This week the council are to be applauded for listening to local residents and publishing detailed proposals that would see the speed limit lowered to 20mph on virtually all the streets of Leith that doesn’t already have a 20mph limit.
Every road in the map above that’s coloured blue could be made safer.
If implemented, the proposals would help to cut road deaths, and cut air pollution, by encouraging more people to walk and cycle.
In fact, it’s probably about the single cheapest public health measure that’s available.
Professor Danny Dorling makes the case exceptionally well in this 2011 video.
We’ve shared it before, a long time ago, but now, given that the council is about to embark on a detailed 20mph consultation in the neighbourhood, it seems like a good time to share it again.
Lest you think, this all seems somewhat academic, and not really relevant to Leith, consider these salient points.
The roads around Leith schools have a poor safety record.
Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people in the UK, and we know that the roads around Leith Primary Schools have some of the worst records on road safety in the whole of Edinburgh and the UK.
The most dangerous roads are the “main shopping streets.”
We already know that it is that is usually the very old who are killed in road accidents in Leith, and that accidents of all kinds tend overwhelmingly to happen on the main roads – not the ones which are already 20mph, as this map shows.
20mph limits work in Edinburgh.
20mph limits do tackle the barriers that put people off walking and cycling. This evaluation of a pilot project in the south of Edinburgh shows that people felt the streets were safer for cycling, and that they were more likely to let their children play in the streets, following the introduction of the 20mph zone.
20mph limits on Leith Walk have virtually no effects on bus services
In days gone by, Lothian Buses were caught out lobbying against 20mph speed limits on bus routes. But after a bit of heroic citizen science which strongly indicated that a 20mph speed limit would make virtually no difference to the time a bus takes to move along Leith Walk, it would appear the firm is now supportive of 20mph limits, provided they’re not enforced using speed bumps.
Something needs to be done about air pollution in Leith.
Air pollution in Edinburgh is linked to 205 deaths each year. People living on key roads in Leith like Great Junction Street, Commercial Street, London Road, Salamander Street, Leith Walk and Easter Road all live with dangerous levels of air pollution. Here’s the stats in this 2013 report.
Community support for 20mph limits is already well established in Leith
Frankly, Leithers have been consulted to death on this already. Whilst, it would be wrong to say there’s a consensus, there’s a pretty clear view that has emerged in favour of 20mph limits on main shopping streets. This local support mirrors strong support city wide for lower limits, and indeed, more and more cities across the UK have implemented similar measures.
Not really so radical?
Given all this, a plan to slow traffic down a little bit, in an area where the majority of households have no access to a car, doesn’t really seem that radical.
That is, unless you’re the Evening News, who seem to think that despite all the evidence to the contrary, Leith Walk is “expected ” to remain at 30mph, and that Leithers will bin these “radical plans.”
Exactly who, other than the Evening News sub editors expects this, remains unclear, from their article.
Now might be a good time to contact your councillor
Whilst formal local consultation processes are still to be announced, if you think 20mph limits on all roads in Leith would be a good idea, it wouldn’t do any harm to make your views known to your local councillor.
We’ll update this blog when we know more about the formal local consultation proposals.