The city of Edinburgh has just reduced the speed limit in all residential areas, shopping districts and streets with a lot of pedestrian and bicycle traffic from 30 MPH to 20 MPH. According to Edinburgh News, the plan "has been welcomed by cycling and motoring pressure groups, amid evidence that cutting speed reduces accident statistics and road fatalities." One city councillor notes:
The reduction in speed limit creates less accidents and less likelihood of people dying on the roads. Of all the issues cyclists say to me, they are most supportive of cutting speed limits because it makes the roads safe and encourages people to cycle.
The UK lobby group 20's Plenty for Us is leading a campaign to lower speed limits across the country, noting:
Health professionals see lower traffic speeds as a foundation for increasing “active travel” leading to healthier communities. The balance of evidence supporting the introduction of 20 mph limits to improve public health is substantial. It's time to give people a real choice in how they travel by removing the fear of fast traffic from community streets.
The results are indeed substantial:
Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20 mph has been found to decrease child pedestrian accidents by up to 70%(Transport Research Laboratory). In Portsmouth the 20mph limit on all residential roads has reduced casualties by 22%.
Meanwhile, back in Toronto, when the Chief medical officer suggested this, Mayor Ford demanded to know why he was meddling in transportation issues, his brother Doug asked "why does this guy still have a job?" and the head of the Public Works committee asked "Doesn’t he have better things to do than interfere in every single department and everybody else’s lives?."