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An evaluation report has concluded that the Council’s pioneering roll-out of 20mph speed limits across Edinburgh has broadly met the project’s aims and objectives. The report also recommends beginning the process to add further roads to the 20mph network.

Evaluation of the 20mph Speed Limit Roll Out, to be considered by members of the Transport and Environment Committee on Friday (11 October), assesses the impact of 20mph on speeds, road traffic collisions and public attitudes, as well as other factors based on monitoring carried out before and after the network was introduced.

Amongst the findings were a statistically significant reduction in speeds across the 66 sites surveyed, with speeds dropping by 1.34mph on average, and by up to 2.41mph in some areas, and an increase in the number of vehicles with average speeds of 20mph or less. For every 1mph reduction in speed research has shown a 6% reduction in accidents, demonstrating the significance of these changes.

Research shows support for the scheme has grown since its implementation – more than 1200 household surveys carried out before and after revealed that 65% of respondents are now in support, with 24% strongly supporting it, compared to 58% and 20% before the roll-out. Safety and an improved environment for walking and cycling were amongst the most important factors for participants.

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “These initial results demonstrate that by leading the way to become Scotland’s first 20mph city we are having a real impact on the safety and wellbeing of people in Edinburgh.

“Research shows that for every 1mph reduction in speed there is a 6% reduction in accidents so the evidence that speeds are dropping by more than twice as much in some areas is extremely positive. Of course, there is still work to be done to encourage compliance and these findings will help us to target resources to achieve this.

“Our vision is for a safe, sustainable and active transport future in Edinburgh, and calmer speeds are key to this. More relaxed streets will encourage cycling and walking, reducing the risk of road traffic accidents and improving the quality of life for all road users.”

Police have been active in enforcing the message

Evaluation shows a substantial reduction in road traffic collisions post-20mph implementation compared to three years before. However, it is considered that more data is needed before firm conclusions can be attributed to the 20mph limit. It is intended to report back to committee three years after completion of the final phase of the network.

Since beginning the 20mph roll-out, the Council has received requests from across the city to add further streets to the network. As a result, officers have assessed several streets for inclusion, considering factors such as the character and function of the street, the number of collisions and walking and cycling rates. Consequently, the report recommends starting the process to reduce the speed limit on a number of streets, including Craighall Road (from Stanley Road to Ferry Road), Bo’ness Road and Granton Road (from Ferry Road to Granton Square).

In response to public support and requests for more 20mph streets, it is proposed that a review of the road network currently retaining a limit of 30mph or more is carried out, in order to proactively identify any further streets where a reduction in speed limit may be appropriate. A report on the format of the review will be brought to committee in 2020.

It is also recommended that additional speed surveys take place on 20mph streets where concerns have been raised about non-compliance and above-average speeds, with a view to investigating additional measures such as signage or targeted enforcement by Police Scotland.

Data from the report will contribute to a major independent research project instigated by the Scottish Collaboration of Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP), part of the University of Edinburgh, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to examine the public health impacts of the introduction of 20mph zones based on a comparative study of Edinburgh and Belfast, which will be reported in 2020.

Read the full report, Evaluation of the 20mph Speed Limit Roll Out, on the Council website.

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