This week at the council Transport Committee councillors agreed to extend 20mph speed limits in the city to, “all residential streets, to shopping areas, including the city centre, and to main roads with large numbers of pedestrians.”
Oh good you might think, especially if you were one of the many people who backed a 20mph speed limit, or better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, in one of the many consultation exercises that have been run looking at the future of Leith Walk.
To date, council officials have refused to include a 20mph speed limit in the plans for improving Leith Walk, on account of the fact that they wanted to wait and look at the outcome of the 20mph pilot in the southside of Edinburgh before making a decision.
Well these results are in, and they look good, but despite the vote at the city chambers this week, it turns out that the council have not yet actually decided exactly which streets will become 20mph streets yet. There is to be another round of public consultation, when council officers have come up with detailed proposals for which streets should remain 20, 30 and 40mph streets.
This extra round of consultation seems utterly superfluous when it comes to Leith Walk, so we thought we’d round up the evidence that indicates that there is considerable public support for 20mph limits on Leith Walk, in the hope that someone, somewhere will just agree to get on with it – along with all the other improvements.
Feeling unsafe and vulnerable is a key factor that stops more Leithers cycling
In 2009, we did a survey of 450 Leithers, mainly amongst parents at Hermitage Park Primary School, to look at how people felt about different modes of transport. Feeling vulnerable and unsafe on the roads was a major factor that deterred people who currently do not cycle from taking it up.
Similarly, reducing traffic noise and pollution was also identified as a factor that would encourage people to walk more.
If the council is serious about encouraging to get more people walking and cycling then it’s clear that a 20mph limit on Leith Walk will support this.
Local people want more priority for walking and cycling on Leith Walk
Over the summer of 2012, we helped to coordinate a “Vision for Leith Walk” consultation process. The top priority idea to emerge from this, after at least 452 people took part – who were mainly people at Leith Festival – was this: “Invest in cycling and walking, including separated cycle lanes.”
This isn’t an explicit call for 20mph zones – but it shows again that local people do strongly support measures that make will make it easier for more people to walk and cycle locally.
All local community councils and three local community groups have already backed 20mph limits on Leith Walk
In January 2013, Greener Leith was one of the organisations that backed a joint consultation submission to the council Leith Walk consultation backing 20mph limits on Leith Walk and calling for them to be implemented as soon as possible.
It was also supported by all the local community councils, national active travel campaign groups, Edinburgh cycle campaign group SPOKES and the Cockburn Association.
Between all these groups, they represent a lot of Leith residents.
But it’s not just organised groups
In the subsequent council led consultation on Leith Walk in 2013, several people explicitly called for 20mph limits. Many more supported measures to improve conditions for walking and cycling.
The Edinburgh People’s survey shows broad public support too
Whichever way you slice these results, they show strong public support for 20mph limits throughout the city – and very little opposition. This survey is based on the views of more than 5000 people, and is designed to represent the views of each neighbourhood +/- 5%.
20mph limits recommended by the experts to cut accidents
Analysis by The Edinburgh “Streets Ahead” Road Safety partnership shows that most serious pedestrian and cycle accidents happen on busy roads and recommends that 20mph limits should be extended.
When 20mph limits are implemented in Edinburgh, they work.
The results of the 20mph pilot in the South side of Edinburgh are in. They show that more people there now feel safe, more people are walking, more people are cycling and that more people support the speed limit reduction once they’d seen the impact of it, than before it was introduced.
So why can’t we push ahead with 20mph limits on Leith Walk?
Given everything we know about the benefits of 20mph speed limits and all this evidence of public support – both locally and city-wide – and given that Leith Walk is in the midst of being re-designed anyway, what possible need is there for yet more consultation on whether a 20mph limit is right for Leith Walk?
Let us know what you think. Should there be a further consultation process on lowering the speed limit to 20mph on Leith Walk? Or do you think the council should just get on and do it?