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Police to enforce Edinburgh's 20mph limits

Wednesday 28th May 2014

Traffic police in Edinburgh have begun enforcing 20mph limits for the first time under a new ‘service level agreement’ between Edinburgh City Council and Police Scotland, according to a report in The Scotsman.

The Scotsman report says that police officers will be positioned at accident blackspots in Edinburgh, which is working towards becoming the first city in Scotland to introduce 20mph limits across all residential areas.

The news report says that until now “police have been unwilling to devote resources to 20mph speed traps but this will change under a deal struck with city chiefs”.

Edinburgh City Council has made enforcement of 20mph areas part of its service level agreement with Police Scotland. Under the agreement the council has provided £2.6m of funding to pay for 44 community constables and 12 city centre police officers.

The service level agreement – which The Scotsman says is the first of its kind – gives the council the right to a refund if officers are switched from their community role without approval.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh’s transport convenor, said the move would “send a clear message” to motorists.

Talking to The Scotsman, councillor Hinds said: “From our research and consultation with residents, we know that there’s widespread support in Edinburgh for a 20mph limit in residential streets, shopping areas and the city centre.

“Lower speeds in residential areas and shopping streets are not just good for safety and environmental reasons. Slower traffic makes streets more attractive to residents, pedestrians, cyclists and children, improves the environment for business and enhances quality of life.”

Superintendent Matt Richards, Police Scotland, said: “Plans to target distinct areas will be jointly discussed with partners and will be based primarily on accident and casualty numbers.

“This includes 20mph zones where prevention, warnings, patrols and enforcement activity are all options where appropriate, especially in areas where schools exist.”

The Scotsman says that statistics show that 97% of casualties hit by a car at 20mph will survive compared with just 50% at 30mph. The paper also says a “lack of enforcement has been a major gripe for pedestrian and cyclist pressure groups for years”.

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Let us not forget that the 30 mph (limit) was an arbitrary decision made almost a decade ago with little or no understanding of its benefits or failures.

It's also true that if one relies not on so called scientific trials but on public opinion, then if one was to put it to a vote by residents for say 5 or 10 or 15 or 20mph the majority of voters, being voters, would say 5mph.

On the other hand if put to the driving public, they would argue that 30 is about right with little or no need to decrease it. Though most drivers would agree to slow to 20mph near a school or hospital or park or wherever there may be a justifiable and obvious reason.

What Edinburgh proposes is just overkill. That said, if they need the money (after devolution) then why waste it on courses - just get the straight £100 fine.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (8) | Disagree (4)
+4

Tim makes some excellent observations regarding community action. Indeed we have always said that the key to understanding community-wide default 20mph limits is that they are "Community led - Establishment endorsed". And it is the combination of the two which makes them an effective change for the better in our urban realm.

And you know wide-area 20mph limits are never just signs alone or a sole engagement between sign and driver. They are all being accompanied by engagement processes and community debate that puts sharing of the public space between houses that we call streets into focus. And that debate naturally involves dissent and counter argument from those who don't share the same values regarding those spaces. And it is the legal and mandatory nature of the limits which does provide that establishment endorsement of the community wishes.

And as so many of our iconic cities are adopting this initiative then it is natural that the debate should move to a national level. And this site is a useful and informed forum for that debate on sharing and values to also take place.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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0

Apologies Dave if I appeared to have misunderstood the tone of your original comment. I wasn't sure if you yourself were displaying a cavalier attitude to speed limits and their enforcement, which is why I was asking about any professional involvement you may have (the two don't mix in my opinion) or simply trying to shine a light on the attitude of those who do have a problem with speed management. I don't think anyone's a 'perfect' driver but would like to think that contributors and readers of this website have mastered the fundamentals.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (6)
-3

Hugh:
I would not claim to be a perfect driver by any means, that does not mean that I am not able to understand what the problems are and have some good ideas about what may or may not work to solve them. I have safety responsibilities in heavy industry world wide, doesn't mean I don't hate wearing silly yellow hats and jackets and uncomfortable boots.
Dave Taylor, Guildford

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)
+5

I wonder what percentage of people that say they support 20 zones actually travel at less than 20 when they drive through residential areas that are currently 30's? -NVT-
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

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+9

Sounds like a bit of a self-discipline problem there Dave, which as you say could be quite common. No doubt you managed to contain yourself on your driving test like most, but bad habits can creep in over the years. (Er..do you work in road safety/accident prevention by any chance?)
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (7)
-6

I don't agree with some of your comments Hugh but I agree with that one. Treat people like idiots and it will encourage idiotic behaviour. I have to admit to a strange urge to put my foot down as soon as I am out of reach of a speed camera, or to ensure that if I am in a 20 limit I drive above it. Just being honest, I wonder if this is common? Just human behaviour I suppose, one guaranteed way to get a child to do something is to tell them not to do it.

It we were all robots 20 limits might work, but we are humans with many faults, it just is not as easy as that. Unfortunately the best results will come from gaining the cooperation and trust of drivers rather than just rules that make no sense to them. 20 limits and enforcement of those limits will further alienate drivers. Drivers that feel exploited and abused will be less careful and more dangerous.
Dave Taylor, Guildford

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+5

A very good comment Tim, particularly about those in support voluntarily observing a self-imposed 20 limit, rather than wait until they have to - I would hope some already do. It is indeed a pity that authorities have to impose such restrictions which wouldn't be necessary at all if more people had a sense of civic responsibility and consideration for their communities. Perhaps instead of signs with speed limits on them which some may find antagonistic, the signs should just say: "Please drive calmly and respectfully" - might induce more co-operation.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+2

The 30 urban limit was introduced in 1934 when most cars had cable operated drum brakes, often acting on two wheels, and not very pedestrian-friendly front ends. Why has car design and road design deteriorated so badly over the last 80 years that we now need 20 limits?

Btw, there's a difference between a proper 20mph speed limit (as depicted above) and a "20 Zone".
Richard, Maidenhead

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)
+3

I'm fairly sure there is no definitive answer to the question of effectiveness of 20mph limits. It is clear that the 30 limit permits behaviour that has unwelcome consequences, while merely changing the limit to 20 is a recipe for widespread contravention given the type of motor vehicles currently using the roads. Neither enforcement nor engineering can truly overcome the problem.

But it has never been easier for people to organise round a shared agenda. Just as some Scotsman commentators have suggested civil disobedience in reaction to this issue, so the residents of Anytown can organise to voluntarily observe a maximum speed of 20mph if they chose. They don’t even need a change from a 30 limit to do this. Frankly, what is most likely to bring about any change is the combination of action and social pressure and that has to begin with the residents who want their community to be safer. This is the true test for all who express their support for the idea.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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+4

Have a look at the local article and the comments and votes:

http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/police-to-enforce-city-20mph-zones-for-first-time-1-3420698

"councillor Hinds said: “From our research and consultation with residents, we know that there’s widespread support..."

I don't think so.
Dave Taylor, Guildford

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0

Michal, I suspect that soon, 20 will be considered too fast, and rather then "20s plenty" we'll be hearing something like "10s oodles" or something, then it won't just be bicycles breaking the limit, it will be joggers, invalid vehicles, lawn mowers, street cleaning machines, etc, we will have to worry about.
Dave Taylor, Guildford

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+1

How are they going to enforce this limit on cyclists? I sometimes follow cyclists on my motorcycle and it's common for riders on carbon-fibre super sport cycles to exceed 30 and the fastest of them was doing 44 mph downhill. Average person on a street bike can easily exceed 20. Will they be treated the same as motorists? I doubt that.
Michal, London

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+9

I think it's about time that we split the people who post into this forum into two distinct 'camps' which will make it easier for everybody to understand a particular point of view. I suggest the first camp should be for those among us who think that the road transport system is fundamentally safe and that the path to greater road safety is mapped through stronger rules and restrictions with greater levels of compliance. The second camp should be those of us who think that the road transport system is fundamentally unsafe, but it is only made safe by the people operating within it and that their errors expose the underlying problems in the system.

Let's call the first camp the Bad Apple Theorists and let's call the second camp the New View Theorists. If everybody signed off their postings with either BAT for the bad apple theory supporters and NVT for the new view theory supporters then we can get an idea of which theory or world view has the strongest support. - NVT -
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

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-3

If they banned all vehicle movements, there would be no accidents! If this is your only criteria then that would be a success.
Terry Hudson, Kent

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+8

"Councillor Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh’s transport convenor, said the move would “send a clear message” to motorists." Yes, the clear message is that they want more money. While it costs about £100 to go on a course, far in excess of what it could possibly cost, what other message could be received? If it's about safety, why don't they charge what it costs, perhaps £20, then not only would more people go on the course but the perception of money making would be eliminated.
Dave Taylor, Guildford

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+1

Why run yet more expensive trials? Is there not already ample data out there in Stats19 including accident locations to within 1 metre (in Cambridgeshire within 10cm, I kid you not) now to be able to establish what effect 20mph areas have had on accident numbers?

And would that not be cheaper than continuing to spend massive amounts of money on unproven policies?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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0

Common sense would tell you that if you increase the number of 20mph zones the annual casualty tolls on them will increase accordingly but could this enterprise be a way of forcing commuters to use the newly introduced and over budget trams in Edinburgh? Excuse the scepticism but the timing might suggest so.
Jeff Taylor, Cumbria

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+1

Both Eric and Dave Finney emphasise that casualties have supposedly increased in 20 zones, but have either of them actually examined all these individual accidents and their circumstances and satisfied themselves that there was indeed a direct link between those accidents happening and the lower limits? If not, then they can't keep implying there is every time this subject comes up.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (12) | Disagree (7)
+5

Rod says "when particular results have been dissagregated ...", and he wonders why I accuse him of cherry picking! Increased casualties in 20mph are very real and wholly credible.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (7) | Disagree (13)
-6

Would it not be more cost effective to have fixed speed cameras in place at hot spots as they cover 24/7 and can't be rerostered somewhere else, or are they not allowed in a 20mph zone?
Jeff taylor, Cumbria

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-2

I am sure the locals will enjoy the increased pollution.
Roger Harding

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-2

Across all residential areas.... that tells me that it's not going to be a blanket cover as wanted by this government but a mix of in/out 20 and 30 mph area.

This is going to cost quite a lot more money as it will require 20 and 30 mph signage on all roads affected. It also means that local authorities may (or will) be required to put in place passive measures such as humps, bumps, cushions etc again at an extra cost.

Of the 56 additional police officers are they to be used solely for the purpose of administrating these accident black spots or will they be required to participate in other perhaps more pressing police duties? In three years time will we be able to say with confidence that 20 mph works or will we say that 56 police officers giving a greater presence on the streets works? Which one will it be?

I would suspect that one might look at the local crime figures in those particular areas too, to see if there is also a decline in crime.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (3)
+1

I am afraid I don't subscribe to this being a matter of "camps". Clearly councillors and officers in Edinburgh are in favour of 20mph limits from many perspectives, including road safety.

And whilst many of those campaigning against slower speeds cite "unenforceablility" as a reason not to set lower speed limits, this report shows that "enforceability" only depends on the will of the appropriate authorities to maximise compliance.

The "increased casualty" straw is one that has never been credible and when particular results have been dissagregated and analysed show positive road safety trends.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (9) | Disagree (7)
+2

From previous postings, and my correspondence directly with Rod King and Dave Finney, the "contest" for who wants to "see better road safety" boils down to Dave Finney wanting reduced casualties, and trials to provide evidence of what achieves that, while Rod King wants 20mph despite evidence showing increased casualties in some 20mph schemes and he has often said that 20mph aspirations are "beyond road safety".

An academic institution recently reclassified its involvement in social marketing for a major 20mph campaign from "Improving Road Safety" to "Behaviour in Travel and Transport".
I would hope that Road Safety Professionals are in the Dave Finney camp.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (9) | Disagree (12)
-3

Is Dave Finney really implying that he speaks for everyone who "wants to see better road safety"?

I certainly want to "see better road safety" and can confirm that he certainly does not speak for me. I suspect he also does not speak for the councilors representing 14m people in the UK who have a a direct responsibility for road safety and are implementing wide scale 20mph limits. In most of these, 20mph trials have been conducted and after extensive and detailed analysis by those responsible for road safety have resulted in approval of expansion.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (11) | Disagree (9)
+2

The report says, "The Scotsman report says that police officers will be positioned at accident blackspots in Edinburgh...." what is the reason for these accident (collision) black spots? If they are identified as blackspots then surely they should be fixed and would no longer be accident blackspots, therefore no need to have them policed. Now is the 20mph speed limit in these blackspots as a measure to slow traffic down or indeed is there a 20mph limit at these spots? Who knows?
Trevor Baird Northern Ireland

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+6

Point taken Mr Sharp. At the end of the day, from the residents and motorists point of view, there will be a visible presence, whoever it may be, which could make a big difference in levels of compliance.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+8

This article isn't about PCSOs - we don't have them in Scotland. The Community officers referred to here are proper Police officers with all the powers of arrest, stopping vehicles, issuing penalty notices, etc.. The term "community" officers refers to their role to differentiate them from other specialist roles (such as Road Policing, CID, ...)
D Sharp, Midlothian

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)
+9

Hugh:
I am not knocking civilians in police type uniforms but for goodness sake let's have 44 police officers doing the same job. Being present on the streets and being able not only to stop and speak to an offender but to prosecute should that be considered appropriate.

CSOs cannot stop and cannot detain - that would be an unlawful arrest. So let's stop pussyfooting about. There are a lot of persons contributing to this forum who would like to see many more police officers out on the streets.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (13) | Disagree (3)
+10

Bob:
You're knocking the PCSOs unfairly. Amongst other things, they gather intelligence on speeders and speeding hot-spots and other motoring offences from within the community and maintain a presence in those communities where the regular police can't. As far as the motoring public are concerned, they're the 'police' and will stop if requested to - the only diference as far as I know, is that it's not an offence not to stop. Once stopped, they can be spoken to, even if it's not a prosecution and - who knows - one accident prevented possibly.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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-5

Hugh
They could be disagreeing with Edinburgh's plans, not Rod's reference to that report.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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+1

Can someone tell me what value 44 community officers have. They have no police powers to stop and report. I would rather see 44 police officers back out on the streets and forget the community officers....they are not officers anyway, they hold no warrant.
bob craven Lancs

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+5

Why the 'disagrees' to Rod's comment? He appears to be simply reporting a fact - is it wrong? I think some readers automatically 'agree' or 'disagree' with comments by certain people, regardless of the content.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (15) | Disagree (7)
+8

And Edinburgh has just announced plans to set 20mph limits for its city centre streets as well see http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/council-unveils-city-centre-20mph-speed-limit-plan-1-3424899
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (8) | Disagree (6)
+2

20mph is a real problem for those of us wanting to see better road safety. Evidence on the effects of 20mph is inconclusive with increases in serious injury rates in many 20mph areas. The controversy could be settled by running scientific trials but none are yet planned.

Speed enforcement in 20mph definitely needs to be trialled but it must be performed within scientific trials. If scientific trials were run then debate would be informed by the best quality evidence and, if they clearly show speed enforcement in 20mph improves safety, who could possibly object?
Dave Finney, Slough

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-2