There will be more 20 mph zones coming to Scotland in the near future. The plan is that all 30 mph speed limits will be dropped to 20 mph unless a valid reason is provided as to why they should remain at a speed limit of 30 mph. A report to the Council’s Road Safety Forum on 20 mph Speed limits will be discussed on the 21st November 2023.
There has been a backlash in some quarters about the whole idea of 20mph speed limits, because they will make journey times very marginally longer. So why is it that the UK and Scottish Governments are pushing ahead with these schemes?
A major reason is a reduction in accidents. Slower vehicle speeds mean fewer collisions, as drivers have more time to think and any injuries are less severe at lower speeds. A second reason is pollution reduction. These days, with improved engines, particulate pollution from tyres, brakes and road surfaces are potentially more serious problem for health (cardiovascular, respiratory diseases and cancer) than exhaust emissions. Both non-exhaust sources of pollution are reduced when vehicles travel at lower speeds.
Ultimately the aim is that people will feel safer moving about in their in their streets and will be more likely to walk or wheel leading to a reduction in car use and generally improve the liveability of an area and health of the people who may be inclined to walk or wheel more.
Although it’s up to individual councils to decide where in detail to implement 20mph speed limits, there is a presumption that unless there is a valid reason all roads currently zoned as 30mph would be changed to 20mph. Roads particularly benefitting from this would be residential and shopping areas and where there are active travel trip generators (e.g. schools) or where it could improve conditions for vulnerable road users and encourage a shift to more sustainable modes of transport and improve local quality of life.
To encourage the council to be bold in its decision making, a petition is running for residents of South Lanarkshire to demonstrate their support for 20mph limits. You can sign the petition here. 20 mph limits are only part of a wider effort to improve the liveability of our streets and reclaim them for people.
One Green councillor, Kirsten Robb in East Kilbride East is running street audits with local residents to uncover issues specific to that area that prevent or discourage people from getting out and about. 20mph speed limits may be part of the solution. If you have concerns about your street, get together with your neighbours, walk along your area noting down and take photos of any issues. Submit these to your council or councillor for action. Or if you live in East Kilbride East, contact Kirsten for help.