SOME of the ideas in the city’s five-year transport plan are radical.
Cutting speed limits across the Capital, closing streets outside schools at peak times, banning lorries from pollution hot spots and introducing parking charges on Sundays for the first time all sound pretty dramatic.
Most of these proposals are perfectly sensible – as long as they are approached with plenty of common sense – which means taking care to introduce them only in appropriate places.
Research shows that cutting your speed by ten miles an hour – from 40mph to 30mph, or 30mph to 20mph – dramatically reduces injuries caused in any accidents. This has got to be a good thing on most residential streets and at accident blackspots, but it won’t be necessary or helpful everywhere.
As tranport leader Lesley Hinds says, the guiding principle should be following the wishes of local communities.
Similarly, banning traffic from outside the school gates at busy times will be impractical in some neighbourhoods, yet in others it could be a huge boon for parents keen to see their kids cycling or walking to school.
Tackling air pollution is important and banning the worst-offending vehicles from certain areas may well be necessary. The one idea which ought to be knocked on the head straight away is parking charges on a Sunday. They would be widely unpopular, unfairly target church-goers and discourage people from visiting the city centre, with the inevitable knock-on effect on traders. There is no common sense in that at all.
Old enemy returns
All the recent concerns over our native trees have centred on the fungus which threatens to devastate Britain’s 80m ash trees. The fungal infection chalara fraxinea, which has ravaged other European countries and now spread to the UK, kills 90 per cent of the ash trees it affects.
But in Edinburgh our old enemy – Dutch Elm Disease – is back, and has been responsible for infecting more than 1000 trees in the past year. The disease, spread by bark beetles, is a huge worry for the Capital which has a large population of elm trees, many planted in Victorian times.
Our trees, whether in the Meadows, Bruntfield Links or Princes St Gardens, are such an important feature of our city. Edinburgh City Council should be given all the support it needs from central government to ensure we can stem the spread of the infection and protect one our great assets for the future.