Polling released today, carried out on behalf of the Scottish Greens, has revealed that speed limits of 20mph is growing in popularity with the public, from 65% support in 2017 to 72% supportive. A Private Members Bill which would change the default speed limit in urban areas from 30mph to 20mph is currently being scrutinised in the Scottish Parliament.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner Gavin Thomson said,

“Fewer people will die on our roads if the speed limit is reduced. Reducing speed limits for residential roads means safer streets, cleaner air and reduced emissions from traffic. The Bill being scrutinised would be an important step towards helping ensure that Scotland’s children breathe clean air.

“Children growing up in our town and cities should be able to feel safe to walk, cycle, and play in their neighbourhoods, and slowing the traffic to 20mph can help achieve friendlier, safer, and cleaner neighbourhoods.

“The evidence is clear about the difference 20mph limits can make. When lower speeds are introduced, there are fewer accidents and more walking and cycling. It is no surprise this idea is really popular with the public; we all want safe streets. The Scottish Government should listen to the evidence, and the people.

“Air pollution in Scotland remains a public health crisis, and has been linked to cancer, heart attacks, strokes and around 2500 early deaths every year. Levels of air pollution remain dangerously high in all of our major cities.”


Notes to Editors

[1] This polling was undertaken by the Scottish Greens. More information can be found here: https://greens.scot/news/poll-reveals-increased-majority-in-favour-of-20mph

The polling data is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YcWBo41xEI2kggLmyokuddEepRVSsD-z/view

[2] For information on how 20mph speed limits contribute to cleaner air: http://www.20splenty.org/emission_reductions

[3] The World Health Organization has previously called for for 30km/h (20mph) limits as best practice where motorised traffic mixes with pedestrians and cyclists: WHO – Managing Speed (May 2017) http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road_traffic/managing-speed/en/

[4] Scotland’s streets are breaching air quality legal limits. https://foe.scot/press-release/scotlands-most-polluted-streets-2018/

[5] Health impacts of air pollution:
– Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that 2500 people die early each year from air pollution in Scotland alone: https://foe.scot/press-release/new-research-means-2500-deaths-a-year-in-scotland-are-from-air-pollution/

Air pollution, at levels seen on Scottish streets, has been linked with:
– Respiratory illness including asthma and COPD
– Heart attacks and strokes
– Low birthweight and delayed development in babies whose mothers have been exposed
– Poor lung development in children
– Dementia
– Children, the elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions, and sick are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
– for more, see the Royal College of Physicians’ 2016 report, “Every Breath we Take: The lifelong impact of air pollution”: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution

[6] Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.