With Edinburgh’s first 20mph zone set to come into force on Sunday (31 July), IAM RoadSmart says it is ‘unconvinced’ by the scheme’s ‘blanket approach’.
The first zone is phase one of the City of Edinburgh Council’s planned rollout of a 20mph speed limit on all residential, shopping and city centre streets which when complete will cover more than 80% of the city’s roads.
Approved in January 2015 after public consultation with local communities, businesses and other stakeholders, the multi-million pound scheme is the first of its kind in Scotland.
The council says the new limits are aimed at increasing safety for all road users as well as creating a calmer, more people-friendly environment in shopping and residential streets.
In preparation for the ‘go live’, 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 and road markings.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh’s transport convener, 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 and I’m delighted to see the first phase going live.”
However, IAM RoadSmart says it is ‘unconvinced’ of the value of the council’s decision because the proposals amount to a city-wide limit that doesn’t address ‘specific problematic roads’.
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.”