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Scottish minister announces go ahead for plans for urban 20mph limit in 2025

13 December 2023
Fiona Hyslop
Fiona Hyslop


The Scottish Government is o roll out 20mph limits to all “appropriate roads” by 2025 as part of its Road Safety Strategy, Transport Minister for Scotland, Fiona Hyslop MSP announced at the 20’s Plenty conference in Edinburgh last week.

She said that Scotland plans to have the best road safety in the world based upon a Safe Systems approach, and is fully committed to Vision Zero. 20mph limits for urban/village streets were seen as a key component of meeting those aspirations which included a commitment to active travel, said Hyslop.

The event was co-hosted by the City of Edinburgh Council, campaign group 20’s Plenty and Landor LINKS/LTT.

The council’s Transport Convener Scott Arthur said that Edinburgh, as the first Scottish city to adopt a city-wide 20mph scheme, has reduced casualties and was on target to meet the council’s 2030 targets of no road fatalities and a 50% reduction in serious injuries, with junctions and routes to school as a key focus.

Phil Jones, Chair of the Welsh 20mph Task Force, provided lessons from Wales where their national default 20mph limit went live on 17th September. He was keen to clarify that this was “default” rather than a “blanket” and local highway authorities were empowered to make exceptions. He outlined the consultative, evidence gathering and planning process dating from 2019 which first reported back to Senedd (Welsh Assembly) to gain cross-party support in 2020, the road to legislative change in 2022 and implementation in 2023 with the exceptions guidance whereby local authorities could set exceptions based on community buildings, residences and vulnerable road user usage. Because Wales had so few 20mph limits previously the default limit was able to fast track a delivery to all communities in Wales, said Jones. This was done without the need for tens of thousands of 20mph repeater signs and minimised the requirement for TROs.

A European perspective was brought by Jenny Carson, PIN Manager for ETSC. She outlined the commitment across Europe to 30km/h limits. This included Spain which had already set a national 30km/h limit in 2022 and Netherlands, where 30km/h is the “leading principle” when assessing speeds in urban areas and 70% of streets now have a limit of 30km/h.

Cities were also referenced with leading adopters in Bilbao, Paris, Brussels and Helsinki having city-wide 30km/h (including some main roads) as key policies. Most notable was Helsinki which started its 30km/h in 2004 and then extended it in 2019. Amsterdam set 30km/h to 8-0% of its city roads and expected a 20-30% reduction in crashes.

London was featured by Jeremy Leach of 20’s Plenty for Us who showed the adoption of 20mph in London Boroughs over the last 15 years. 20mph was at the heart of Transport for London’s transport, and healthy streets policies, as well as being essential for achieving London’s target of zero fatal and serious injuries by 2041. TfL were also working with the Government to follow Wales and Scotland by allowing it to set a default 20mph speed limit for London.

Enforcement by the Metropolitan Police had been increased recently with upgraded back-office systems and in 2022 nearly a quarter of a million Notices of Intended Prosecution were issued on 20mph streets alone. Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner was quoted as saying “The continued expansion of the 20mph programme on TfL roads is playing a vital role in making the capital’s roads safer for people to walk, cycle and use public transport”.

Finally, Martin Heath of Project Centre talked about the practical delivery issues associated with setting 20mph as a norm. The presentation highlighted how 20mph limits fit within the Safe Systems Approach. One of the key challenges was seen as getting the process of setting the orders correctly in order to mitigate any challenges. The presentation gave a wide checklist of issues across exceptions, enforcement, modal shift expectations, public engagement, and monitoring.

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