Labour Councillor and Convenor of Edinburgh’s Transport, Infrastructure & Environment Committee Lesley Hinds outlines how Edinburgh is moving towards a 20mph city across its residential roads.
Following a successful trial period in South Central Edinburgh we are looking to introduce a 20mph speed limit across all residential areas of the city.
Edinburgh is a growing city with a growing population, which inevitably leads to increased levels of transport on the roads. We need to protect the safety of pedestrians and cyclists who also have the right to use roads and pavements, free from fear of vehicles being driven too fast. At the same time keeping traffic flowing smoothly and safely is also very important and necessary for a modern and busy city. Benefits of introducing more 20mph limits on our roads include vehicles being driven at a slower speed and therefore a reduction in accidents, leading to a more pedestrian and cyclist friendly environment.
Around 50 per cent of residential streets in the capital are already in 20mph zones and these have a proven track record of casualty reduction.
The pilot in South Central Edinburgh was developed through consultation with a number of interest groups including Streets Ahead partners, elected Members and the South Neighbourhood. It was one of a series of Council-led road safety initiatives which were delivered by the Streets Ahead Road Safety Partnership, which involved Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue, and NHS Lothian.
It was very successful and has had a lot of support from the local community. The number of residents supporting the trial increased from 68 per cent before to 79 per cent after, which is very encouraging. As well as improving general safety, after the pilot residents felt that safety for children walking about the area and playing in the street would improve.
The pilot was carried out at a good time as UK traffic calming legislation was relaxed in 2011. It is now possible to create 20mph zones without solely relying on the use of physical traffic calming features at set intervals. Features that were previously confined to 20mph limit areas such as repeated signs and surface markings, can be incorporated instead. Where speed or road traffic incidents remain a pressing concern, physical traffic calming measures may continue to be used.
The move fits in well with our Active Travel Action Plan (ATAP) which outlines our promise to encourage walking and cycling, and making it safer for everyone to do so means that more people will make these choices, leading to healthier lifestyles and a healthier environment.
All roads will now be assessed extensively before speed limits are changed, as some may be more suited to remaining at 30 or 40mph.
The next five years is an important period for transport in Edinburgh, with the introduction of trams, encouraging more active and environmentally-friendly ways of getting around the city, and combining these services to create an integrated transport network.
As well as rolling out more 20mph limits our five year Local Transport Plan also includes piloting the closure of streets around schools at start and finish times and well as consulting on options to improve air quality. It is vital that our Local Transport Strategy, which will be agreed in January, looks after the safety of pedestrians and cyclists using our roads.