A Bill to make 20mph the default speed limit across Scotland looks unlikely to succeed, having received a lukewarm reception from the Scottish Government and Police Scotland.
Speaking to the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee, which is currently scrutinising the Restricted Roads (20mph speed limit) Scotland Bill, transport secretary Michael Matheson said decisions about 20mph speed limits ‘were best left to councils’.
Mr Matheson warned that the Bill, which will be presented to the Scottish Parliament for its stage one debate later this year, could even jeopardise the Government’s active travel spending.
Reported by Transport Xtra, Mr Matheson told MSPs: “As the Bill stands, we do not think that it is the most effective way to take forward the agenda of getting a greater number of 20mph roads and zones in the right places.
“There are some restricted roads that we would not want to be 20mph and there are roads that are not restricted that we might want to have as 20mph roads.”
Mr Matheson also pointed to the recently published DfT report on 20mph, produced by Atkins, which found insufficient evidence of a reduction in collisions and casualties following the introduction of 20mph limits in residential areas.
He added: “(The report) reinforces our view that taking a blanket approach is not necessarily the best way to ensure that we achieve what we are trying to get from introducing 20mph zones.”
Mr Matheson said the Scottish Government is working with partners to explore ways of simplifying the implementation of 20mph limits.
‘Clear majority’ support the Bill
The Bill was first introduced in September 2018 by Mark Ruskell, a Scottish Green Party MSP, who says making 20mph ‘the norm’ in urban areas would reduce injuries and deaths and cut air pollution.
Last week, Mr Ruskell published the findings of a survey, which he says shows that a ‘clear majority’ of people support his proposal.
The poll suggests that – once those who ‘neither agree nor disagree with the policy’ were removed – 72% of respondents said they support the introduction of 20mph default speed limits.
Mark Ruskell MSP said: “All the evidence demonstrates that introducing a 20mph limit in residential areas across Scotland would save lives.
“Given the evidence, and the public backing my proposition has, it is now time for the Scottish Government to get behind my Bill, ensuring that we put the lives of children ahead of maintaining the status quo.”
Enforcement ‘would not be a priority’ for Police Scotland
Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, Police Scotland’s head of road policing, has told the Scottish Government that enforcing the proposed 20mph limits would not be a priority for the force.
Reported in the Scotsman, Mr Carle told the Government’s rural economy and connectivity committee: “I would have concerns that the Bill seeks to impose 20mph as a blanket.
“20mph will not be a priority. The majority of casualties are on higher-speed roads. I must prioritise where there is the biggest impact.
“Suddenly switching a lot of resources from faster roads would not give the same gain.”