Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has called on residents and communities across the region to have their say on introducing 20 mph speed limits across Scotland.
The Scottish Parliament is currently considering legislation, proposed by the Scottish Greens and with backing from the SNP, which would change the default speed limit on most urban and residential streets from 30 mph to 20 mph.
A public consultation is being organised by the Holyrood Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. Individuals and organisations can submit responses until 28 January at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/20mphBill
Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “Whether you’re for or against it, changing the default speed limit in built up areas is likely to have at least some effect on most people across our region.
“Where 20mph limits have been introduced, such as in Edinburgh, they have attracted a great deal of comment as well as suggestions that enforcing the new limits is difficult or unworkable.
“I think it is important that people and local organisations are able to engage directly with the Scottish Parliament and to pass on their views about proposals like this, particularly to ensure that the voice of local people from communities across the Highlands and Islands is heard at Holyrood.”
In a blog supporting Green MSP Mark Ruskell’s Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill, Professor Steve Turner, Officer for Scotland, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, writes: “Slower traffic will encourage children to walk and change their lifestyle to one which counters the obesity epidemic. Parents will not have the confidence to allow their children to play outside if our country’s roads are too dangerous. Reducing the speed limit in built-up areas will help to reduce fatalities on the road and make outdoor activity a more attractive option for children and their families.”
Prof Turner also points out: “More than a quarter of Scottish children are overweight or obese, and this is associated with childhood mental health and orthopaedic problems and putting them on course to develop potentially devastating illnesses which include type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease in early adulthood. Regular physical activity helps to keep children a healthy weight, and contributes to greater wellbeing. The Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill marks a significant step in the right direction towards achieving safer roads for all, and thus, safer spaces for children across Scotland to spend their all-important recreational time outdoors.”
Mr Ruskell’s proposal, to make 20mph the default limit in urban areas, is backed by numerous health campaigners, safety experts and environmental groups. Mr Ruskell said: “Making the safer speed of 20mph the standard limit in built-up areas will save lives and reduce injuries, and Professor Turner’s analysis strengthens the case even further. There’s no magic solution to the obesity epidemic but clearly if we have safer streets where children can cycle and play we make it easier to be active.
“Concern for children’s health is growing as they spend more time indoors and more time looking at phones and tablets, so we must seize every opportunity to make outdoor activity an attractive option. The aim of my bill, recognised by the public and by experts, is to prevent deaths on our streets, reduce the seriousness of accidents and improve air quality to benefit everyone’s health. I look forward to the committee examining the details in the coming months.”
Further information on the Bill is available on: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/110202.aspx