20mph limit in residential streets could roll out across Scotland following successful Edinburgh trial

25 miles of south Edinburgh slowed down, and collisions decreased according to preliminary figures

by Sarah Barth   August 24, 2013  

20mph zone picture IAM.jpg

Residential streets across Scotland could see compulsory 20mph zones come into force following a successful trial of the speed limits on 25 miles of streets in Edinburgh.

Transport Scotland has said that inital trialling on the south side of Edinburgh showed fewer collisions in the target areas - and that when the results had been fully analysed they would be providing advice to councils based on Edinburgh's experiences.

Transport convener Lesley Hinds told the Scotsman: “In the pilot area, the level of support for the 20mph speed limit has increased, and was viewed by residents as safer for children walking about the area and to play in the street, better conditions for walking and fewer traffic incidents.

“The speed surveys have demonstrated the 20mph speed limit has resulted in an overall positive drop in speeds.

“Taking account of the positive feedback from this pilot scheme, subject to final approval of the local transport strategy in January, a programme will be implemented to extend 20mph limits to all residential streets, shopping areas and main roads with large numbers of pedestrians.”

Many areas also have 20mph advisory signs, but these compulsory limits are rarer. Edinburgh City Council spent £100,000 on the experiment.

It's now mooted that the limits be widened to include all residential and shopping streets.

Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy and research director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “In the right places, 20mph zones are very popular, but their impact on road safety in pure injury numbers is often oversold.

“Projects from elsewhere in the UK have shown mixed results, with speeds coming down but crash numbers much the same and even a decrease in walking and cycling in cities such as Portsmouth.

“If the schemes in Edinburgh have been popular and left residents feeling safer and more likely to cycle, then we have no problem with them being extended.

“However, we do have concerns about blanket approaches, particularly when main roads are included.”

In June, the Scottish Government unveiled its updated Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS 2013), three years after the original version was published in 2010. Like its predecessor, the new plan calls for 10 per cent of journeys in the country to be made by bicycle by 2020.

The revised action plan also calls on local authorities to reduce speed limits in residential areas to 20mph as part of a wider strategy including developing cycling infrastructure that is aimed at encouraging more people to ride bikes, as well as meeting road casualty reduction targets and achieving better integration with public transport.

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said:“Transport Scotland is committed to encouraging local authorities to consider 20mph zones in all residential areas.

“The Scottish Government has encouraged the use of 20mph speed limits in residential areas and around schools, and has issued guidance most recently in 2006.

“Transport Scotland is assisting the City of Edinburgh Council with the evaluation of its 20mph speed limit pilot scheme in south central Edinburgh, which has designated all side streets, and some of the main routes, in the area as 20mph.

“We are aware of the DfT guidance issued in January which actively encourages local authorities to introduce more 20mph limits. When we receive the council’s pilot project final report we will review this, and consider issuing best practice guidance to local authorities.”


9 user comments

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we have had 20mph on all resident areas for a couple of months in south Sefton ( north Liverpool) not made the slightest difference in my eyes, everyone travels around doing whatever speed they want simply because it is not policed in any form, it's like they put the sign up presume people obey lol.

posted by billyman [122 posts]
24th August 2013 - 19:56

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You can be pretty sure that the main bus operator locally will support 20mph and with buses doing 20mph (and hopefully all council vehicles as well) there will be some pretty powerful moderating in place.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:28

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Only works when it's regularly policed and those caught breaking the speed limit are fined and get points. Articles in the local paper informing everyone that people are getting caught helps put some fear into the speeders, and makes them slow down.

Speed bumps on the other hand anoy the hell out of cyclists and motorist, the constant breaking and accelerating between them does nothing for the environment or the safety of other road users.

I'm all for anything that improves things for all non motorised road users...... reclaim the streets! That's what I say! Big Grin

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [208 posts]
24th August 2013 - 22:49

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Islington is a 20 borough. No-one observes the speed limit. There is no enforcement. "Official" vehicles like buses, taxis, post office and council trucks don't stick to it. It's pointless. Such a shame.

posted by Pauldmorgan [173 posts]
24th August 2013 - 23:14

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Pauldmorgan wrote:
Islington is a 20 borough. No-one observes the speed limit. There is no enforcement. "Official" vehicles like buses, taxis, post office and council trucks don't stick to it. It's pointless. Such a shame.

A shame it is indeed, but is not the case that when the speed limit was 30mph many/majority/most (from where your own viewpoint lies)motorists found it socially acceptable to drive at 33, 35, 36, 38, even 40mph when it was 'quiet'?

Now that it is a 20mph limit, has it not slowed them down even a little? Do they not now find it socially acceptable to drive at 25, 26, 28. 30mph at quiet times?

The end result being a reduction in average speed?

posted by Critchio [106 posts]
25th August 2013 - 11:00

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Yes Critchio is right. Reduce the limit and any speed reduction is a bonus. The police state it's pretty clear that 30mph is the threshold of what they call the 'cartwheel effect' where a light person - such as a child - will travel over the roof and hit the road behind the car. It's why collisions over 30mph result in so much death compare with under.

Billy man. I live in Sefton. They're a shambles. They're still not taking cycling seriously. We should talk and see what we can do to help. As far as I know Sefton are still 'testing' a few roads for 20mph - which makes no difference. I'm also working to get Peel and both councils to complete a safe route from the coastal path at Waterloo to the Puerhead so any input welcome.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1057 posts]
25th August 2013 - 12:47

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what is the normal speed limit in the UK on residential streets? In the states it is 25mph but I don't think it is very well followed to say the least

posted by jarredscycling [445 posts]
25th August 2013 - 15:38

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Where did Neil Grieg of ASM get his figures from? He says there was 'a decrease in walking and cycling in cities such as Portsmouth.'

The DfT Interim Evaluation report (http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/speed-limits-portsmouth/speed-limi..., 2010), however, says:
'The survey suggests that the introduction of the scheme has made little difference to the majority of respondents in the amount they travelled by their chosen mode. Levels of car travel stayed similar, whilst the level of pedestrian travel, pedal cyclist travel and public transport usage had increased for a small number of respondents." (page 1)

Is there some more recent research and does he cite his sources? RoSPA (http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/advice/highway/info/20-mph-zone-factshee..., 2012) quotes the original report; Par Hill Research (http://parhillresearch.com/s/Effect-of-20mph-zones-on-walking-and-cyclin..., 2013) also refers only to the Interim Evaluation, saying 'the level of pedestrian travel, pedal cyclist travel and public transport usage has slightly increased' (page 4). The level of walking and cycling increase in Portsmouth may have been modest compared with 20 mph zones in Hull and London, for example, but no-one else seems to be claiming a decrease in levels of those modes. Par Hill goes as far as to claim that 'There is evidence from Portsmouth, Barcelona and Brussels that 20mph zones without physical traffic calming significantly increase walking and cycling by increasing road safety and the perception of road safety.'

posted by arowland [84 posts]
27th August 2013 - 18:57

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jarredscycling wrote:
what is the normal speed limit in the UK on residential streets? In the states it is 25mph but I don't think it is very well followed to say the least

30 mph in the UK. Compliance varies with conditions (narrow streets with cars parked both sides have lower average speeds than wider ones and through-routes).

posted by arowland [84 posts]
27th August 2013 - 18:59

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