With more than three decades of clear evidence, there is no excuse for any city to continue dragging its feet on implementing a safe, humane speed limit for the most dangerous objects on the road.
By Ryan McGreal
Published May 23, 2014
this article has been updated
The City of Edinburgh, Scotland has adopted a 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit across all residential areas. Around 2,000 residential streets have already been slowed through various traffic calming measures, but the lower speed limit will now also be enforced by the police.
[Councillor Lesley] Hinds said today: "From our research and consultation with residents, we know that there's widespread support in Edinburgh for a 20mph limit in residential streets, shopping areas and the city centre, and we're currently in the process of drawing up further, detailed consultations.
"Lower speeds in residential areas and shopping streets are not just good for safety and environmental reasons.
"Slower traffic makes streets more attractive to residents, pedestrians, cyclists and children, improves the environment for business and enhances quality of life."
The kinetic energy of a moving object is proportionate to the square of its speed. That means if you double the speed of an automobile, its kinetic energy doesn't double, it quadruples.
According to a 1997 British Department of Transport report titled Killing Speed and Saving Lives, a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle has a 5 percent chance of dying if the vehicle is moving at 32 km/h. At 48 km/h (30 mph) the risk of death jumps to 45 percent, and at 64 km/h (40 mph) the risk of death jumps to a staggering 85 percent.
Edinburgh joins the city of Bristol, England, which officially began implementing a 20 mph speed limit across several large areas of the city earlier this year.
Just this week, Paris, France announced that nearly every city street will adopt a 30 km/h speed limit - and some areas will even have a 20 km/h limit.
These cities undertook studies, conducted pilot projects and are now moving ahead with big, ambitious plans to apply the results of their studies to improve safety and quality of life for everyone.
Meanwhile, in Hamilton, Council would only approve a 30 km/h speed limit in a single neighbourhood - the North End, excluding James and Burlington streets - if it was done as a five-year pilot project with a moratorium on considering speed reductions anywhere else until the end of the pilot.
The first 30 km/h speed limit pilot project was undertaken in the German town of Buxtehude more than 30 years ago, in 1983. Since then, the movement has spread steadily as more and more cities and towns have committed to making their streets safer and healthier for all road users, particularly the most vulnerable.
Today, after more than three decades of clear evidence, there is no excuse for any city to continue dragging its feet on implementing a safe, humane speed limit for the most dangerous objects on the road.
with files from Nicholas Kevlahan
Update: this article incorrectly stated that 64 km/h equals 50 mph. It's actually 40 mph. RTH regrets the error. You can jump to the changed paragraph.
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