In order to make cycling safer, the Scottish Government has been urged by campaigners to pass legislation that reduces the speed limit from 30 to 20mph in residential streets.
While this was first suggested in September 2018 by Mark Ruskell MSP – the Restricted Roads (20mph speed limit) (Scotland) Bill – the renewed calls come after the death of a cyclist in Glasgow this month. According to official statistics, four cyclists have already been killed on Scotland’s roads in 2019.
Backing the move are the likes of Friends of the Earth Scotland, the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation and road charity Brake.
Currently, local authorities can establish 20mph zones in their own areas. Back in 2016, Edinburgh City Council introduced the speed limit of 20mph in the centre and the west of the city, and have since expanded this to cover 80 per cent of the streets in the capital. Fife and Clackmannanshire have also implemented the speed limit reductions.
Professor Chris Oliver, a former orthopaedic trauma surgeon and campaigner for Spokes – a Lothian-based cycling campaign – said there was clear evidence that lowering the speed limit could save lives and urged the Government to act:
“The speed limit is a key issue. What you have seen in Edinburgh is that since the 20mph has been introduced, the number of injuries has been falling quite dramatically.”
Mr Ruskell, who is MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, highlighted the importance of legislating a safer speed limit:
“It is internationally recognised as the safe urban limit and is the foundation for making streets safer to walk and cycle. By making 20 the norm in built-up areas we can provide the clarity that residents and motorists deserve.”
Additionally, it has been claimed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents that if average speeds were reduced by just one mph, the accident rate would fall by about five per cent.
While a Transport Scotland spokesman agreed that the 20mph should be implemented, it was suggested that this could only work in certain environments and is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach:
“We believe, and it is shared with many local authorities, that more evidence and further consideration needs to be given to the impact and consequences of a nationwide default 20 mph limit, including an assessment of Scotland’s road network, before the measure proposed in the Bill can be fully supported.”
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