Last week we revealed the results of a Freedom of Information Request which showed that Lothian Buses were lobbying against the introduction of more widespread 20mph speed limits on city bus routes – apparently putting profits ahead of the road safety benefits that slower speeds would bring.
Since then the Evening News ran a story based on our FOI request, (without mentioning their source bless them) and local members of the City Cycling Edinburgh Forum Ross C Brown and Andy Arthur have been out collecting and analysing more bus speed evidence using GPS devices, normally used for cycling, that track speed and location. As they have produced a load of really good graphs, it seemed their heroic efforts deserved a blog post.
Their findings add more weight to the conclusion that a 20mph limit on most city centre shopping streets – like Leith Walk and Princes Street – would make virtually no difference whatsoever to Lothian Buses.
Before turning to technology, Andy first had a look at Lothian Buses timetables themselves. They suggest that the average speed of a Lothian Bus is considerably less than 20mph.
But as Lothian Buses promptly pointed out on Twitter in response to the table above – only considering average speeds doesn’t account for the time spent at 0mph letting passengers on and off.
@cocteautriplets Hi Andy. This table does'nt account for buses stopping to pick up & drop off passengers which we build into the timetables.
— Lothian Buses (@on_lothianbuses) September 24, 2013
Undeterred, Andy and Ross turned to GPS technology – seeking to find out how often a typical off-peak bus actually goes over 20mph in the city centre.
First they plotted the speed of a 22 on an off-peak journey from Ocean Terminal to Lothian Road. As you can see from the results below, the bus barely went over 20mph at all.
After the 22, they then turned to the number 26, catching a bus from Meadowbank to Princes Street.
As can be seen, the results are remarkably similar.
Of course, if you were a cynic you would say to yourself, well this is still just two segments of two bus journeys. It’s not decisive. And most people would agree with you, but this data – along with the earlier similar experiments by Dave McCraw – are the best evidence that’s in the public domain. Members of the City Cycling Forum may well collect further data.
But to settle the discussion once and for all, Lothian Buses could look at the mountains of bus tracker data they must have to work out where a 20mph limit would make little difference to their service and where it would be a problem. And they could publish it.
It would seem that if Lesley Hinds the Transport Convenor has her way, the firm might have to.
@cocteautriplets I will ask Lothian Buses for their evidence
— Lesley Hinds (@LAHinds) September 27, 2013