Councillors set to decide if 20mph zones are here to stay

Councillors are set to meet on Thursday, December 16, to decide whether the 20mph speed limits throughout Borders towns, introduced as a trial last October, will be with us permanently.

By Kevin Janiak
Friday, 10th December 2021, 1:13 pm
The reduced speed limit scheme was rolled out across the Borders last October. Photo: Fraser Bremner
The reduced speed limit scheme was rolled out across the Borders last October. Photo: Fraser Bremner

The reduced speed limit was initially introduced to 97 settlements across the region as part of the Spaces for People programme, run in conjunction with Transport Scotland and Sustrans to encourage more active travel, including walking and cycling, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Edinburgh’s Napier University carried out an evaluation of how drivers were sticking to the new speed limit, and found speeds had reduced in almost all settlements, by an average of around 3mph, however it had reduced in some instances by 6mph.

Councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for infrastructure, Travel and Transport, said the reduction in speeds was “really encouraging”

He added: “The introduction of a 20mph speed limit across our towns and villages was a bold step but we felt it was important to give it a try and see what benefits it would bring.

“I would like to thank everyone that contributed to the public consultation, providing really valuable local insight and opinions. The responses were varied but it was clear that many people noted the value of a 20mph limit especially in residential areas and near schools.”

As well as valuable feedback from 8,000 members of the public, the council sought the views of community councils to the trial and have worked with Police Scotland and Transport Scotland on recommendations.

Councillors will now discuss a report at next Thursday’s full meeting.

Taking into account feedback and data, it is being recommended that 20mph will be the default limit across towns and villages. However, some settlements would have 30mph or 40mph buffer zones in place where suitable, such as in areas with no homes near the road or long stretches where it is felt driving at 20mph is difficult to justify and particularly challenging.

There is a financial reason for making the reduced speed permanent. Transport Scotland is set to make sure all roads in built-up areas are at 20mph by 2025. If the council takes down all that signage, it would have to pay to put them back up then, at a price of around £420,000, with no guarantee of a further grant.