‘Safer streets’: Bill proposed to reduce urban speed limit from 30 to 20mph

Green MSP calls for nation-wide extension of reduced urban speed limit

THE CONSULTATION on reducing the speed of urban vehicles to 20 miles per hour has officially been launched.

Proposed by Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell, the “Safer Streets” member’s bill seeks a default nation-wide speed limit that would reduce pollution and create an extra incentive to walk or cycle.

The 20 mph plan has already been rolled out across Edinburgh, with the council also prioritising increased investments in walking and cycling infrastructure. Concerns have grown in recent years as urban centres have repeatedly breached toxic pollution levels, blamed on gridlocked city streets. 

The proposed bill has won support from health, environmental, and active travel organisations. A poll, published in The Sunday Herald, found a majority in favour of a reduced speed limit. 

Mark Ruskell MSP said: “30 mph limits date back a century and the process of creating 20 mph zones is too slow and too costly. By bringing forward legislation I want to create safer streets so we reduce the risk for pedestrians and cyclists, especially children and the elderly. By cutting speeds in the streets where we live, shop and go to schools or day centres we can reduce deaths and injuries and boost public health with cleaner air.

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“A wide range of interests from transport and health experts to environmental campaigners back the idea, as do the majority of Scots polled. I'd encourage anyone who wants safer streets in their community to respond to my consultation online and I look forward to discussing the aims of the Bill with various community groups around Scotland in the coming months.”

Organisations to have pledged support so far include 20's Plenty For Us, Friends of the Earth Scotland, British Lung Foundation, Living Streets Scotland, British Heart Foundation, Brake, and Sustrans.

Irene Johnstone, Head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, added: “We want to protect Scotland’s lungs from dirty air. There are around one million people here currently living with a lung disease. We know that air pollution can make it harder for them to breathe, and can even put them in hospital. Not only that, it poses a real danger to children’s growing lungs.

“We need to explore all policy solutions to tackle this public health crisis. Traffic emissions are the major cause of pollution in our towns and cities. A 20mph speed limit could be a step in the right direction, by encouraging more people to cycle and walk, but to see long-term change we also need to see more action from the Scottish Government to restrict polluting vehicles from our towns.”

The consultation is available to view online.

Picture courtesy of Mikey

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