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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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.