Record breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont has said it makes sense to change the law to force drivers to cut their speed to a maximum of 20mph in built up areas.
Green MSP Mark Ruskell is putting forward legislation which would, if passed, make this the standard speed limit for such areas, replacing the existing 30mph limit.
The Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill has been introduced at Holyrood, with Mr Ruskell stating it could be law by the end of 2019.
It has already won the backing of Beaumont, who cycled 18,000 miles around the world in less than 79 days.
The cyclist said: “It’s a bit of an odd statement for someone who holds the record for being fastest round the world on a bike, but we need to slow down.
“We know that we’re seven times less likely to die if we’re hit by a vehicle at 20mph than 30 - and ten times less likely if we’re over 60 years of age. So making roads in built-up areas 20 rather than 30mph makes bags of sense.
“It’s great to see Mark Ruskell’s bill in the Scottish Parliament helping build the momentum on this issue and I hope we see it become law in the near future.
“This is about saving lives, reducing injuries and improving public health and enjoyment by making our streets safer and healthier places to cycle and walk.”
At the moment local councils can establish 20mph zones in their areas, but Beaumont said this was “time consuming and costly” to do, adding the “patchwork” system created was also “confusing for road users”.
He urged MSPs to back the Bill, saying: “Scotland has a real chance to take a lead on this so let’s go for it.”
Cutting the speed limit to 20mph in urban areas would result in fewer casualties on the roads, and would also cut pollution from vehicle emissions, with the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation and the road safety charity Brake all backing the change
Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth Scotland also voiced their support, with air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna saying: “20mph zones make our streets safer and fairer for everyone using them, and are a vital part of the solution to air pollution.
“The faster people drive, the greater the risk of accidents, and the more off-putting it is for people to walk and cycle.
“Cars dominate our streets far too much already. There needs to be a much more level playing field between pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users and drivers. Slowing traffic is a key way to achieve this.
“Everyone in our town and cities should be able to feel safe to walk, cycle, and play in their neighbourhoods, and slowing the traffic to 20mph is just the way to help achieve friendlier, safer and cleaner neighbourhoods.
“There is also evidence that cars driving faster in built up areas produce more air pollution as they have to frequently speed up and slow down as hazards appear.”
Mark Ruskell, a Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “As a local councillor and as an MSP I have seen first-hand the frustration of communities that want lower speed limits but find the current process overly-complicated.
“By making 20 the norm in built-up areas we can end this frustration and provide the clarity that residents and motorists deserve.
“It’s clear that a lower limit will mean safer streets, and I’m delighted that my bill enjoys widespread public support, the backing of safety groups, health experts, local authority chiefs and campaigners such as Mark Beaumont.
“I look forward to it being examined by parliament in the months ahead.”