Credit: Cycling UK

Rejection of 20mph speed limits for Scotland is “huge opportunity squandered”

Cycling UK has expressed ‘dismay’ after MSPs voted against Mark Ruskell’s proposals to make 20mph the default speed limit for residential streets in Scotland.

Reacting to the vote at Holyrood, in which 26 MSPs voted for and 83 against, Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said: “If you’re a politician, why wouldn’t you pass legislation which would save lives, which the public tell you they want, and which would make Scotland’s residential streets safer and healthier places?

“That’s the question many people in Scotland will be asking their MSPs in the days to come. It was a huge opportunity squandered to put aside party politics and vote for safer streets, the result of which will be more lives needlessly lost. Given that the Scottish Government acknowledges the safety benefits of 20mph limits, but nevertheless declined to support the bill, it must now set out what it’s going to do instead to replicate the benefits this would have brought throughout Scotland.”

Based on speed reductions observed in previous 20mph schemes, Glasgow Centre for Population Health has estimated that they could save the lives of up to five people a year and lead to 755 fewer casualties, saving just under £40 million per year.

Over the past week, people have used a Cycling UK action to send over 5,000 emails to MSPs, urging them to support the bill. The charity was one of 25 organisations in public health, child advocacy, active travel, environment and poverty campaigning to call on the first minister to support the bill. It was also co-organiser of a demonstration outside Holyrood on Tuesday.

Sustrans Scotland also expressed ‘disappointment’ at the Scottish Parliament’s rejection of the bill.

A statement on its website said: “We had worked alongside many third sector bodies and charities to present evidence of the benefits of 20mph in making our streets safer, and our towns and cities better for people. This remains Sustrans’ position and will continue to advocate for 20mph as one of the best ways to improve places for people walking and cycling.

“We welcome the contributions made by many MSPs, from the SNP, from Scottish Labour and from the Scottish Greens in support of the bill. It is clear that road safety is not just a health issue, but also a social justice issue, and commend the MSPs who highlighted this. We are also heartened by the broad support for 20mph in principle, even amongst many who do not support the 20mph (restricted roads) bill. We respect the vote of the parliament and will reflect on the vote against. We are also committed to working with any interested local authorities looking to roll out 20mph.”


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