POLL: Should 20mph speed limits become the norm for built-up areas? 

Roads officials are driving through plans for slower speed limits in built up areas.

The SIC’s roads manager Neil Hutcheson said many 30mph limits will become 20mph by next year.

He said it was about improving safety and changing people’s perceptions so they feel more comfortable walking or cycling.

“The idea is it will make us all healthier and reduces the carbon footprint from driving,” he said.

Do you agree with the reduction in speed limits? Take part in our poll.

Discussing the changes with Lerwick Community Council on Monday, Mr Hutcheson said the first roads to make the move to 20mph would be residential areas around schools.

“This phase is about the getting the idea across that 20mph should be the norm,” he said.

“Once we’ve done that we can move into the areas that will require a lot more consultation and a lot more thought as to how you progress.”

The next phase will focus on other built up areas in the town.

Eventually, Mr Hutcheson said every road in Lerwick other than the A970 and A969 could become 20mph.

Other built up areas in Shetland will follow soon after.

The SIC will monitor vehicle speeds in the areas with reduced limits and may consider traffic calming measures if motorists continue driving too fast.

Mr Hutcheson said it would involve a great deal of consultation.

The Scottish government had initially planned to use legislation to reduce most 30mph limits to 20mph throughout the country.

More recently, however, Mr Hutcheson said the government had asked councils to introduce the changes through traffic regulation orders instead.

Councillors were supportive of the plans, which they felt would improve road safety.

Lerwick North and Bressay member Stephen Leask said some of his constituents would be “absolutely delighted” – particularly along King Harald Street.

LCC member Stewart Hay said the changes were about “safety and changing attitudes”.

“In safety terms, it’s clear to me that the slower we drive the safer it is for the community and for the roads,” he added.

Mr Hay said the SIC had been “clever” to introduce the changes gradually and through consultation, which he felt would help change people’s attitudes.

However, he also feared that the mixture of 20s and 30s around town could lead to confusion and undermine the project.

Ultimately, Mr Hay said the whole town should be 20 “and we would all be the better for it”.

LCC member Averil Simpson was also concerned the varied speed limits would mean drivers were “constantly changing from one to another”.

“I think it would be better if the whole town was 20,” she said.

Chairman Jim Anderson suggested it would be easier to make all roads 20mph and select a few exceptions to remain at 30mph.

Councillor Amanda Hawick asked whether speed bumps would be removed once the changes were introduced.

Mr Hutcheson said most of the speed bumps in town had been requested by residents to improve safety. He said the Esplanade bumps had been introduced after several pedestrians were injured.

Lerwick North and Bressay member Arwed Wenger questioned whether slower speed limits could be introduced in Commercial Street, similar to European countries where 7kmph is the usual limit in heavily pedestrianised areas.

Mr Hutcheson said 20mph limits were the “absolute minimum” currently permitted.

He said there was a “fine balance” between safety and allowing people to “get around efficiently”.

The roads manager noted what happened in Wales where 20mph limits were introduced everywhere.

“If you introduce a speed limit that is unrealistic you get a backlash,” he said.

Shortly after the speed limits are reduced in Lerwick, Mr Hutcheson said there would be consultation with Scalloway Community Council about possible 20mph limits.

Consultation on further roads in rural areas will follow later in the year.

“We are primarily considering residential areas and a number have already been done such as the Moorfield ring road in Brae so that doesn’t leave too many to consider,” Mr Hutcheson added.


Add Your Comment
  • Keith Lindsay

    • June 7th, 2024 18:19

    I don’t see how this improves safety on roads that already have a significantly low incident rate anyway. I actually feel it’ll make things worse. Especially folk that get impatient with bikes and such on the roads. A reality check is definitely required

  • peter smith

    • June 9th, 2024 23:13

    ” The idea is it will make us all healthier and reduces the carbon footprint from driving”
    My experience: driving personally, 30mph in 4th gear or 20mph in 3rd gear, 1200rpm. No change in carbon footprint there. If its tipping of rain/howling gale, it’ll be the car, 20mph or 30mph.

    “improving safety and changing people’s perceptions so they feel more comfortable walking and cycling”
    The speed limit on Sound Brae was dropped by 10mph and I think the Council admitted there was no increase in the number of pedestrians or cyclists. The only thing I notice driving personally and professionally is the amount of braking I now do, putting additional brake dust into the air. (different story once we are all EV’d)

    Improving safety cannot be argued with, and maybe the argument would be better made by simply sticking to that very important point.

  • Dave Wells

    • June 12th, 2024 7:44

    Generally people are very good at slowing down around schools, as the limit reduces to 20 just by them. If it’s 20 everywhere, we all know people will break the limit, and chances are, they will continue to do so past the schools. I think there is a good chance this will have the opposite effect to improving safety.


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