20 mph Bill defeat in Scotland

Jim Densham's picture

20 mph Bill defeat in Scotland

Mark Ruskell MSP’s Private Members Bill to make Scotland’s residential streets safer was defeated yesterday. Twenty-six MSPs voted for the Bill whilst 83 voted against, and four abstained. Jim Densham, Campaigns and Policy Manager Scotland, gives Cycling UK's reaction.

The Restricted Roads (20mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill was designed to convert the national speed limit in residential areas from 30mph to 20mph across the whole of Scotland and do away with the postcode lottery of 20mph limits being set by some local authorities and not others.

The defeat is disappointing as the Parliamentary Committee who analysed the Bill had sifted through a great deal of evidence and 66% of those responding to the consultation wanted to see a 20mph limit set.

Ahead of the Stage 1 debate this week, Cycling UK in Scotland helped people to send more than 5,000 emails to their MSPs and with partners organised an event outside Parliament aiming to show the level of support for this Bill amongst the public.

What the defeat means is that the Bill won’t be debated any further in Parliament or become law.

However, there is hope for the future of road safety in Scotland and our efforts have not been in vain. Whilst many MSPs who spoke in the debate found ways to find fault on the grounds of compliance and effective implementation of the Bill, they all agreed that its objective to make streets safer is a right one. Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson agreed that "we support implementing 20mph limits in the right environment, because they have the potential to encourage more active travel and increase people’s feeling of safety."

We have had warm words for far too long now; it is time for this to get done.

Clare Adamson, MSP

Mr Matheson did offer a ray of hope by stating that Government is working with partners "to identify more straightforward, efficient and effective procedures for local authorities, in order to encourage wider use of 20mph speed limits’ and ‘a much more strategic approach to introduction of 20mph zones in urban areas." However, Clare Adamson an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament spoke passionately in the debate, saying that "We have had warm words for far too long now; it is time for this to get done".

She also explained that providing safer streets is a "social justice issue" as children from deprived backgrounds are more likely to be injured on our roads. It’s time to heed her call that we need to make our streets in all communities safer - especially for the most vulnerable, such as children, older people and the disabled.

Addressing the crowd of supporters outside Parliament ahead of the vote, Mark Ruskell said that if the Bill is defeated in Parliament it is "only the beginning". His last words in summing up the debate yesterday are a reminder of why we will continue the fight with him and the thousands of others like you who want to see safer streets:

"Every child and every other person living on every street in Scotland deserves their freedom and their right to play, walk and cycle and to live without fear. Every country and city across Europe that values those rights and freedoms is setting a safer speed limit—a 20 mph speed limit. This is Scotland’s moment to put our values first, to put lives first and to vote for safer streets for everyone."

Thank you for your support and for emailing your MSPs.


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