Scottish Borders Council

Agenda item

Balance between 20mph speed limits and Street Architecture

Consider briefing paper.  (Copy attached.)


3.1       There had been circulated copies of a report by the Service Director, Assets and Infrastructure which provided details to members on the balance between 20mph speed limits and the use of street architecture, and an update on the 20mph experiment across settlements in the Scottish Borders.  Ms Gilhooly, Project/Road User Manager, explained that there was a variety of traffic calming features available for construction.  However, research into the efficacy of these in general was very dated, and in rural settings, was extremely rare.  The most commonly used traffic calming features were:

·           Signing

·           Lining and Surface Treatments

·           Humps and Bumps

·           Variable Message Signs

·           Islands, Chicanes, Build Outs

·           Protected Parking and Realigning

·           Light Controlled Crossings

·           Roundabouts, Gateway Treatments and Transition Buffers

·           Shared Spaces (moratorium at present)


3.2       Each traffic calming feature came with its own advantages and disadvantages and some worked in tandem better with others.  Costs varied depending on the interventions, with some having ongoing maintenance issues and others causing problems on bus routes and emergency access roads, with noise and vibration frequently cited as intolerable by residents.  It was rare for an individual traffic calming feature to be successful in the longer term, and it was generally accepted that a mix and match of features was the most appropriate.  Also worth bearing in mind was that some traffic calming features had a very localised effect, and consideration was needed into possible adverse effects elsewhere and unintended consequences.  The Council’s traffic and road safety team had successfully applied to the Transport Scotland Road Safety Research fund for ‘The Eddleston Study’ into traffic calming features.  This research involved Edinburgh Napier University conducting a worldwide literature review of the effects of traffic calming as well as an analysis of recently introduced local traffic calming features in Eddleston.  An assessment of the strengths of traffic calming measures was detailed in the report.  In the context of Eddleston village, where Dragon’s teeth at the speed limit change were introduced first, followed by Vehicle Activated Signage (VAS), the evidence from this Literature Review was that careful selection of additional traffic calming measures may provide a synergetic effect in bringing down motor vehicle speeds as they enter and proceed through the village.  Further application of traffic calming measures on the approach or at the village gateways, plus the potential for further measures in the village itself, would look to be the approach needed.  There was a range of options which included, for example, installing VAS at or close to each gateway and changes in road surface colour, potentially with the 30mph speed limit painted onto the red surfacing. The potential for speed tables and chicanes may be limited by the proximity of residential properties and geometry but may be worth exploring as they were both reported as achieving relatively high speed reductions.  There was a need to keep traffic moving within the speed limit, with drivers preferring to keep moving rather than stop/start, which could lead to faster speeds at places within the limit.  


3.3       At is meeting on 27 August 2020, Council had agreed to implement a Sustrans/Transport Scotland “Spaces for People” externally funded £1.2M trial of 20mph across all streets in settlements with existing 30mph speed limit in the Scottish Borders.  Ms Gilhooly advised that this involved 97 settlements in total, including 8 trunk road towns and the timetable for the work was detailed in the report.  From December 2020 through to February 2021, an analysis of traffic surveys and determination of possible traffic calming features would be carried out in discussion with Elected Members and Police Scotland.  From June to August 2021, further consultation would be carried out with Elected Members on options to be presented to Council in September 2021.  Depending on the decision of Council at that time, from October 2021 to May 2022, the statutory process would take place to introduce any retained 20mph schemes, and decommission others.  A marketing strategy for the current scheme was ongoing with radio, internet, social media updates and advertising.  The Council website FAQ was updated regularly to reflect questions from the public and all primary aged children had been issued with high viz vests.  An Evaluation group was being set up, consisting of SBC Officers, Edinburgh Napier University academics, Sustrans and Transport Scotland. 


3.4       As expected, there had been a mixed reaction to the widespread introduction of the 20mph schemes.  Some communities warmly welcomed the trial, while others were unhappy over a lack of consultation at the outset.  Some had reservations on the need for all streets to be included, and there had been a number of queries over justification, based on very few injury accidents and questions of over funding, even though the scheme was fully externally funded.  It would appear that some drivers were concerned over the additional drive time, and conversely some pedestrians were happier with the change in driver behaviour.  Some residents were finding noise disturbance reduced by slower moving vehicles.  Early discussions from both local Police Sergeants had not seen a spike in complaints over speeding or driver behaviour, with complaints over non-compliance and poor driving similar to locations when a 30mph was the speed limit in place and police were not surprised with the level of compliance so far.  A questionnaire on the 20mph speed limit had been circulated to Community Councils and 34 responses received to date.  Members commented on the more pragmatic view being taken by some members of the public since the initial opposition; the need to take account of the business community, with potential impact on costs and delays in deliveries; whether arterial routes should be included; and how to engage Community Councils going forward.  The Chairman commented on the “living areas” in Holland whereby street architectural measures such as changes in road surface, bends, footways melding with roadways, produced a cultural change and almost incidental to that a reduction in speed.  Members thanked Ms Gilhooly and her Team for managing to complete the work in all 97 locations.  In response to questions about the funding of such a project when residents were concerned about the general repair of footpaths and potholes, Ms Gilhooly advised that the installation work had been undertake by local companies.



NOTED the update.


Supporting documents:



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