Spaces for People


What changes are happening in the Scottish Borders?

We have secured a total of £1.2m from the Spaces for People programme for a series of ambitious temporary infrastructure trials to encourage safer active travel.

The funding will be used to support a number of 18 month pilot projects.

The programme in the Borders includes:

  • introduction of 20mph areas in over 90 Borders towns and villages
  • a number of trial 40mph areas
  • road closures and one way systems in specific locations

Other road safety interventions such as electronic signs, lining and some temporary traffic calming features will be trialled as the trial proceeds.

What is the Spaces for People programme?

Funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Sustrans Scotland, Spaces for People programme aims to make it easier and safer for people to walk, cycle and wheel for every day journeys as the country moves out of lockdown.

What can this programme fund?

Temporary infrastructure works which encourage active travel.

Are you putting any budget into these works?

Aside from staffing resources to implement the temporary changes, there is no financial commitment from us.

Why have you introduced a permanent 20mph speed limit across all Borders’ towns and villages?

Permanent 20mph speed limits will be introduced across all towns and villages of the Scottish Borders next week on 16 January 2023.

It follows a two-year trial period which saw the reduced speed limit introduced to over 90 settlements across the Borders on a temporary basis as part of the Spaces for People programme aimed at encouraging more active travel throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

The aims of the initial trial were to: 

  • determine if a more tailored regime is required for the implementation of 20mph schemes longer term
  • reduce the risk and severity of injuries as a result of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable road users
  • encourage more active travel
  • reduce CO2 emissions
  • make the Borders a more attractive place to visit
  • alter the driver culture within the Scottish Borders to having 20mph as the default when entering built up areas

When will the permanent 20mph speed limit come into force?

The 20mph speed limit is being made permanent on 16 Janaury 2023. A trial 20mph speed limit has been active across over 90 settlements in the Borders since October 2020. 

How did you gauge the success of the 20mph trial?

We worked with Edinburgh Napier University to ensure an academic evaluation of the Spaces for People programme was carried out. 

The studies showed that there was a significant reduction in speeds across the region, with average speeds across all settlements reducing by 3mph, and in some instances by as much as 6mph.

An interactive online map shows the impact on speeds at survey locations across the region since the introduction of the trial.

How did you decide the trial was going to be made permanent?

A variety of stautory public consultations were carried out to engage with members of the public. During these consultations the Council received over 8,000 individual pieces of feedback which were considered.

These were considered alongside the data and analysis gathered by Edinburgh Napier University in making the final decision.  

Accident data as well as traffic speeds and volumes will also be an integral part of the evaluation process. 

School pupils and parents will also be surveyed to determine if the 20mph has made any difference to their travel to and from school and their social activities in the evenings, weekends and holidays.

Councillors voted to approve a report at a full meeting of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday 16 January 2021.

Will I require to drive at 20mph on every road in the Borders?

No, this speed limit only applies to buil-up areas such as roads in towns and villages.

Hybrid Settlements/Buffer Zones

As the trial progressed Council officers, in consultation with Elected Members, Community Councils and Police Scotland reviewed the default 20mph speed limits and introduced some buffer 30 and 40mph speed limits to create ‘hybrid’ speed limits in some settlements where 20mph was unrealistic, unjustified and generally uncomfortable. 

Overall there are 32 settlements out of 97 with hybrid speed limits of a variation of 20, 30 and 40mph and these speed limits conform with the new Transport Scotland guidance







Blyth Bridge





West Linton











St Boswells





Romanno Bridge









Carlops* - decision on A702 trunk for Transport Scotland to make.

Are Police Scotland involved in Spaces for People programme?

We have discussed the trial with Police Scotland who are aware of the new temporary infrastructure works.

Why are you spending money on this when you should be repairing the roads?

Spaces for People scheme is managed by Sustrans Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government. The funding cannot be used to repair roads, it can only be used to encourage active travel as a result of COVID-19.  

Why are you not building cycle paths with this money?

The money is for temporary measures and cannot be spent on works that require excavations such as those needed for cycle paths.   

Why should drivers be impacted in favour of cyclists and walkers?

We have received regular communications over a number of years from members of the public, community councils and other community groups requesting that we reduce speed limits to encourage more walking and cycling.

Scottish Government funding was made available in 2020 to commence a 20mph trial and with COVID-19 changing the habits of many people, we felt it was the right time to try a 20mph trial.

There are very few accidents in our towns and villages so why is this needed?

We believe the difference between driving at 20mph and 30mph is an additional 60 seconds for each mile covered in built up areas, assuming that a constant speed of 30mph was possible before the 20mph trial. There is also evidence on the Road Wisen website highlighting that a pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling at 30mph has a 20% chance of being killed, while a pedestrian hit at 20mph has a 2.5% chance of being killed

Could the new 20mph limit see more accidents for cyclists who maybe tailgated by traffic?

We would ask all road users to be considerate. The 20mph limit likely to take a bit more time for everyone to get used to and change their driving habits and would ask all drivers to give themselves plenty space when overtaking a cyclist. 

Could the new 20mph limit lead to more pollution?

It is not as straightforward as more time driving equals more pollution. Driving styles, acceleration, braking, vehicle condition, distance travelled and engine temperature all play a part in the levels of pollutants being produced.

There is advice availablle on the AA website around reducing your emissions and saving fuel, which includes driving slower and steadier.

Why did you not introduce this to specific streets rather than the whole of the Borders?

We felt a 20mph trial across the Scottish Borders was worthwhile to try. 

We know some other areas of the UK have introduced a combination of 20, 30 and 40mph speed limits which has let to some complaints from the public who have struggled to remember which speed limit they are in at different times, depending where they are. 

By trialling 20mph across the Borders, we aimed to eliminate any confusion. 

Will a reduced speed limit improve safety?

The World Health Organisation’s Pedestrian Safety, a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners summarises published research on the science of road safety for those on foot. It uses case studies from around the globe. A distinguished peer review group have carefully studied the evidence. The report says:

“One of the most effective ways to improve pedestrian safety is to reduce the speed of vehicles” and in particular, reducing speed limits. Specifically listed as a proven intervention is to “Implement area-wide lower speed limit programmes, for example, 30 km/h” (20mph). Moreover, in February 2020, the UK signed up to an enforced 20mph national speed limit in the ‘Stockholm Declaration’ of global best practice for speeds in built-up areas."

Reducing speeds means that residents, pedestrians and cyclists can live and travel more safely. Over half of all incidents in which people are injured happen on urban roads with a maximum speed limit of 30mph.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)

 “An analysis of vehicle speed in pedestrian fatalities in Great Britain found that 85% of pedestrians killed when struck by cars died in collisions that occurred at impact speeds below 40mph, 45% at less than 30 mph and 5% at speeds below 20 mph.” These statistics are illustrated by the fact that in the distance a 20mph car can stop, a 30mph car will still be doing 24mph.

Do 20mph speed limits actually reduce vehicle speeds and injury accidents?

In short yes, one of the most comprehensive city-level studies was undertaken in Bristol, commissioned by Bristol City Council. The University of the West of England analysed their rollout of 20mph in six stages. The study is called the Bristol Twenty Miles Per Hour Limit Evaluation (BRITE). ii BRITE was included in the Atkins study for the Department for Transportiii of the effectiveness of 20mph speed limits but further evidence of effectiveness from BRTE was published after the Atkins report was issued.

The study found that on average, according to the Automatic Traffic Count (ATC) speed data (with over 36m vehicle observations carried out and analysed), there was a statistically significant 2.7mph decrease in vehicle speeds on roads where the 20mph speed limit was introduced. Annual rates of fatal, serious, and slight injuries following the introduction of the 20mph speed limits were lower than the respective pre-20mph limit rate. Walking and cycling across Bristol increased, both among children travelling to school and adults travelling to work. Finally, the reduction of injuries and road traffic collisions created an estimated cost saving of over £15m per year for the ratepayer.

The Borders is a rural area so can hardly be compared to cities, what data is being collected?

Rural areas like the Borders shares some similarities and some differences with cities and this study is looking to determine what the possible effect of a 20mph scheme may have on the area, what works, what does not work and what may work with more interventions.

How will a lower speed limit promote walking and cycling?

Lower speeds mean that people feel more comfortable to walk and cycle and it is safer for children to walk to school, while older people also feel more able to travel independently and safely. There is a very large body of evidence from across the world that vehicle speeds are the main reason why people do not walk or cycle or do not allow their children to walk or cycle to school.

Isn’t 20mph around schools enough?

No, this doesn’t help children to walk or cycle to school or prevent many casualties (80% of child casualties are on non-school trips). It protects children very close to schools, but that is where they are already safest because there are so many of them (called the critical mass effect). By introducing a default 20mph speed limit, children are safer from the moment they leave their home. In addition, a local area wide 20mph limit will help everyone to get out and about more easily.

As part of this trial there will be a comprehensive analysis of pedestrian, cycle and vehicle accidents within the 20/30mph speed limits and this data will be made available to the public.

Won’t 20mph limits make driving harder?

Driving more slowly requires a change of habits, rather than speed up to get to the next queue of traffic, it encourages a mindset of relaxing, taking one’s time and enjoying the journey. For some this will be quite a change and will require conscious driving decision making in the initial stages. For society as a whole the intended change can be compared to the way anti-drink driving campaigns have made drinking and driving unacceptable, or how wearing seatbelts is now second nature. It will take some time for driving within 20mph limits to become second nature.

What are the benefits of a 20mph speed limit/zone?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)

 “As well as road safety benefits, it is important to highlight the contribution that 20mph limits can have in improving air quality, reducing noise pollution and encouraging more physical activity, such as walking and cycling, by contributing towards a safer environment. The money spent on the schemes can also greatly improve the residential area. For example a recent study compared casualty rates and the effects of vehicles on air pollution in 30mph versus 20mph limits in Wales.

"The modelling study suggests that 20mph limits would substantially reduce road traffic casualties, with the effects on air pollution being roughly neutral. Longer term, if reduced traffic speeds encourage people to switch to active modes of travel, such as cycling and walking and thus improved physical and mental health and wellbeing, there are likely to be greater reductions in air pollution. The study concluded that health and costs savings are likely to be substantial, and the costs of implementing 20mph limits are likely to be far lower than the benefits reduced speeds bring.”

Will having a lower speed limit mean more pollution?

No, for air quality the limited literature is consistent with small improvements in air quality.

Pollution is created when we accelerate and brake, not, as many people think, by running the engine at lower revs. The more we accelerate (so to get to 30mph) and the more that we then have to brake (from 30 to stop), the more pollution is created.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says that reducing stop-go driving will lower emissions of air pollutants from accelerations and decelerations, lowering population exposure to poor air quality. However, the volume and methodological strength of studies means that it is only possible to state that air quality is likely to be improved as a result of 20mph speed limits.

Where else have 20mph speed limits been introduced in the UK?

20mph speed limits are in force in many of the medium and larger cities in Britain and more and more rural authorities are introducing larger scale extended 20mph programmes including:

  • East Lothian
  • West Lothian
  • Midlothian
  • Perth and Kinross
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Bristol
  • Edinburgh
  • Liverpool
  • Oxford
  • Portsmouth
  • Sheffield

Wales is about to embark on a national default 20mph programme.

20mph limits are just for urban dwellers?

Although most 20mph speed limits are located in cities and larger towns, there are also numerous villages and small towns that have 20mph limits and the residents are highly supportive of measures to reduce the speed of traffic through their villages. Welsh examples include Penarth and Sully.

Why were these locations chosen as survey sites as this is not necessarily where vehicle speed is highest?

We are generally most interested in where pedestrians and cyclists are coming and going and this was the primary motivation for the choice of locations. So this may be where we know pedestrians are crossing, where there are bus stops, shops, close to schools, playparks or on occasion where we know there is an issue with traffic. Whilst there may be residents who are more concerned about vehicle speeds close to where they live or where a speed limit changes our main concern is where pedestrians are most likely to come and go.