20mph speed limit to go live in Edinburgh

Highways Reporters

A 20mph speed limit is being imposed on the majority of streets in Edinburgh from Sunday (31 July).  

The multi-million pound Edinburgh Council scheme is the first of its kind in Scotland and will affect more than 80% of the city’s roads.

In becoming Scotland's first 20mph city, Edinburgh follows a growing number of European and UK cities (e.g. 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.

In preparation for the 'go live' on 31 July, large 20mph signs have been erected 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.”

IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s leading independent road safety charity, remain unconvinced by the city-wide limit.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart policy and research director, said: “It’s a blanket approach. On some streets, 20mph is a speed that you might aspire to rather than need to limit yourself to. But there are others where it looks and feels safer to go over 20, and that’s potentially confusing because drivers take their cue from the environment.

“If you look at the evidence, what seems to work is measures like speed bumps and narrower roads. Covering whole areas in one 20mph limit and putting up some signs is a cheap way to do it. We’d rather see investment made in dealing with the streets where there will be the most benefit.”
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