Frequently asked questions

What are the reasons behind the introduction of 20mph in Edinburgh?

We want to make Edinburgh a better and safer place to live, work, visit and play. Slower speeds are safer for all. Traffic speed is often too fast in our residential and local shopping streets. This can be a barrier to walking and cycling and increase the risk and severity of accidents. Reducing traffic speed helps people feel more confident about using their local streets. It is safer for children to walk to school, while older people feel more able to travel independently and safely. Calmer road speeds lead to better health, less noise, more social interaction and stronger communities.

Where do 20mph limits apply?

The 20mph network includes residential, shopping and city centre streets, with a strategic network of roads maintained at 30 and 40 mph. A map of the 20mph network is available on our website.

How will I know when I am on a road with a 20mph speed limit?

Large 20mph signs mark the entrance and exit of a 20mph area where the speed limit changes. These signs are supplemented by smaller repeater signs or road markings with speed limit roundels. The signage requirements for enforceable 20mph zones are set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.

Do slower speeds increase congestion?

Research indicates that slower speeds encourage a smoother driving style with less stopping and starting which helps traffic to flow. Evidence from other 20mph areas shows that, over the longer term, slower speeds encourage more people to walk and cycle, easing congestion on the road.

Will air pollution get worse?

Studies have so far not conclusively proven either a positive or negative effect on the environment: driving at 20 mph causes some emissions to rise slightly and some to fall. Reduced acceleration and braking may help to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions. Some environmental benefit from the change is expected from helping to unlock the potential for walking or cycling short distances instead of driving.

How will the new limits be enforced?

Police Scotland is supportive of improved road safety across the city and is working with the Council to achieve this. Police Scotland recognise that speed management is an important element of this and will continue to enforce speed limits across the city road network. 3 The new 20mph limit will rely on a shift in driver behaviour which will take time to embed. The Council is working with the Police to raise awareness of the new speed limits through road safety education and prevention activities.

What impact will slower speeds have on businesses?

Businesses can benefit from a more pleasant environment for shopping, 4 residents was carried out, revealing 79% in support of the new speed limit and only 4% against. The public consultation held in 2014 attracted nearly 3,000 responses from a wide range of individuals and organisations with a majority (60%) supporting or strongly supporting the proposals and 36% opposing or strongly opposing them.

Are other towns and cities doing something similar?

20mph speed limits are in force in an increasing number of towns and cities across Europe and the UK. Bristol, a city very similar in size to Edinburgh, has introduced 20mph limits on a similar scale to Edinburgh. Portsmouth and Oxford have citywide 20mph limits on most roads. Several London Boroughs have introduced a 20mph limit on all roads that they control.

Do 20mph speed limits work?

National evidence has shown that sign-only 20mph speed limits can help to reduce average speeds and improve safety. Evidence from the pilot scheme in South Edinburgh showed similar results, with average speeds reduced to just over 20mph, and with larger falls in speeds on the roads that had higher average speeds before the limit was introduced. Of 1000 people surveyed in the South Edinburgh pilot area, 79% supported the 20mph limit, just 4% opposed it.

Why do 20mph speed limits need to apply 24 hours a day?

While the majority of casualties happen during daylight hours, there are a significant number of people injured at night particularly in the autumn and winter months and at weekends. It is also important that operating hours are clear to avoid any confusion.

Won’t it make driving harder?

This will be a change and it will take some conscious decision making as a driver to make a difference. It will take some time to become second nature. In reality we are rarely driving at a consistent speed, particularly in a city where we are constantly accelerating, decelerating and braking to respond to current traffic speeds, traffic lights or junctions, and other road users.

Aren’t 20mph limits just another way of unfairly targeting motorists?

Our aim is to balance the needs of drivers with the safety and environment of local residents. 20mph creates a safer environment for everyone, including motorists.

Will the Council profit from 20mph speeding fines?

The Council will not profit from the introduction of 20mph speed limits. Speeding fines are submitted to the UK Treasury through the Scottish Court Service and any 20mph fines will be treated in exactly the same way. 

How will the scheme be monitored?

We set up a monitoring programme at the start of the 20mph rollout in 2016 to monitor road traffic speeds, road casualties, and public perceptions.  Findings were reported to Committee in October 2019 approximately one year after completion of the final phase. Council officers will continue to monitor the 20mph network to determine speed and casualty trends over a longer period of time.

Who do I contact if I want to know more?

You can visit our 20mph council site or email or follow us on Facebook.