A BID to make 20mph speed limits the norm on roads in residential urban areas across Scotland has been backed by two SNP local government chiefs.

The leader of the Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken, and the leader of Edinburgh City Council, Adam McVey, have both come out in favour of reducing the default speed limit from 30mph to 20mph. They say this would help them introduce traffic-calming and create a culture of “pedestrian priority”.

Eighty per cent of responses to a public consultation have also supported a 20mph member’s bill being put forward by the Scottish Green MSP, Mark Ruskell. They included 200 organisations, such as local authorities, community councils, parent groups and health charities.

The consultation on Ruskell’s bill, which is being backed by the Sunday Herald, has now closed. According to the Scottish Greens, 2,200 individual and groups responded, with eight out of every ten in favour of default 20mph limits.

Ruskell said he would now work with the Scottish Parliament's bills unit to progress his proposal, and seek support from across the political spectrum. His aim was “to reduce deaths and injuries and improve air quality”.

He was heartened by the backing for his bill to make local streets safer. “People are at risk of being killed or injured because of the inappropriate, 100-year-old, 30mph speed limit in our busiest streets,” he argued.

“Many communities are being choked with poor air quality. The Scottish Government has the power to reduce speed limits but it has so far chosen not to, despite the clear evidence from health experts about the benefits of 20mph.”

Glasgow City Council has implemented over 200km of 20mph zones in residential areas, with a further 155km planned. “We want to change the relationship between pedestrians, cyclists and motorised vehicles on our city streets and roads,” said leader Aitken.

“A national default position of 20mph zones for residential areas would make the extension of traffic calming measures, particularly around schools and very much with the elderly and vulnerable in mind, both easier and more cost efficient.”

Edinburgh City Council is rolling out plans to make 80 percent of the capital’s streets subject to a 20mph speed limit. This was “helping to change the relationship between road users and make our whole urban environment more pedestrian and cycle friendly,” said leader McVey.

Katharine Brough, the travel plan manager for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde argued that a 20mph limit would be a “positive measure” for air quality. “20mph limits save lives and make safer streets, encouraging people to walk and cycle,” she said.

Ruskell’s bill has also been supported by the campaign group, 20’s Plenty for Us. They pointed out that more than 80 per cent of the 129,837 casualties on built-up roads across the UK in 2016 were in 30mph zones.

According to the group, 588 were killed and a further 12,849 seriously injured on 30mph roads in the UK last year. Depending upon age, the chances of surviving a 20mph crash are 7-10 times greater than surviving a 30mph crash, it claimed.

The founder of 20’s Plenty for US, Rod King, pointed out that 30mph limits were being replaced by 20mph limits around the world. “The 30mph limit is no longer fit for purpose,” he said.

“It is unjust, unjustifiable and needs to be consigned to history. A routinely enforced 20mph limit should be the new urban norm with higher speeds only allowed on those roads that protect pedestrians and cyclists.”


“In the town where we live, a two year old girl was killed, after being struck by a car. She was walking on a pavement with her siblings. If there were a 20mph limit this wouldn't have happened. Do not let another innocent child be a victim - something needs to be done quickly.” (Anonymous)

“A pupil from my school was knocked down and killed last year on a road with a speed limit of 30mph. I wonder if a 20mph speed limit could have given a very different outcome to this tragic accident.” (Anonymous)

“I'm the parent of two children who were struck by a vehicle travelling fast in a residential area while they were walking to school with their mother. I think the views of my children and all other children in traffic decisions are woefully under-represented. If you asked children, they would say that they want a 20 mph limit.” (Anonymous)

“I have been involved in a road safety campaign which had the support of the local council, police, local school, politicians etc but the real stumbling block was that we couldn't change the law which made some of the things we wanted to do impossible.” (Anonymous)

“All of the children who attend the school are vulnerable at drop off and pick up times, on entering or exiting the main school gate. There have been two accidents in recent months where speed was a contributing factor. Luckily, no-one was hurt but in both cases the force of the impact was such that the vehicles were written off.” (Anonymous)

Quotes taken from public consultation