February 2017 saw the roll-out of Phase 2 of Edinburgh’s 20mph speed limits, covering the majority of residential streets in the North, South Central and South East parts of the city. While the main commuter roads are often 30mph or even 40 mph, most residential streets have seen their speed limits cut.
Urban speeding is like drink driving – it’s not the penalties that change behaviour, it’s the changes in our definition of what is acceptable that will change behaviour.
For me, this policy is a winner – it’s (reasonably) cheap, reasonably high impact policy that is already changing driving behaviour. Just a few weeks after the roll-out it’s clear the the policy is actually having significant changes on the ground. Cars are going more slowly, and roads are safer. Cars in Edinburgh are still going much too fast, but driving habits are already changing.
Several weeks after the roll-out I had a Lib-Dem canvasser on my doorstep, and he was strongly against the policy. What he couldn’t do was answer one simple question: Why should commuters have the right to drive through other people’s neighbourhoods at unsafe speeds?