Rejection of 20mph speed limits for Scotland is “huge opportunity squandered”

Rejection of 20mph speed limits for Scotland is “huge opportunity squandered”

Cycling UK has expressed dismay after MSPs fail to take opportunity to make the streets where people live safer and healthier.
  • Charity says legislation would have made residential streets safer and healthier
  • Estimates suggest five lives could be saved and 750 casualties prevented every year
  • Strong public backing for measure, including 66% of respondents to public consultation


Cycling UK has expressed dismay after MSPs voted against Mark Ruskell’s proposals to make 20mph the default speed limit for residential streets in Scotland.

Reacting to today’s vote at Holyrood, in which 26 MSPs voted for and 83 against, Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns said:

“If you’re a politician, why wouldn’t you pass legislation which would save lives, which the public tell you they want, and which would make Scotland’s residential streets safer and healthier places?

“That’s the question many people in Scotland will be asking their MSPs in the days to come. Today was a huge opportunity squandered to put aside party politics and vote for safer streets, the result of which will be more lives needlessly lost.

“Given that the Scottish Government acknowledges the safety benefits of 20mph limits, but nevertheless declined to support the Bill, it must now set out what it’s going to do instead to replicate the benefits this would have brought throughout Scotland.”

Based on speed reductions observed in previous 20 mph schemes, Glasgow Centre for Population Health estimates that they could save the lives of up to five people a year and lead to 755 fewer casualties, saving just under £40 million per year.

There is strong public support for the measure, with 66% of respondents to the public consultation supporting it.

Over the past week, people have used a Cycling UK action to send over 5,000 emails to MSPs, urging them to support the Bill.

Cycling UK was one of 25 organisations in public health, child advocacy, active travel, environment and poverty campaigning to call on the First Minister to support the Bill.

The charity was also co-organiser of a demonstration outside Holyrood on Tuesday, in which 60 empty chairs were placed to mark the estimated number of lives that would have been saved had this measure been put in place when the Scottish Parliament first sat in 1999.

Contact information 

For more information contact Sam Waller, Communications Manager for Scotland, on 07775 595998, or the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email

Notes to editors 

About Cycling UK

Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.

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