Speed limit campaigners receive a boost

The 20mph zone in Holyrood Park. Andrew O'Brien photography.
The 20mph zone in Holyrood Park. Andrew O'Brien photography.

Campaigners for a 20 mph default speed limit in urban areas have received a boost, with an opinion poll showing most Scots support the idea, while a quarter say the lower limit would make them more likely to walk or cycle.

It came ahead of the launch, on Monday, May 15, of a consultation by Green MSP Mark Ruskell on his proposed member’s bill to switch the default urban speed limit from 30 to 20 mph to make streets safer and cleaner.

The poll of 1,000 Scots by Survation shows that of those expressing an opinion, 65 per cent support a 20 mph speed limit in urban areas, while 35 per cent oppose.

It also shows, when don’t knows are removed, that 24.4 per cent are more likely to cycle with a lower limit. 7.9 per cent say they are less likely to cycle, while 67.7 per cent say they are no more or less likely to cycle.

Mark Ruskell MSP said: “There’s real momentum behind a 20 mph default limit. A wide range of interests from transport and health experts to environmental campaigners back the idea. And it’s great that we now know that a majority of the Scottish public are behind it.

“We have a great opportunity to make a small change that will have huge benefits for pedestrian safety, especially children and the elderly. It’s also good news for public health generally, as lower limits reduce air pollution and as this poll shows it will encourage more people to cycle along their streets.

“30 mph limits date back a century and in that time the volume and speed of traffic has increased. A lower limit will help us reclaim the streets where we live, shop and go to schools or day centres.

“The idea that 20 mph is only for drop off and pick up times immediately outside a school gate is thoroughly outdated. We need safer streets for all, and I look forward to launching the consultation on my member’s bill.”

Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland said: “We know that many communities across Scotland are concerned about the speed of vehicles in their streets. We also know that if speed is reduced then people of all ages are more likely to walk and cycle to school, to work and for local journeys. Streets with low speed limits become more liveable spaces.”

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, the road safety charity, said: ”We’re backing Mark’s proposed bill to introduce 20 mph limits in areas where people live and work. The evidence shows that such a move reduces collisions and casualties, and enables residents to live healthier, active lifestyles, whilst reducing pollution.”

John Lauder, National Director, Sustrans Scotland, had this to say: “Sustrans Scotland welcomes the launch of this consultation on Safer Streets. It is well evidenced that people feel safer walking and cycling in 20mph areas. 20mph areas help to increase social interactions and physical activity levels, they make it easier for people, particularly children and older people, to cross roads and they reduce traffic noise levels.”

Currently, the default speed limit is 30mph in built-up areas, but local authorities can embark on a cumbersome process to change the limit to 20mph zones. In Edinburgh, where the majority of streets now have 20mph speed limits, the process took five years. However, Scottish Government policy favours 20mph limits in built-up areas.

Friends of the Earth’s Air Pollution Campaigner Emilia Hanna, said: “Driving at 20mph means safer roads, cleaner air and reduced emissions from traffic. The proposal is an important step towards helping Scotland’s children breathe clean air.

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Taylor Wimpey have confirmed directly with local Councillor Nathan Wilson that the organisation retains its commitment to building a park and ride at Shieldmuir Train Station. In response to recent enquiries made by Councillor Wilson, Taylor Wimpey have advised that engagement is taking place with Network Rail over the latter’s approval procedures and that once this process is complete, work will be able to begin on site. The developer has informed the Motherwell Councillor that during the period of investigation undertaken since the commencement of building work was delayed in January 2018, an unrecorded service chamber has been discovered on site. The project cannot move forward until further clarification is provided on the nature of the service chamber and Taylor Wimpey are in the process of commissioning a contractor to assess the situation. The developer’s initial judgement is that this is likely a redundant service. A senior representative of the organisation has also informed Councillor Wilson that a member of the Taylor Wimpey production team will be sent out to inspect the vacant land following a request he made at the beginning of 2019 for maintenance work to be carried out on site should construction of the park and ride remain some time away. Councillor Nathan Wilson said: “Taylor Wimpey have communicated to me directly that the park and ride facility is a project that the organisation remains committed to delivering. “However, it goes without saying that the lengthy delay is still very disappointing and frustrating. “An unrecorded service chamber has been identified on site and progress is unable to be made until this has been investigated. “Taylor Wimpey have relayed to me that an on-site inspection of the vacant land will take place and I hold to the view that maintenance work should be carried out in the short term to improve it’s current condition. “I will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders and re-inforce to them the importance of the park and ride project locally. Motherwell and Wishaw CAB takes home 40 per cent of the prizes

“There are huge air quality and public health gains to be made from 20mph speed limits. Research shows that 20mph limits result in fewer accident rates and lower traffic levels. Crucially, 20mph limits will also tackle a key barrier to cycling which is fear of fast, dangerous vehicles.

“Children growing up in our town and cities should be able to feel safe to walk, cycle, and play in their neighbourhoods, and slowing the traffic to 20mph is just the way to help achieve friendlier, safer, and cleaner neighbourhoods. If you want cleaner air and safer streets, you should back this plan.

“Air pollution in Scotland remains a public health crisis, and has been linked to cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and around 2500 early deaths every year. Levels of air pollution remain dangerously high in all of our major cities.

“While 20mph speed limits are a welcome step in tackling air pollution, much more needs to be done. The Scottish Government must also fund a network of Low Emission Zones in each of our major cities in Scotland, it must tackle the dwindling bus sector head on through re-regulation and it must invest in safe walking and cycling routes.”