20MPH PLANS RECOMMENDED

Plans to permanently set 20mph speed limits across towns and villages in the Scottish Borders are to go to councillors for approval. The reduced speed limit was initially introduced to over 90 settlements across the area in October last year as part of the Spaces for People programme.

Run in conjunction with Transport Scotland and Sustrans, the project’s aim has been to encourage more active travel including walking and cycling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The trial has been run with input from experts from Edinburgh Napier University, who carried out an independent evaluation from 125 survey sites over 97 settlements. They found vehicle speeds have reduced in almost all settlements, in some instances by 6mph, with an average reduction closer to 3mph.

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 the full meeting of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday 16 December.

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. These tend to be areas with no homes near the road or long stretches where it is felt driving at 20mph is difficult to justify and particularly challenging. These proposed locations are available to view on the Council’s website. Amendments have been made throughout the pilot scheme taking on board feedback, which has included trialling buffer zones in a number of locations.

Councillor Gordon Edgar, Executive Member for Infrastructure, Travel and Transport, said: “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. By working with Edinburgh Napier University’s Transport Research Institute on this project, we were able to get a completely independent evaluation of the trial’s effectiveness. The fact their data shows a reduction in speeds across the Borders is really encouraging news. “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. Councillors will now discuss and vote on this proposal on Thursday and I hope they can support the permanent introduction of 20mph, making our towns and villages safer for all for years to come.”