Public attitudes to, and perceived impacts of 20mph (32 km/h) speed limits in Edinburgh: An exploratory study using the Speed Limits Perceptions Survey (SLiPS)

Andrew James Williams, Jillian Manners, Glenna Nightingale, Kieran Turner, Paul Kelly, Graham Baker, Claire Cleland, Ruth Hunter, Ruth Jepson

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Between 2016 and 2018 a policy was implemented to increase the proportion of 20mph (32km/h) streets in Edinburgh, UK from approximately 50% to 80%, providing the opportunity to evaluate how behaviour and public perceptions change over time. This is important as negative public responses have been reported to limit the implementation of transport policies and may reduce the effectiveness of the policy. The Speed Limits Perception Survey (SLiPS) was developed to assess changes in public perceptions from baseline to 6 and 12 months post-implementation. We collected 3,485 individual responses to the survey, 64.6% (n =2,253) of which included complete perceptions data. Using exploratory factor analysis, the following perception factors were iden-tified: i) Detraction and resistance, ii) Support, iii) Rule following, iv) Child safety, and v) Walking safety. Following the 20mph implementation at 6–12 months: Support (ii) and Rule following (iii) had increased; Detraction and resistance (i) had decreased; and Child safety (iv) and Walking safety (v) had not changed significantly. These findings indicate that the public in Edinburgh became more positive towards the policy once it was implemented. However, more extensive policy or ongoing communication of the safety benefits of 20mph limits are needed to increase perceptions of safety that might lead to increased walking and cycling. Future research should aim to un-derstand how those implementing speed limit interventions can positively influence public per-ceptions and how public perceptions about speed limits influence behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Early online date04 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The ‘Is 20 plenty for health?’ study is funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research (PHR) grant 15/82/12. This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Policy
  • Transport
  • 20mph(32km/h)
  • Public perceptions
  • Walking
  • Cycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Applied Psychology


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