South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has welcomed the news that 20 mph zones could be introduced in streets throughout Dumfries town centre but has called for the scheme to be rolled out even further.
Councillors are due to discuss the plan, which would be enforced initially for 18 months, at Wednesday’s Nithdale Area Committee. The proposals are part of a Covid recovery scheme designed to make it safer and easier for people to cycle and walk during the pandemic. It is being funded through the Spaces for People programme from transport charity Sustrans.
Colin Smyth said: “I have been a long-standing supporter of the ‘20’s plenty’ campaign and when a member’s bill came before the Scottish Parliament recently that would have made 20 mph the new default position rather than 30 mph, I gave it my full backing.
“I was very disappointed that the Scottish Government didn’t back that bill and it was defeated. As it is, it’s been left to local councils to decide, so I welcome any move by Dumfries and Galloway Council to expand 20 mph zones.
“However, I would like them to go even further than just Dumfries town centre. Many of our schools have 20 mph zones, but this should be expanded to cover the whole neighbourhood near the school. Why have 20 mph next to a school but not next to the play park around the corner?
“Scottish Borders Council recently agreed to introduce a blanket 20 mph in their existing 30 mph zones – so I hope Dumfries and Galloway will look carefully at their experience in the coming months and if it’s successful, as I think it will be, then they should follow suit.
“There would still be exemptions, such as the key main arterial routes heading into a town remaining at 30 mph, but all those streets off the arterial routes, such as next to housing, would be reduced to 20 mph making them safer and improving our environment.
“There are a whole host of benefits of 20 mph zones. Ultimately, they save lives. If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 20mph they have a 97% chance of survival, but just 10mph faster means the survival chance drops to 92%, all for the sake of someone arriving somewhere slightly earlier.”