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Edinburgh prepares to speed up anti-car initiative

Princes Street, trams and big wheel
Changes to Princes Street are include in the plan (pic: Terry Murden)

Edinburgh City Council intends to accelerate its plan to remove traffic congestion and prioritise pedestrians in a move that will mean significant changes for the city’s businesses.

It will mean the removal of through-traffic from the North and South Bridges corridor and the closure of Cowgate and Canongate in the Old Town.

Our Future Streets includes an appraisal of all main traffic corridors in the city for future investment, and the A8 Glasgow Road has been identified as a priority.

The proposals will be put to councillors on Thursday and, if approved, a package of measures will be developed, including improvements to junctions, bus priority, safer measures for walking, wheeling and cycling, and town centre improvements for St John’s Road.

The number of buses using Princes Street will also be reduced, while The Mound and St Andrew Square would be added to the list of pedestrianised streets.

The report recommends a strategic approach to improvements through a programme of ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ initiatives.

The bold plan is accompanied by moves for the next tram line, starting with a north-south route from Granton to the BioQuarter.

The council says the transport initiative will contribute to the city’s ambition to reduce car kilometres travelled by 30% by 2030.

It says all future proposals will be informed by an emerging Operations Plan, which will make sure accessibility is at the heart of development work.

“The plan will ensure any servicing and loading changes support businesses and that local access to the city centre by car is maintained,” it insists.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment committee convener, said: “As our city continues to grow, so too do the challenges posed by congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.

“We need to be bold and move faster if we are to support the people who live, work and visit here to move around the capital sustainably and safely, while protecting Edinburgh’s unique heritage.

“We’ve learnt lessons form progressive cities around the world who are adopting strategic approaches to redesigning their streets and networks.

“Reallocating space, where possible, will support transport options designed for everyone, as well as delivering the most attractive and competitive environments for businesses to operate in.”

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