On Air Now
13 January 2015, 14:14
Plans for the speed limit to be cut to 20mph on the majority of Edinburgh's roads have been approved by city councillors.
The new limit will cover more than 80% of the capital's streets, including the whole of the city centre, when it comes into effect.
The proposals, which were finalised at the end of last year after a public consultation, have now been given the green light by the council's transport and environment committee.
A plan will be put to the committee in March, providing details on how the council will roll out the 20mph network across the city.
Work on the scheme is expected to take place over a maximum of three financial years.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the move but some cautioned that more needs to be done to tackle air pollution and encourage active transport.
The move will see the majority of the city's residential streets and those in shopping areas become 20mph zones.
Edinburgh City Council has said the lower speed limit will "encourage more considerate driving'' and lead to safer streets for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
It is also hoped the reduced limit will make walking and cycling more attractive options for commuters.
A number of the city's roads are already covered by a 20mph limit.
Transport convener Lesley Hinds recently said: ''Edinburgh is taking a very bold step in introducing slower speeds for so much of its roads and we're aware that other cities in Scotland are watching our example keenly.``
Responding to the move, Friends of the Earth Scotland's air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: "We welcome Edinburgh Council's decision to introduce 20mph zones across the city.
"20mph zones will create safer, more attractive and more enjoyable streets for everyone. They will encourage more cycling and walking and help to fight dangerous air pollution.
"One of the biggest barriers to walking and cycling is fear of speeding traffic, so 20mph zones, if accompanied by greater investment in active travel infrastructure, could transform how people move around the city.''
Figures released by the charity at the weekend showed that some streets in Edinburgh are still breaking Scottish and European standards for clean air.
It said 20mph zones can lead to traffic flowing more smoothly, cutting down on the acceleration and braking which causes emissions.
Ms Hanna added: "Traffic fumes in urban areas are the main source of air pollution.
"Breathing in polluted air increases your chances of having a heart attack, a stroke or developing cancer.
"Children, the elderly and those with existing health problems are particularly vulnerable to its impact on their health.
"20mph zones are just one of several measures which the council needs to introduce to tackle air pollution.
"It also must introduce a low emission zone for the city and commit to a greater investment in walking and cycling.''
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "The introduction of 20mph zones throughout Edinburgh is a very welcome measure that will be good for people as well as the planet.
"As well as helping to cut polluting emissions from cars, this initiative could encourage more people to consider cycling and walking in the city.
"Edinburgh Council are to be congratulated for this forward-thinking move and we'd encourage other city councils to follow their lead.''