The GoBike Strathclyde Cycle Campaign was created to help improve the cycling environment and encourage people to get on their bikes, be it for transport or fun.

GoBike member Bob Downie has set-up a petition on the Glasgow City Council website calling for the implementation of 20mph speed limits across the city. Residents have until March 17 to sign.

Edinburgh is making 80% of its roads 20mph zones starting later this year and aiming for completion by the end of the financial year 2017/18.

Here Bob explains why he would like to see Glasgow follow suit.

What prompted you to set up the petition?

One of the biggest concerns that GoBike members hear from people who want to cycle but don't at present is that the roads are "too dangerous".

Reductions in risk to all road users by the lowering of city speed limits from 30mph to 20mph are well-documented and GoBike feels that 20mph will greatly encourage less confident and returning cyclists back onto two wheels. It will also hopefully make parents less fearful of allowing their children to cycle to school.

At the moment, Glasgow City Council is generally implementing local 20mph zones which require the installation of costly traffic-calming measures. GoBike has done the sums on the lengths of roads that need to be calmed and the amounts of money that would be required.

The latter is a very big number. We feel that it makes much more sense to go for city-wide 20mph speed limits without extensive traffic calming, similar to the Edinburgh model. This is not to say that we would expect all roads to be 20mph; busy arterial roads would by and large retain existing speed limits.

Why would it make a difference if 20mph speed limits were introduced?

The health and safety benefits from reducing city speeds from 20mph to 30mph are well documented but the main benefits can be summarised as follows: less likelihood of collisions and significant reduction of harm in the event of any accident; quieter and more pleasant roads to live on where cars are not zooming past; reduction in fuel consumption and less pollution of our air.

Of these, my personal view is that it is the safety aspect that comes first. Everything else is a bonus.

Who would it benefit most?

It is not only cyclists who will benefit but all road users. Pedestrians, that is to say all of us, are the group that will benefit the most. At the moment crossing a busy road can be a fraught business. Having a 20mph speed limit will stop us having to sprint across roads on foot and will be particularly beneficial to the less fleet of foot such as the elderly, those with disabilities and children.

Motorists will also benefit, both in terms of reduced fuel consumption, and in the unfortunate event of an accident, they too will suffer less harm.

The main objections that GoBike has heard regarding the introduction of 20mph speed limits are concerns that fuel consumption would be increased and journey times lengthened. You decided to put that to the test?

Yes, indeed. To conduct the test I made five repeat journeys over the same routes at the same week day times. Each pair of journeys was identical except that in the first maximum speed was 20mph and the second 30mph. Journeys ranged from 4.5-9.3 miles in length and included residential roads, busy city areas and arterial roads.

What is it like driving at 20mph?

It's like driving at 30mph with just a few changes in driving style needed. For example, in the 20mph tests I never got beyond fourth gear and into my top gear. I did have to get used to accelerating gently but this soon became fairly automatic.

At 20mph I made some interesting observations. Cars in front that accelerated away were often caught at the next traffic lights or junction. I also found that I spent more time driving and less time stopping and starting which eased stress on both me and the car.

How were your fuel consumption and journey times affected?

The differences in fuel consumption were the most dramatic result. On my five test journeys fuel consumption was improved by 7-16% (12% average) compared to the same journey at 30mph maximum. My colleague Tricia Fort at GoBike also conducted a couple of tests and while her results were not as dramatic as mine - hers were done mainly in the snarled city centre - fuel consumption improved by 4-8%.

So even in the busy city centre, where it's stop-go all the time, consumption is reduced because the driver is not aiming to get to 30mph between each set of traffic lights. As far as our results are concerned, slower speeds results in significantly improved fuel consumption and thus reductions in pollution.

As for journey times, the results were more complicated. Both Tricia and I actually had one journey that took longer at 30mph than 20mph. While we tried to do the comparable tests at the same time each day to even out traffic variations, the vagaries of traffic conditions are one of the main variables on any journey.

Of the rest of my tests, however, I found that travel times at 20mph were only increased by a minimal 25-50 seconds per mile. To put that into context, a typical five mile city journey that was wholly within a 20mph area might only be 2-4 minutes longer.

It is important to remember that most busy arterial roads will retain faster speeds so, in reality, travel times over a typical journey would not be significantly lengthened.

What are your thoughts on the 20mph speed limit proposals for Edinburgh?

I'm delighted for Edinburgh residents that their council has had the vision to vote this through. Once this is fully implemented the nature of Edinburgh's streets will change. It certainly will make the city a more pleasant place to live as well as a more attractive destination for visitors, particularly if they are on foot or cycling.

It is also very encouraging that we hear significant numbers of Edinburgh residents are behind the scheme and that where there is already the introduction of 20mph, nearby residents are keen to have this speed reduction extended to their streets.

What's next in your campaign?

Once the petition is closed we hope to go before the council's Public Petitions Committee to further explain our case, detailing the cost savings and benefits of an Edinburgh-style 20mph scheme.

We hope to persuade the committee that this issue should be further debated by an appropriate council committee. Irrespective of the outcome of the petition GoBike, in concert with virtually all other groups interested in road safety, will remain committed to campaigning for 20mph speed limits, where appropriate, not just in Glasgow, but in all of Scotland's towns and cities.

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