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Trial last year found jump in kids cycling to school and residents in favour of lower limits

Less than four weeks remain until a consultation in Edinburgh to apply a 20mph speed limit to most streets across the city, including those with high numbers of cyclists, closes. A trial last year in the Scottish capital’s south central boroughs saw residents give a resounding ‘Yes’ to the concept.

According to City of Edinburgh Council, the 20mph speed limit is intended for “the city centre, main shopping streets, residential areas and areas with high levels of pedestrian and/or cyclist activity.

“Streets that do not fall within these categories will generally have a speed limit of 30 mph.”

Following the pilot scheme last year, a report from the Transport and Environment Committee of Edinburgh City Council found that people felt safer, and that cycling and walking journeys had risen by 5 per cent and 7 per cent respectively, while car trips fell by 3 per cent.

The percentage of children riding a bike to school rose threefold from 4 per cent to 12 per cent, and by a factor of seven among older primary age pupils, up from 3 per cent to 21 per cent. The proportion of parents willing to let their children play outside more than doubled from 31 per cent to 66 per cent.

Prior to the trial, 68 per cent of residents were in favour of a 20mph speed limit but that rose to 79 per cent afterwards. Meanwhile, the proportion of people who consider cycling to be unsafe fell from 26 per cent to 18 per cent.

The consultation, which opened at the end of August, runs until 17 October and can be found on the Edinburgh City Council website, where there are also links to a map and an FAQ.

A 20mph speed limit in residential areas is one of the key points contained in the manifesto of the Scottish cycling campaign group, Pedal on Parliament, which says:

“There are significant road safety benefits to a 20 mph speed limit. In residential areas, the presumption should be that roads authorities should apply 20mph speed limits as the norm in these areas. Lower speed limits should also be considered for unclassified rural roads where all road traffic faces a completely unacceptable risk of accident.”

Reacting to the consultation and the scope of the area planned to be covered, Rod King, founder and campaign director of the charity 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “Edinburgh’s results prove again how wide-area 20mph limits can civilise streets and win popular endorsement.

Extensive 20mph areas exist in cities including Oxford, Portsmouth and Brighton & Hove and in London Boroughs including Islington.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.