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Twenty’s plenty – but speed limits aren’t enough to stop accidents

The second phase of Edinburgh’s 20 mph speed limit scheme is now live in the city and will hopefully have a positive impact in reducing the number of accidents on the capital’s roads and streets. The new phase covers from Granton to Portobello and Duddingston to Morningside.

The success, or lack thereof, of the scheme in Edinburgh will no doubt impact the chances of seeing similar schemes rolled out in other major cities and towns.

Whilst any move to improve road safety should be welcomed, reducing speed limits will not, by itself, lead to the prevention of reducing accidents. Other factors including the shocking state of our road infrastructure, the lack of cycle lane provision and on-going issues with accidents on the city-centre tram tracks will continue to cause issues.

Reviewing speed limits in certain areas should be part of a coherent strategy that includes a plan to upgrade and repair roads, which pose a grave danger to not only motorists but cyclists and pedestrians too. Sadly, the Scottish Government seem to be focused solely on speed limits and nothing else.

There also still remains a large question mark in regards to enforcement of the new limit. Only 13 tickets were issued during the first phase of the roll-out across the city, suggest either a very adherent population or, more likely, a lack of enforcement. A revised limit is great if it is shown to make our roads safer, but if there’s nothing to suggest people are being penalised for speeding then there will be those who exceed the limit.

Any plans to lower speed limits must also factor in driver behaviour issues that arise from the frustration of this limit. The strain on the poor infrastructure will only grow, particularly at peak times, with people desperate to get to and from places as quickly as possible.

Accidents will always happen, but to limit them as much as possible we need sensible speed limits alongside pothole-free roads with infrastructure that allows pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to travel efficiently and safely.