Go Slow in the West


Last month I wrote about Edinburgh’s newly passed proposals which will impose 20 miles per hour speed limits to 80% of the Edinburgh’s streets. Despite the substantial public backlash down the M8, Glasgow City Council looks poised to follow suit.

Earlier this month Glaswegian councillors announced they had given final approval to a decade-long city centre transport strategy. First introduced in November 2013, the strategy includes measures aimed at improving air quality, traffic management and cycling access in the city.

It also includes plans to conduct a study into the feasibility of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in the city.

Dismal Air Quality

It will come as no surprise to those who have walked the length of Hope Street or Dumbarton Road that Glasgow’s air quality is amongst the worst in Scotland. The city’s current transport strategy funnels the majority of traffic into Hope Street, Renfield Street and Union Street, which creates corridors of thick pollution that spill into neighbouring roads.

A report published last year showed Hope Street had the joint-third highest concentration of air pollutants and the highest concentration of toxic nitrogen dioxide in Scotland.

It is clear that action must be taken.

Creeping Limits

In January Glasgow City Council recently reaffirmed its commitment to slowing traffic in the city. While the creeping network 20mph zones stopped short of Edinburgh’s decision to limit all commercial areas, it is a good indicator of the direction the council is taking.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said:

“The council has a commitment to make all residential roads mandatory 20mph zones.

“At the moment we have 54 20mph zones now covered by a mandatory 20mph speed limit. To conform with current regulations, these zones must have traffic calming measures such as speed cushions on the road. The zones therefore become self enforcing and require little or no enforcement from police.

“We are in the process of implementing a further 11 zones in the following areas: Anniesland West, Anniesland East, Barrowfield, Hillhead, Kelvindale, Knightswood, Mansewood,Robroyston, North Kelvin, Swinton and West Drumoyne.

“The aim is to ensure drivers reduce their speeds to 20mph or less in identified residential areas, making it safe for all road users particularly those who are more vulnerable such as older pedestrians and children.”

This news coincided with Edinburgh’s announcement of blanket limits and went largely unreported in the press. However, the newer city centre transport strategy has reignited the debate over the city’s speed limits, particularly with concern to pollution.

Public Ambivalence

After a period spent wrangling with the bureaucracy of local government, cycling group GoBike! published their petition urging Glasgow City Council to introduce 20 miles per hour speed limits to the city.

At the time of writing, the petition has amassed a total of 94 signatories. 

Although the petition has a little over a month to run, it appears Glasgow has voted in favour of the status quo.

Considering the vocal opposition Edinburgh’s councillors wrought upon themselves, it will be interesting to see whether Glasgow’s councillors will push ahead with these proposals.

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