“Frankly the 30mph zone wasn’t working in the first place and now the 20mph zone, it’s almost laughable really. It’s just not even remotely working and there’s been a lot of money spent on painting roads and adding signs everywhere.
“Unless you have genuine enforcement or measures to slow cars down, then it doesn’t work.”
Rankin Drive resident and grandparent Jane Aldous said it was noticeable that drivers were continuing to ignore the zone’s new speed limit.
She said: “It’s very frustrating. I have a dog, we have small grandchildren. There are lots of local children and elderly people in the area and it’s just really annoying that people are ignoring the very clear signage.
“If a car’s going very fast there’s no way that they could avoid an elderly person or a dog, a cat or a child. It has to be a good thing, I think, if cars are going 10 to 15mph slower.”
Grange Prestonfield Community Council secretary Sue Tritton said the trial had produced mixed results to date.
She said: “I think a lot of people have slowed down, but the sort of people who went through at 40mph before are still going through over the speed limit.
“There is evidence that speeds have reduced in some streets, but there are some streets that are particularly bad.
“West Savile Terrace is one and Prestonfield and Priestfield [roads], particularly at night, are others.”
Results from the 18-month speed limit trial are due to be published next year.
Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie is helping lead the push for 20mph zones to become city-wide. The lower level would be enforced on residential streets, not main roads.
He tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament last month calling for local authorities to consider 20mph zones in all residential areas.
He said he was keen for Edinburgh to follow the example set by Bristol City Council, which is targeting a blanket 20mph limit on all residential streets by 2015.
Edinburgh City Council’s transport vice-convenor, Jim Orr, confirmed constituents and community groups had reported too many drivers flouting the new limit.
He said: “This is disappointing as a clear consensus is emerging that we need to make our streets safer and quieter, particularly in residential areas and near schools.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “While our focus will remain on policing the main arterial routes where the highest proportion of collisions occur, we will take appropriate and proportionate action against anyone who we detect speeding in any 20mph zone.”
Motion for scottish parliament
The motion tabled by Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie in the Scottish Parliament in support of blanket 20mph speed limits across the Capital reads as follows:
• That the parliament welcomes the pilot for a 20mph zone in the south side of Edinburgh, which is being undertaken by Transport Scotland in conjunction with the City of Edinburgh Council;
• Further welcomes the commitment by the Scottish Government to ‘encourage local authorities to consider 20mph zones in all residential areas’;
• Welcomes the lead given by Bristol City Council to make all residential streets 20mph zones by 2015 following its own pilots in the south and east of the city;
n Recognises the many positive benefits which 20mph zones bring such as making communities safer by reducing the number of road accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, as well as reducing the severity of accidents, including the risk of serious injury and fatality;
• Believes that 20mph zones can also make communities healthier by encouraging people to walk and cycle more, so increasing levels of physical activity and can deliver substantial environmental benefits by reducing vehicle emissions as the amount of breaking and accelerating decreases and through reduction in traffic noise;
• Looks forward to the evaluation of the 20mph pilot in the south side of the city being published in 2013;
• Believes that good practice should be shared across local authorities within Scotland;
• Congratulates the 20’s Plenty For Us national campaign for a 20mph speed limit for all residential roads in Lothian and across the UK.
Special crossings for pedestrians
PEDESTRIANS could be given dedicated road crossings every time traffic lights are put out of action by roadworks if a new proposal is adopted.
Councillor Gavin Corbett said the Capital’s pedestrians were still being treated as an “afterthought” because there is no regular provision of replacement crossings when permanent traffic lights are switched off. By contrast, temporary signals for cars are always provided.
Mr Corbett said: “At a time when there are so many roadworks across the city, no provision is made for temporary pedestrian crossings and that’s unfair. Pedestrians are being treated as an afterthought.”
Now the Green member for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart has drafted a motion calling on city leaders to install crossings for pedestrians whenever traffic lights are switched off.
He said the motion was put together after consultation with south-west Edinburgh residents and following complaints over lengthy trips to shops and medical centres when permanent crossings are not available.
He admitted that in emergency cases where temporary traffic lights are put up very suddenly, it may not always be possible to install crossings for pedestrians.
But he added: “They should be put up as a matter of routine. I generally think that we are locked in a way of thinking that roads are just about cars moving and we still don’t think of them as places where pedestrians have to cross – all road users need to have equal priority.
“There’s a feeling that pedestrians can just make do and yes, some people can walk 50 metres to get to the next crossing but that’s not an option for old people, or people who are less able on their feet, or young children.
“It creates risks and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hit.”
Mr Corbett’s stance was backed by bosses of sustainable transport body Sustrans, which said that his motion was “entirely sensible”.
Scottish national director John Lauder said: “The streets are for people in the end. For too long we have looked at the streets of Edinburgh as though they were thoroughfares for cars.
“I think you only have to look at the roundabout routes that people are having to take to avoid the tramworks to see a good example of how pedestrians are still not properly catered for.
“The pedestrian should always be our priority and I hope the council approves this.”
The motion will go before the council’s transport and environment committee next month.