Councillors will consider plans that could see walking and cycling prioritised over private car use in Edinburgh city centre, alongside other proposals aimed at reducing air pollution in the city.
The council’s Transport and Environment Committee meets later today (9 August) to discuss a series of proposals set out in the ‘Connecting our city, transforming our places’ strategy, bringing together work on a Low Emission Zone, city centre transformation programme and a city mobility plan.
Councillors are expected to approve an eight-week consultation that will look at a series of proposals bringing together the three strategies, with an aim to create ‘a more active and connected city, a healthier environment, a transformed city centre, and improved neighbourhood streets’.
Ideas being considered include pedestrianised streets, restrictions on through traffic. The city council is also seeking to implement regular vehicle-free days in the city centre and town centres across Edinburgh.
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “This prospectus is a truly ambitious document which is bound to generate some lively debate right across the city about what kind of place we want Edinburgh to be. It’s a powerful opportunity to make some really transformational changes to our city centre and town centres for the benefit of everyone who lives and works in or visits them.
“Frankly, the status quo is just not an option anymore. As a Council we are serious about tackling poor air quality, reducing congestion and making it as easy as possible to get around Edinburgh, especially by walking, cycling and public transport.â€?
Edinburgh is one of four Scottish cities required to implement a Low Emission Zone by 2020, in order to address exceedances of the 40µg/m3 legal limit for nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Firm proposals on the implementation of the Low Emission Zone are expected to be brought forward later in the year, and are likely to be shaped by the outcome of the consultation.
Sustainable transport campaign group Sustrans Scotland has welcomed the proposals under consideration by Edinburgh city council, adding that it hopes to see other Scottish local authorities follow suit with similar ideas.
The organisation’s deputy director Grace Martin said: “It is fantastic to see our capital city developing solutions to make the city a better place for people to live, work and visit. We are particularly pleased to be able to support a vision of more walking and cycling with funding through our infrastructure and behaviour change programmes.
“By making it easier and safer to travel around on foot and bike, improving air quality and creating more attractive and dynamic public spaces, the proposals set out how Edinburgh can grow and prosper.
“We hope this ambition will inspire other towns and cities within Scotland to promote active, sustainable and healthy lifestyles.â€?