20mph divides public opinion in Edinburgh

Friday October 6th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

People in Edinburgh are “divided” over plans to reduce the speed limit to 20mph on more streets across the city, new research by the council has suggested.

An expansion of the capital’s network 20mph roads network was put to the public for feedback as officials prepare to draw up final proposals set to be agreed early next year.

Streets which could see lowered speed limits include London Road, Ferry Road, Portobello Road and streets with a ‘significant role for walking and cycling’.

However city transport chief Councillor Scott Arthur said the consultation response “isn’t really what I expected,” adding: “I thought there would be broader support.”

A report on independent market research and a survey which attracted over 4,000 responses said overall public opinion “appears to be divided on whether to further expand 20mph speed limits”.

Results showed 57.7 per cent of questionnaire respondents and 31.36 per cent of those surveyed for the market research – which used a sample of 472 people demographically representative of Edinburgh’s population – thought there should be no increase in the number of 20mph roads at all.

In addition Lothian Buses expressed concerns about the impact the changes would have on bus journey times and timetabling.

Cllr Arthur said: “In terms of overall journey times in the city, I don’t think reducing the speed limit on some of these roads is going to make much difference because most of these routes are already at 20. There’s maybe a bit more work to be done on congestion to understand exactly what this would mean for journey times overall.”

Edinburgh became the first city in Scotland to implement a citywide network of 20mph streets in 2018 and since then road casualties have fallen by 30 per cent, with previous research showing there was an “appetite for wider application,” according to the council.

Currently around 86 per cent of the capital’s streets have a 20mph speed limit and extending to all mentioned in the consultation would increase this to 90 per cent.

The report said feedback revealed the highest level of support for retaining 30mph was on sections of the following streets: London Road, Ferry Road, Corstorphine Road, Colinton Road, Lanark Road West, Queensferry Road, Dalkeith Road, Lanark Road, Glenlockhart Road, Crewe Road South and Duddingston Road West.

The streets with the highest levels of support to change to 20mph include sections of Lindsay Road, Minto Street and Portobello Road as well as Colinton Road, Lanark Road West and Queensferry Road.

Meanwhile the local authority is also reviewing speed limits on rural roads near Currie, Balerno, Ratho, Queensferry and Kirkliston, with plans to introduce a 40mph limit on the majority of roads with two lanes, a 30mph limit on narrower two-lane roads, tight bends, and on most country lanes and a 20mph limit for groups of houses in rural areas.

However the consultation did not indicate significant public support for these measures either, showing that 48 per cent of survey respondents and 61 per cent of those spoken to for the market research think speeds around Edinburgh are “about right”.

Cllr Arthur said: “This consultation response isn’t really what I expected. I’ve been a councillors since 2017 and in that time no resident in my ward has asked for a street to go back to 30mph.

“I thought there would be broader support than what we see in this report.

“We know that in Edinburgh there’s been a reduction in accidents and even a reduction in deaths because of the implementation of the 20mph speed limit to date. So that’s obviously really powerful evidence to weigh up against the public response as well.”

Final plans on which roads will get reduced speed limits will be presented to councillors for approval in February next year.

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