South Lanarkshire Council have announced plans to reduce speed limits on 98 per cent of local roads – and some residents are showing their support.
Proposals to bring the speed down to 20mph on built-up roads across South Lanarkshire are being welcomed by a group of East Kilbride campaigners.
This week, the council announced that it wishes to place a 20mph speed limit on 4085 of its roads, which equates to 98 per cent of them.
It comes after residents who live on Morrishall Road said they want to bring down the speed limit, according to two recent street audits within the community.
Councillor Kirsten Robb (East Kilbride East) has taken up their calls for action.
She said: “Before and since being elected, I’ve heard loud and clear people’s concerns about speeding on many roads in my ward. People want a safer, more pleasant and peaceful environment for them and their families to live, walk and wheel about.
“Evidence shows that when people experience their street with 20mph limits, they don’t want to switch back to higher speeds. Residents on our community street audits, including children, want reduced speeds and I encourage South Lanarkshire Council to be bold, do the right thing and implement 20mph where people and vehicles mix.
“20mph limits are only part of a wider effort to improve the liveability of our streets and reclaim them for people. If you live in East Kilbride East and have concerns about your street or ideas on how to make them better, please contact me for help.”
A petition is also running for all South Lanarkshire residents to demonstrate their support for reducing the speed limits, and has received 185 signatures so far.
At the council’s road safety forum on Tuesday, November 21, councillors heard an assessment had been undertaken to identify specific roads in the area that would have a reduced speed.
This follows a national strategy that was set up by the Scottish Government to minimise casualty reduction on the nation’s roads.
A traffic consultant was appointed to undertake the assessment on all existing 20mph and 30mph roads within South Lanarkshire and this exercise is due to be completed by the end of this month.
The draft received backlash from some councillors on the forum who expressed a number of concerns on enforcement and policing.
Chair of the road safety forum Davie McLachlan (Hamilton North and East) said: “Some people may be aware in Wales where the 20mph speed limit was introduced right across the country it caused quite a bit of a backlash, it was a talking point for some time and I think it still is and people are quite upset about it.
“Now I recognise 20mph speed limits in certain locations as a good thing, but I’ve got concerns and I’m interested to see how this develops over time and what comes back. But the figures are quite stark, it leaves only two per cent of the roads remaining at 30 mph, with 98 per cent at 20mph.”
Enforcement of the new speed limit was also questioned by councillor Ralph Barker (Clydesdale East).
He said: “This is a Transport Scotland proposal, one of the things the minister always tells constituents is that they give guidance, and to some extent within this council we tend to take the guidance as absolutely statutory, so we do have to remember that it’s the guidance.
“But the whole thing is enforcement, the real advantage only comes with enforcement, there is this view about average speeds, it’s not the average speeds we’re concerned about, it’s the maximum speeds where people just take notice, I don’t think those drivers change their view, if it’s 30mph they’ll do 40mph, if its 20mph they’ll still do 40mph. In 20 mph areas, I’ve been overtaken, they don’t overtake you at 25mph, they go at 40mph to get past you. So I don’t know how we enforce it, without enforcement there are no advantages.”
And councillor Cal Johnston-Dempsey (Bothwell and Uddingston), raised the issue of possible environmental impacts that could come with reducing speed.
He said: “My question now is on how much waiting, and how much idling and wasting petrol, I was hoping to see something discussing that, so I’m wondering if there’s been any work done to assess the environmental impact of reduced road speeds.”
Council officials stated that pollution is high when drivers accelerate, therefore it would have little environmental impact.
Other elected members highlighted the safety aspect of introducing the 20mph speed limits.
Councillor Norman Rae (Cambuslang West), said: “I’m more in favour of these kinds of things, because I’m a pedestrian there’s an element of that. And I think about in my own ward, there’s quite a lot of old built up streets that aren’t suitable for speeds, so in that sense I see this kind of approach as being encouraging to help address some of the problems that people bring to me about these things.
“Under the point of enforcement, in many of these cases people complain about speeding anyway at any of the speed limits, I think if you change this on a large scale, over time people will change their behaviour.”
And councillor Julia Marrs (Clydesdale North), also spoke on the benefits of the new speed limit.
She said: “I wholeheartedly agree with this proposal, and I understand that Police Scotland can’t be everywhere and enforcement will be an issue, and the frank truth is that some people will be a mind regardless of what the rules are, this is on behavioural change, a pillar of road safety and reducing deaths and creating consistency.”
Councillor John Anderson (East Kilbride Central South), added: “I think there’s a point here, it’s a national target in measures for casualty reductions, I think that’s the most important thing we need to keep in mind.
“I think if we are going to be doing it, we need to do it right first time, I think the fact that it is national. And that we need to keep in mind the fact that it is being introduced to reduce fatalities and accidents.”
Although it is national guidance, it will be down to each council to develop their implementation plan and resources available in each individual council is variable.
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