20mph limit only reduces speed by 1.3 mph

Monday October 7th 2019


Edinburgh Council has rolled out 20mph zones across the city with the project’s mascot, the reducer

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, David Bol

Transport chiefs have been blasted after a £3m drive to roll out 20mph limits across the Capital has only led to reducing speeds of motorists by 1.3mph.

Evaluation of the 20mph speed limit roll-out, to be considered by the city council’s transport and environment committee on Friday, has assessed the impact of the limit reduction on speeds, road traffic collisions and public attitudes. But the findings have revealed that monitoring of the 66 sites surveyed showed speeds dropping by an average of 1.34mph and the biggest drop in one area was 2.1mph.

The seven-day average speed dropped from 23.63mph to 22.29mph after the implementation of the 20mph project. Officials say casualties have “fallen substantially” since the 20mph was rolled out but “it is not yet possible to ascribe reductions to the 20mph limit as opposed to an overall falling trend”.

The findings also show that 40 per cent of people in the city said they had not seen any information about the 20mph roll out, only one in five people in the Capital believe traffic speeds have actually reduced in their area – while police officers have issued less than 100 fines in the three years since the roll out of the project began, averaging just three fines every month.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, Councillor Kevin Lang, said: “It is clear this 20mph project is still struggling to get out of first gear.

“After soaking up almost £3 million of public money, average speeds have fallen by just 1.34 miles per hour. Only a fifth of people say traffic speeds have reduced in their area.”

He added: “It is obvious that SNP and Labour councillors have botched what should have been a positive and transformative project. Their major advertising campaign failed to connect with the public. They relied on cardboard cut-outs of police on street corners to change behaviour whilst real police officers said enforcement was not a priority.

“It shows much more work is needed if the promised improvements in road safety are going to be delivered. There is simply no room for complacency from the administration.”

The council has received requests to add further streets to the 20mph network and officers have assessed several streets for inclusion. If approved by councillors on Friday, the process will begin to reduce the speed limit on a number of streets, including Craighall Road (from Stanley Road to Ferry Road),
Bo’ness Road and Granton Road (from Ferry Road to Granton Square).

Conservative transport spokesperson, Councillor Nick Cook, said: “For years only the Conservatives spoke out against the council’s lazy, one-size-fits-all approach to road safety.

“Speed reductions of less than 1.5 mph strongly reinforce the evidence based concerns we have consistently raised. Millions have been wasted on a blanket scheme, when money could have been better invested in improving safety at accident black spots.”

It is also proposed that a review of the road network currently retaining a limit of 30mph or more is carried out to identify any further streets where a reduction in speed limit may be appropriate. It is also recommended that additional speed surveys take place on 20mph streets where concerns
have been raised about non-compliance and above-average speeds, with a view to investigating additional measures such as signage or targeted enforcement by Police Scotland.

Transport and environment convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “These initial results demonstrate that by leading the way to become Scotland’s first 20mph city, we are having a real impact on the safety and wellbeing of people in Edinburgh.

“Research shows that for every 1mph reduction in speed there is a six per cent reduction in accidents so the evidence that speeds are dropping by more than twice as much in some areas is extremely positive.”

She added: “Of course, there is still work to be done to encourage compliance and these findings will help us to target resources to achieve this.

“Our vision is for a safe, sustainable and active transport future in Edinburgh, and calmer speeds are key to this. More relaxed streets will encourage cycling and walking, reducing the risk of road traffic accidents and improving the quality of life for all road users.”

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