Have your say on new 20mph streets and lower speed limits on rural roads

The Council is looking for views on proposals to expand the city’s network of 20mph streets, as well as lowering speed limits on roads that have limits of 40mph or more, which are mainly rural.

Edinburgh became Scotland’s first 20mph city in 2018, when 20mph speed limits were extended to cover 85% of the Capital’s streets. Since then, monitoring has shown a continued drop in speeds, as well as a 30% reduction in road casualties.

Previous evaluation of the speed limits, which aim to create safer, more welcoming streets and help facilitate active travel, also showed an increase in support for the scheme, while we have received additional requests for individual streets to be added to the 20mph network.

Officers have now carried out a review of all roads that retain a 30mph speed limit and have proposed lowering the speed limit to 20mph on streets across the city, based on a set of criteria approved by the Transport and Environment Committee in April 2021. If all of these streets were added to the 20mph network, it would cover around 90% of the city’s urban roads.

Amongst the criteria used for assessing a street’s suitability for a 20mph limit are whether it has higher density housing such as flats or terraced properties, if there are groups of shops and whether there are likely to be higher numbers of people walking or cycling (for example near a hospital or university campus).

Alongside the 20mph review we have investigated the potential to reduce speed limits on rural roads to provide a safer environment for those choosing to walk, cycle and ride horses. All rural roads in Edinburgh have been considered, including those near Currie, Balerno, Ratho, Queensferry and Kirkliston. Other roads outside the city bypass, near the airport and in the industrial area of Newbridge with a speed limit of 40mph or more have additionally been reviewed.

The proposed changes in rural speed limits would reduce the normal speed limit on two-lane rural roads to 40mph. Most minor country lanes would have a 30mph limit, with a 20mph limit through rural hamlets and also on a small number of minor lanes that are the most used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: 

Edinburgh led the way in 2015 by agreeing to become Scotland’s first 20mph city and since then its positive impacts have been made clear. Not only are speeds continuing to fall across the network, but casualties have also reduced, which is extremely encouraging. Independent research has shown that the number of collisions has fallen by 30%, and the number of injuries has dropped by a similar amount.

We know appetite for extending 20mph limits has grown over the years and we want to bring these benefits to even more people, creating safer, more relaxing streets to live in, visit and spend time in.

This is along with proposed speed limit reductions on many of our rural roads, most of which have the national 60mph speed limit. I would encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation to make sure changes work for everyone.

In the consultation the Council asks for comments on its recommendations for speed limit reductions across our Capital, but I hope and expect residents will consider urging it to go further by demanding more streets are included.

The consultation opened today (16 November). Views on the scale of the proposed extension to the 20mph network and on individual streets where lower limits are proposed will inform final recommendations to Transport and Environment Committee.

Lower speed limits support the aims of the City Mobility Plan by improving the way residents and visitors can move about and enjoy the city. By creating a safer environment for walking, wheeling and cycling as an alternative to private car use changes are intended to help tackle climate change, reduce congestion and improve air quality, as well as contributing to the Council’s Vision Zero approach to road safety.

Take part in the consultation, Speed Limits Review: 20mph and Rural Roads, on the Council website.

Published: November 16th 2022