Council’s anti-car plan ‘ruinous’ for city say critics
Plans by Edinburgh City Council to create a car-free and people-friendly city centre have been dubbed “joyless” and “ruinous for businesses”.
Following months of consultation final designs will create segregated cycleways, wider pavements and pedestrian-only zones including a spinal route connecting the Meadows in the south side and George Street in the New Town.
The council believes the transformation, which has been planned since 2018, will make the city centre a safer and more vibrant place for residents and businesses and that it “respects and enriches the World Heritage Site”.
The latest illustrations show George IV Bridge populated with pedestrians, but an absence of private cars. Under the “Places for Everyone” programme “walking, wheeling and cycling” will get priority.
A bus gate is being introduced on Market Street to reduce through-traffic in the area, while footways along the route have been widened further and a new safe cycle crossing over Princes Street tram tracks has been added.
The council is building other cycle routes, including a link from Corstorphine through Roseburn Terrace to Haymarket which has also prompted anger from local businesses.
Lesley Macinnes, convener of the council’s transport and environment committee, said: “We’ve worked hard over recent years to develop proposals which balance the needs of all those who use the street while prioritising safe and accessible travel by foot, wheel or bike.”
Speaking about the Meadowbank to George Street scheme, she said: “These plans provide a snapshot of how the route will look and operate in the near future, as part of our broader ambitions for the city.”
But residents appear less impressed and believe the council’s plan will ruin businesses. There was also criticism of the bridge illustration that fails to show the “reality” of overflowing bins, graffiti and unsightly street signs.
One posted on a website: “How will all these shops, restaurants plus business premises on George IV end up getting deliveries?”
Bryan Stark said: “Edinburgh City Council has been anti-motorist for 30 years. There’s something wrong with the “photo”, perhaps the lack of clutter – bins, signs, roadworks?”
Another respondent said: “The council should be focusing on lifting the centre of this once amazing city back to being an impressive street and stop this anti-car nonsense.”
Moraig McDiarmid, also commenting on the illustration, posted: “Where are the potholes, street-side refuse and recycling bins, disabled parking spaces and delivery trucks? Edinburgh Council has been ruining Edinburgh city centre for years. It seems that’s to continue.”