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.”