Edinburgh City Council is set to complete the largest 20mph roll out ever seen in Scotland, while the Scottish Government has released new guidance on implementing 20mph zones in a bid to boost their uptake.
The Edinburgh plans would see the vast majority of streets in the city centre adopt the lower limit and follows a successful pilot programme and a public consultation last autumn that showed 60% of respondents supported the proposals, with 36% opposed.
Plans will go before members of the council's transport and environment committee for approval on 13 January. If successful an implementation plan will be presented to the committee in March, with the programme rolled out over a maximum of three financial years.
Cllr Lesley Hinds, transport convener, 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 but we're very encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response we've seen to the pilot project in South Edinburgh. 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.’
The news comes as the Scottish Government issued a new 20mph Good Practice Guide, written in conjunction with the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS), that aims to ‘encourage local authorities to introduce them near schools, in residential areas and in other areas of our towns and cities where there is a significant volume of pedestrian or cyclist activity’ officials said.
Transport Scotland highlighted the extensive 20 mph trial in Edinburgh that lowered vehicle speeds without the need for traffic calming measures, and attracted strong support from residents.
Derek Mackay, minister for transport and islands said: ‘The Scottish Government is committed to creating a healthier, greener and safer Scotland and believes that the introduction of 20 miles per hour (mph) restrictions can help to contribute to all these objectives.
'Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2020 set challenging casualty reduction targets and aims to address speed as one of its main priorities. This new 20 mph guidance will help towards achieving these targets by reducing speeds on our roads.’
The guide highlights a 2010 Department for Transport (DfT) study that found that the risk of fatal injury to pedestrians 'rose from under 1% at an impact speed of 20 mph to 5.5%, or 1 in 20, at 30 mph. Above 30 mph risk increased very substantially, to over 30% at an impact speed of 40 mph'.
Ewan Wallace, chair of SCOTS, said: ‘I would wish to thank all members of the working party for their hard work and commend the document to all local authorities as they continue to tackle all of the challenges associated with reducing the level of death and serious injury across our road network.’