A Scottish Green Party MSP has launched a three-month consultation on a proposed ‘Safer Streets’ Member’s Bill, which would lower the default speed limit in urban areas across Scotland from 30mph to 20mph.
The press release which announced the consultation referred to an opinion poll which showed that ‘most Scots support the idea’, while a quarter of respondents said a 20mph limit would ‘make them more likely to walk or cycle’.
The web page where the consultation can be found says: “20mph speed limits reduce traffic speed making our streets safer, healthier and cleaner in areas where we live, work and play. Reducing speed cuts accidents and saves lives, while encouraging walking and cycling and lowering air pollution.
“However there is currently an incomplete patchwork of 20mph zones across Scotland as the process for creating (them) remains costly and time-consuming for councils.”
While Mark Ruskell MSP Member’s Bill would change the default speed limit in built up areas across Scotland from 30mph to 20mph, councils could keep higher speed limits on some streets in consultation with communities, but these ‘would be the exception rather than the rule’.
Mark Ruskell MSP said: "30mph limits date back a century and the process of creating 20mph zones is too slow and too costly.
“By bringing forward legislation I want to create safer streets so we reduce the risk for pedestrians and cyclists, especially children and the elderly.”
Mr Ruskell’s proposed Bill is supported by the British Lung Foundation Scotland, Living Streets Scotland and the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us.
Irene Johnstone, head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: "We want to protect Scotland’s lungs from dirty air. There are around one million people here currently living with a lung disease. We need to explore all policy solutions to tackle this public health crisis.
“Traffic emissions are the major cause of pollution in our towns and cities. A 20mph speed limit could be a step in the right direction, by encouraging more people to cycle and walk."
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.”
In a briefing issued today (26 June) 20’s Plenty for Us is asking individuals and organisations to ‘help Mark Ruskell make history by being the first country in the world to agree 20mph limits as the normal road speed’.
The briefing goes on to list benefits of 20mph limits including ‘about 20% fewer casualties and 7-10 times fewer fatalities’. It also suggests that ‘every 1mph less reduces crashes (by) 5-6%’.
Earlier this month researchers at the University of Edinburgh launched a new study which will evaluate the impact of 20mph speed limits in two British cities – Belfast and Edinburgh – over the next three years.
The results of another study looking at whether 20mph limits reduce speeds and collisions, being carried out by Atkins on behalf of the DfT, are expected later this year or early in 2018.
Click here to respond to Mark Ruskell’s consultation and to access supporting paperwork including the full consultation paper and a summary, along with responses to date. The consultation runs until 7 August 2017.