After three years of preparation and consultation the City of Edinburgh Council announced this week that 80% of city streets are to become 20mph streets.
Whilst large areas of Leith already had a 20mph limit, the key routes to benefit from the move include Leith Walk, Easter Road, Great Junction Street, Pilrig Street and Bonnington Road (all the dark blue streets in the map above.)
Although the announcement had long been expected, formal confirmation will nevertheless please the many Leithers who backed the move. Indeed, Greener Leith has been campaigning for a roll out of 20mph zones in the neighbourhood for four years.
After the vote Leith Councillor and deputy transport convenor Adam McVey said: “We were pleased to receive positive feedback from every community council that responded to the consultation, as well as a large number of organisations.”
It turned out that after thousands of people responded to the 20mph consultation, 60% of respondents either supported or strongly supported the proposals.
Whilst the decision is undoubtedly good for Leith as a whole, some busy streets, which are certainly ‘residential’ in character have inexplicably been excluded from the new network.
The streets that are to remain at 30mph include London Road, Lindsay Road, Commercial Street, Salamander Street, Craighall Road and parts of Ferry Road. All streets which have a residential character (They’re the orange streets on the nap above).
These exclusions will undermine the benefits of the 20mph plan. 20mph limits improve road safety, reduce congestion, increase the capacity of the street, and help to tackle air pollution.
For example, a quick look at a site like crash map, shows that the vast majority of accidents happen on these arterial routes. Thus, if the council were serious about tackling road safety issues, it seems counter-intuitive to exclude some of the streets where the change could have the largest impact.
Similarly, the residents of Salamander Street currently have the misfortune to live on the 3rd most polluted street in Scotland, when it comes to air pollution. Pollution levels for small particles on the street break legal limits.
Meanwhile air quality levels on London Road, Ferry Road, and Commercial Street, whilst not breaking legal limits, remain close to them. Surely, therefore, there is a strong case for including these streets in the 20mph zone because of this?
Part of the reason streets like Lindsay Road, Commercial Street and Salamander Street have been excluded seems to be because officials want to maintain a higher speed “arterial route” around the north of the city – even though may residents oppose the idea.
The proposals, as they stand, will see the speed limit switch every few hundred metres between 20,30 and 40mph as people travel from Joppa to Granton. It would seem far less confusing for all involved if larger stretches where all zoned at 20mph, to form a continuous area.
This should include all of the residential parts of Lindsay Road, Commercial Street and Salamander Street.
At the council committee meeting this week, it was agreed that extra streets could be added to the proposals if there were clear support for it.
Also, officials at the meeting admitted that it could take a number of years to implement the 20mph plan, raising the prospect that it could in fact be a long time before these plans are implemented in Leith.
Officials are proposing to produce a new report, due in March, that will detail much the plan will cost, and how the new 20mph proposals will be implemented.
Therefore, if you think the likes of Lindsay Road, Commercial Street, Salamander Street and London Road should be included in the plans, or if you’d like to try to ensure that 20mph limits come to Leith sooner rather than later, now is the time to write to your councillors to tell them.
An easy way to send your councillors an email is to use the service: writetothem.com