Demands for speed limit reductions amid frustration over SIC’s ‘endless strategising’

Community leaders have demanded speed limit reduction amid frustrations over the “endless debate” on “active travel” that has been going for years.

ZetTrans heard an update on the SIC’s “active travel strategy” at its meeting today (Thursday)  when members discussed concerns about its slow progress so far.

Shetland Central member Davie Sandison said he was frustrated by the time spent developing the strategy – which is aimed to encourage people to travel through physical activity – and the difficulties in implementing it.

“We’ve been at this for years and it’s slow progress,” he said.

“I think we really need to find out how to energise things and make sure that actual projects can be delivered as opposed to endless talk about what we’d like to do.

“This is a plea to the rest of the SIC and all our partners to work out how to deliver and not just endlessly strategise.

“We’ve been three years at least on this and we are going to be a couple more doing place audits before we really move things forward.

“I don’t want to see us stuck there for another couple of years.

“I think we need to identify some quick wins and I think a lot of them could be around safer walking and traffic management.”

Robbie McGregor, who was chairing the meeting, also made a renewed plea for speed limits, particularly around Quarff and Cunningsburgh, as well as provision for disabled people.

“I regularly circumvent Quarff and I return to my demands for a speed limit in Quarff to make active travel safe,” he said.

Mr McGregor said he understood it would be financially impossible to make footpaths on all of Shetland’s narrow roads, but suggested a few selective “passing places” or “refuge sites” to allow pedestrians to get off the road, might help.

“Sorry to ramble on members,” he said.

“But I feel extremely strongly on these matters and can only repeat that I will return to them at every possible opportunity.”

Transport policy and projects officer Robina Barton said disabled access would be “absolutely” central to the work and Inclusion Shetland had been sought for its input.

Ms Barton also said that speed limits were also being considered, highlighting trialled reductions already proposed for Lerwick and Tresta.

The SIC has received artificial intelligence cameras through a “spaces for people” project, which can identify different types of road users on a given route before implementing speed reduction trials.

The trial has been delayed, however, as the SIC has been unable to find anyone to operate the cameras as they were already busy with the Viking Energy project.

Ms Barton noted that nationally there was a move towards implementing 20mph limits in all built up areas.

Mr McGregor welcomed the update.

While he stressed he was “not suggesting for one second” that 20mph speed limits be introduced, Mr McGregor again pointed out that drivers can currently drive through Quarff at 60mph “when bairns are getting off the school bus”.

“I’m going to be boring and I’m going to be keeping on about this at every possible opportunity,” he said.


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