Environmental campaigners have welcomed the launch of a Private Member’s Bill tabled by Mark Ruskell MSP today which would change the default speed limit in urban areas from 30mph to 20mph.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution Campaigner Emilia Hanna said:

“20mph zones make our streets safer and fairer for everyone using them, and are a vital part of the solution to air pollution.

“The faster people drive, the greater the risk of accidents, and the more off-putting it is for people to walk and cycle. Cars dominate our streets far too much already. There needs to be a much more level playing field between pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users and drivers. Slowing traffic is a key way to achieve this.

“Everyone 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 is just the way to help achieve friendlier, safer, and cleaner neighbourhoods.

“There is also evidence that cars driving faster in built up areas produce more air pollution as they have to frequently speed up and slow down as hazards appear.”

“We hope this Bill will gain support from across the Parliament as we try to cut air pollution and further boost the numbers of people walking and cycling.”


Notes to editors

  1. Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell introduced his “Safer Streets” private member’s bill in the Scottish Parliament today. http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/109191.aspx
  2. 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 information, read 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
  3. Transport and Environmental Analysis Group, Centre for Transport Studies Imperial College London “An evaluation of the estimated impacts on vehicle emissions of a 20mph speed restriction in central London”, (April 2013) https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/business/environmental-health/environmental-protection/air-quality/Documents/speed-restriction-air-quality-report-2013-for-web.pdf
  4. Friends of the Earth Scotland’s response to the 20mph Bill consultation: https://foe.scot/resource/friends-earth-scotland-response-proposed-restricted-roads-20mph-limit-scotland-bill/
  5. 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.