Video report by Lewis Warner
Five villages in the Scottish Borders have had all 30mph per hour speed limits reduced to twenty from today.
It's part of a trial which is being rolled out across the area in the hope of improving safety and the environment.
More than 90 towns and villages across the Borders will see the change, as part of the ‘Spaces for People’ project which is funded by the Scottish Government.
It's received £1.2m from the government in order to fund the pilot.
Today, the changes were seen in Newcastleton, Stow, Sprouston, Eddleston and Coldingham. The council hopes to have rolled out the change to all of the Scottish Borders before Christmas.
A report, sent to councillors ahead of a full meeting on Thursday August 27, explains the new speed limit is intended to "reduce the risk and severity of injuries as a result of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable road users, and to encourage more active travel and make active travel easier and more appealing by lowering speed limits, especially important considering links between obesity and Covid-19".
The proposals, which councillors are being asked to approve at the meeting, also include plans to reduce speed limits on other roads: “A number of temporary measures are planned, such as temporarily reducing speed limits to 40mph on selected national speed limit roads, reviewing a number of town centres to improve cycling opportunities, temporary closure of certain roads and the most significant measure being the proposal to change all council adopted 30mph roads to 20mph as a trial for a temporary period of up to 18 months.”
The only exception to the new 20mph speed limits will be trunk roads, as Transport Scotland is currently carrying out its own research into lowering the speed limit to 20mph on sections of trunk roads that currently have 30mph speed limits.
The report further anticipates an initial backlash from Borders residents: “There is a risk that there will be a vocal minority who believe that being asked to slow down by 10mph is unacceptable and social media will likely be busy initially, however as schemes bed-in acceptance is expected to be generally forthcoming.
“To mitigate such a response the roll out will be initially with communities that officers have worked extensively with previously who are keen to trial new measures, and those communities who have been proponents of reducing speed limits in their areas, such as Eddleston, Stow, Coldingham, Sprouston and Newcastleton.
“There will likely be an increase in complaints of speeding as the schemes are rolled out, either perceived or real and Police Scotland will likely follow their 2013 policy and they will not carry out enforcement where there is a belief that compliance cannot be reached.
“As the project progresses there will be monitoring and evaluation and where possible and realistic, traffic calming can be introduced as part of the Spaces for People funding or the speed limit revised back to 30mph.”
A report will be brought back to the council 12 months from the commencement of the pilot with suggestions on which schemes, if any, to retain and which to remove.
The remainder of the trial will be used to implement any permanent changes.
Councillor Gordon Edgar, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “Coronavirus has changed the way we live and move around, and as a result we felt this was the perfect time to work with Sustrans Scotland to try out new measures that may shift the balance towards walking and cycling, which we may not otherwise do.
“This trial will aim to help people in the Borders lead healthier lifestyles, and at same time help reduce CO2 emissions.
“The council is planning to work with a Scottish university to ensure an academic evaluation of the Spaces for People programme is carried out, which will show which of these temporary measures were successful, which were not, and which need to be improved.”