Reduced 20mph speed limits could be made permanent following pandemic

Temporary restrictions introduced during Covid are due to expire in the autumn.

Permanent 20mph policy in East Lothian towns and villages takes next step towards becoming permanent LDRS

Reduced 20mph speed limits in towns and villages across East Lothian could be made permanent when temporary restrictions run out in the autumn.

A report to councillors has revealed proposals to introduce the lower speeds in town centres and larger residential areas received more letters of support than objections when put out to public consultation.

It added work is now under way to introduce permanent Traffic Regulation Orders to replace the 18-month orders introduced during Covid as part of a Spaces for People project.

East Lothian Council’s Labour administration cabinet agreed to put the permanent change out for public consultation in March.

A report by officers has revealed that they received 23 objections to the new speed limits including one from Dunbar Community Council.

However it added that the council also received 33 letters supporting the proposals describing many of them as “passionately in favour”.

The report, lodged in the members library, said the council’s head of infrastructure has “set aside” the objections and gone ahead and approved the new limits.

It said: “The emails of support were often passionately in favour and reported how much safer the trial limits had made the roads feel. They expressed the need for better enforcement and additional traffic calming.

“The objections came from a range of different viewpoints, with some simply stating a blanket rejection of the ideas and others going into detail about the inconvenience to drivers, and asserting that slower speeds will make the roads less safe and increase pollution.

“We do not agree with either of these positions, and point to extensive evidence that slower speeds reduce the severity of collisions, and the number of casualties.”

The new 20mph restrictions are part of a speed limit policy approved by cabinet earlier this year, which also includes the introduction of ‘quiet roads’ in the county with signs urging drivers to go slower on lanes which are being used by pedestrians and cyclists.

The new policy followed a survey of residents last year which the council said saw six in ten people say they believed the lower speed limits have made it safer for children, with more than half keen to keep them in some, if not all places.

However it also found 73% of residents said drivers ignored the speed limits and more than half said drivers took more risks and were frustrated by the slower speeds, with 46% adding that there is no enforcement on the road.

A new hierarchy of speeds in East Lothian’s communities means 40mph limits on roads on the outskirts with only a few buildings lining them, with 30mph roads described as streets where vehicles are given a higher priority than the “place function.”

The permanent 20mph areas will be introduced in residential streets or those with a high pedestrian or cyclist movement such as town centres or around schools when the 18 month temporary orders run out.

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