Edinburgh city centre could become “largely traffic free zone”

Saturday August 4th 2018

Edinburgh City Deal

Written by David Bol, Local Democracy Reporter

Edinburgh city centre could become a “largely traffic free zone” under a radical proposal to be put to the public.

One of three options put forward by the city council says “key streets could be pedestrianised” while hubs could be built for buses to drop off passengers to use “less impactful transport”. It is not yet clear whether buses would be able to travel through the city centre.

The document, called ‘Connecting our cities, transforming our places’, explains three approaches to potentially overhauling the future of transport in the Capital.

The report says: “The city centre would become a largely traffic free zone
with controls in place to allow for essential traffic and with pedestrian priority in the city, town, and local centres.

“You would be able to go to, but not through the city centre. A series of hubs
could be developed where buses would drop off and other forms of less impactful transport would take over. Pavements would be significantly widened and public spaces improved. Key streets would be pedestrianised.”

It adds: “There would be strategic walking routes and segregated cycle routes across the city with a citywide wayfinding network to guide pedestrians around the city.

“Public transport could be fully integrated with smart contactless payment for use across all public transport services. New park and ride interchanges could be provided at key points around the city with a series of new bus priority corridors linked to them.”

Another ‘prospectus’ option to be put to the public includes a “business as usual approach” although the Scottish Government is requiring the council to establish a Low Emission Zone. The third option is a “strategic approach” which highlights possible “controls on the levels of general traffic with restrictions on through traffic within certain areas.”

It adds: “Priority would be for people on foot and bicycle on specific streets including George Street and the Royal Mile. Gaps in the existing walking and cycling networks would be completed.”

The report points out that the three options are not mutually exclusive.

Subject to approval of the council’s Transport and Environment Committee, the eight-week public engagement will start in September – with further public consultation on detailed proposals set to be held early in 2019.

Transport Convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “It’s very much about trying to find out how much of a vision people are willing to embrace and what we then need to do to deliver that.

“We are very conscious that we have a city centre residential population in marked contrast to many other cities. We need to take care of their needs and expectations of where they live. It’s also about those who visit and those who come into the city centre.

“Health is a key aspect of this and it’s about air quality, it’s about providing more opportunities to walk and cycle and better use of public transport.”

She added: “We are going forward with consultation with the public on three projects which are being brought together quite unusually to form a single consultation around the Low Emission Zone, the next city mobility plan and the city centre transformation.

“What is really exciting about the prospectus is the vision that it represents. The status quo is not enough for this city. We have to make change and this is about the nature of that change. How much of a vision are we willing to embrace, what do we need to do to put that vision in place?”

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