Capital's first new 20mph zone goes live

Police Scotland and Sustrans Scotland joined the City of Edinburgh Council's Transport Convener today to mark the launch of the first zone in the Capital's new 20mph limit rollout.  

The Reducer and PC Sacha Pooniah launch 20mph for Edinburgh

Phase 1 of the rollout of a 20mph speed limit on all residential, shopping and city centre streets in the Capital goes live on Sunday 31 July 2016, when a Traffic Regulation Order formalising the reduction in the speed limit comes into force. 

Councillors approved a new speed limit network for Edinburgh at the Transport and Environment Committee on 13 January 2015, following extensive public consultation with local communities, businesses and other stakeholders.

In becoming Scotland's first 20mph city, Edinburgh follows a growing number of European and UK cities (eg Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cambridge and much of inner London) in introducing slower speeds.  The project extends 20mph speed limits to approximately 80% of Edinburgh’s streets and there is strong support from city residents for the move*.

The new speed limits are aimed at increasing safety for all road users as well as creating a calmer, more people-friendly environment in shopping and residential streets. A network of key arterial roads across the city will be retained at 30mph and 40mph.

Slower speeds bring many benefits to places and people. They help to reduce the risk and severity of collisions, encourage people to walk and cycle and spend more time in an area, boosting trade for local businesses.

The reduced speed makes it easier to cross roads, particularly for children and older people.

In preparation for the 'go live' on Sunday 31 July, large 20mph signs have been erected in Zone 1 over the past few weeks, marking the entrance and exit of a 20mph area where the speed limit is changing. These are supplemented by smaller repeater signs or road markings with speed limit roundels

As part of the 20mph programme, existing signage is being reviewed and reinforced. Any existing signage which is no longer needed will be removed and reused where possible.

Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: "Slower speeds bring many benefits to the urban environment, making streets more people-friendly, promoting active travel (and thereby improving public health) and reducing the risk and severity of road collisions. The majority of Edinburgh residents support our 20mph scheme and we know that other local authorities in the rest of Scotland are closely monitoring our experience.

"We've been working towards this rollout for a number of years now and I'm delighted to see the first phase going live. Changing driver behaviour is not an overnight thing, obviously, and it will take a bit of time for it to become second nature. Experience here from our South Edinburgh pilot and from schemes elsewhere shows that support for 20mph increases after implementation as people welcome the benefits.

"We'll continue to help people adapt to the new limit throughout the rollout, through awareness raising and education campaigns."

Chief Inspector Mark Rennie of Police Scotland said: “We remain committed to casualty reduction on our roads and whenever we observe motorists disobeying the 20mph speed limit, or where the public tell us there is an ongoing problem, we will respond appropriately.

“Changes to road layouts, proper signage and continued engagement with the public are the keys to ensuring the speed limit is adhered to, however, police will give due attention to areas around schools to ensure public safety.”

John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland, said: "Sustrans is pleased to see the first phase of the 20mph zones being implemented across Edinburgh.  The benefits of introducing slower speeds within urban areas are well evidenced across the world and Edinburgh is doing the right thing making this change. 

"Over time this programme will ensure that the city’s streets become safer and more pleasant for us all with less traffic noise and more social interaction across our neighbourhoods. In particular, we hope that slower and more predictable traffic speeds coupled with the Council’s programme to create better public places will encourage more people to switch to cycling and walking for every day short trips. With leadership from councils like Edinburgh many more 20mph zones will be introduced across Scotland.”

Around 50% of Edinburgh’s streets already have a 20mph limit. The project extends the 20mph speed limit to 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 and 40mph.

Following the South Edinburgh pilot, a 1000-person survey found support for 20mph rose from 68% before to 79% after implementation. Walking trips rose 7%, cycling trips rose 5% and car trips fell by 3%.

The rollout of 20mph speed limits across Edinburgh will be carried out in phases as follows:

Zone One
City Centre and Rural West (South Queensferry, Kirkliston, Ratho, Currie and Balerno). Speed limit applies from 31 July 2016
Zone Two
North. Speed limit applies from 28 February 2017
Zone Three
South Central/East. Speed limit applies from 28 February 2017
Zone Four    
North West. Speed limit applies from 31 July 2017
Zone Five
West. Speed limit applies from 31 July 2017
Zone Six    
South. Speed limit applies from 31 January 2018 

Did you know?
- Pedestrians are 7 times less likely to be fatally injured if hit by a car at 20mph compared to 30mph
- 20mph creates a better environment for people to walk and cycle
- 20mph neighbourhoods have higher levels of social interaction
- 20mph streets allow children to play outside safely and be more physically active
- 20mph streets have less traffic noise
- 20mph encourages a smoother driving style with less stopping and starting leading to reductions in emissions and fuel consumption
- 20mph is designed to be self-enforcing with no new speed humps
20mph gives drivers more time to react 
- Research shows that every 1mph reduction in average speeds is likely to result in a 6% fall in the number of casualties
- Police Scotland are supportive of lower speeds and are working with the Council to achieve this
- Impact on car journey times is expected to be minimal with no significant change to bus journey times
- Businesses can benefit from a more pleasant environment for shopping, work and leisure

Public support
*There has been a high level of support for 20mph speed limits amongst Edinburgh residents for a number of years. The 2012 Edinburgh People’s Survey suggested a generally very high level of support for extending 20mph speed limits. The highest level of support was for such limits in ‘residential’ streets, with 75% in favour, 2% opposed, 23% unsure. For busy shopping streets support was 69 % with 4 % opposed and 27 % unsure. For all city centre streets support was 67 % with 5 % opposed and 29 % unsure. 

The Council’s decision to implement the new speed limit citywide was outlined in its 2014-2019 Local Transport Strategy

South Edinburgh Pilot
The Council implemented a pilot scheme in South Edinburgh in March 2012. As part of the evaluation a survey of 1000 local residents was carried in February and March 2013. The results of the survey were very positive, with 79% supportive of the new speed limit and only 4% against it. There was also an increase in people’s feelings of safety and in how happy they felt to walk or cycle in the area. The average speed in streets with the new limit fell to 20.9mph, a fall of just under 2mph. 

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