‘How would you improve Edinburgh?’ goes viral

Christmas shoppers, Princes Street. Picture; Ian Georgeson
Christmas shoppers, Princes Street. Picture; Ian Georgeson
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WE all know Edinburgh is a fantastic place to live – but is there room for improvement?

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George Street and Princes Street Gardens

George Street and Princes Street Gardens

TThat is the question which has set tongues wagging online after a post asking people how they would improve the Capital went viral. The post on the popular social news website Reddit sparked a huge global

discussion about the city, its strengths and its faults.

Suggestions ranged from the heartfelt to the bizarre, with the affordable housing crisis, potholes, bins and traffic strife all high on the agenda. One poster with tongue firmly in cheek even had an interesting proposal for our extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat.

There were also plenty of interesting ideas for making Princes Street more welcoming for pedestrians, including calls for dedicated lanes for slow and fast walkers and for those who use their mobile phones while they are walking.

One commenter, identifying themselves as “new_seeds”, called for the roads to be kept better repaired and urged the immediate cancellation of work on the new £1 billion St James Quarter. He also posed the question: “How many burger restaurants does one city need?”

Another, Dumont777, clearly saw the funny side to the debate, writing: “Make Arthur’s Seat a proper volcano again! It was a terrible idea to let it go extinct in the first place.”

One poster called for “Better management of waste collection, especially in the city centre where bins are often full to overflowing, especially in the height of tourist season”.

Rubbish collection was the target of many commenters, with magictravelblog posting: “I grew up in Australia but visit Edinburgh every few years.

“I’m always surprised at how bad the litter and bin situation is. Both in public spaces and around people’s homes (in parts).”

They added: “It’s such a bizarre thing to get wrong because it is so easy and comparatively cheap to just go look at places that are doing it well and then copy ideas from them.

“This isn’t a problem that requires a bunch of original thinking. It’s a solved problem.”

Recycling was also a heavily criticised area of the Capital with several commenters calling for more recycling bins in Leith Walk and Newington.

Meanwhile Reddit user

Scikar discussed the danger of roads for both car users and

cyclists.

They wrote: “Edinburgh is the worst of all worlds as far as traffic goes.

“There is some cycling investment, but it mostly involves painted cycle lanes in parts of the city where the roads are wide and uncongested.

“At key areas where the danger to cyclists is greatest, such as the junction of Princes St and Lothian Road (which you can’t really avoid if you have to cross the city centre for your journey), cyclists are expected to share space with almost all of the bus routes, plus taxis and trams.

“It’s a shame because the buses have actually always been pretty good in comparison to other parts of the country.

If the trams had gone well they could have reduced car journeys and made it easier to plan for cyclists. Instead the trams have reduced the space available in the busiest part of the city, at massive cost which is now affecting the bus service, and for no benefit because nobody takes the tram instead of their car anyway.”

Conversation even covered the possibility of creating an underground rail system to combat the transport issue in the city.

Squeezycakes17 highlighted housing charges, writing: “Owners of empty residential rental properties should be charged double...nay...TRIPLE! the normal amount of council tax if they leave their property empty for more than three months.

“It would bring more homes into active supply and act as a brake on rent levels.”

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said Edinburgh was “among the most beautiful cities in the world” and deserved its international reputation.

But he added: “That said, there is always room for

improvement.

“Edinburgh is a small city, but that is changing. As the population expands and

visitor numbers increase, we need to take new approaches, grow infrastructure and develop innovative partnerships that will ensure Edinburgh remains one of the best places in the world to live, work, study, invest and visit.

“Maintaining an open and engaged discussion with residents and businesses about what they would like to change and improve in their city is a vital.

“This particular Reddit post is actually perfectly timed, as seeking locals’ views about what they want for Edinburgh’s future is the exact objective of the current 2050 Edinburgh City Vision consultation that’s under way.

“There is a genuine

opportunity for people to shape the Edinburgh that will emerge over the next 30 years and I’d encourage everyone to get involved and make their opinion really count.”

Joanna Mowat, Conservative councillor for the city centre, said it was always good to see people exchanging ideas.

She said: “We have a beautiful city but what I would like to see is the basics done better, which is waste collection and street services.

“I’d like to improve the way traffic flows around the city, especially round the city centre. My priority is making the city centre easier to navigate, especially on foot.”

Cllr Mowat said she wasn’t surprised to see the topics most commonly raised and said the post was a useful resource to tap into how people felt.

She added: “As a councillor we can never have too much information from what people on the street think, especially getting it from somewhere like Reddit.

“It’s really important for us to see, especially when it comes in a new channel, because it’s captured new voices that may not always respond to the surveys that we do to see if we are getting it right.”