George Street parking bays transformeed into pop-up park for Clean Air Day

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IT SENT drivers into a spin even before they event began.

But on Saturday, members of the public mounted a 24-hour takeover of 20 city centre parking bays with a series of pop-up parks around George Street.

Jon Savage Photography'07762 580971'www.jonsavagephotography.com''16 TH  JUNE 2018''JUGGLING  WORKSHOP SUSANNA CLARK, BENJI BROWN AND ALICE BRAWLEY''Twenty car parking spaces on George Street, Edinburgh were turned into a Pop Up Park to showcase the need for a redesign of city centres so that walking, cycling, and public transport are given more priority.  Activities included a yoga class, singing workshop, juggling, hula hooping alongside arts and crafts and a kids area.''PEOPLE IN PHOTO: Cat Johnson, Edinburgh and Ahmed, Glasgow

Jon Savage Photography'07762 580971'www.jonsavagephotography.com''16 TH JUNE 2018''JUGGLING WORKSHOP SUSANNA CLARK, BENJI BROWN AND ALICE BRAWLEY''Twenty car parking spaces on George Street, Edinburgh were turned into a Pop Up Park to showcase the need for a redesign of city centres so that walking, cycling, and public transport are given more priority. Activities included a yoga class, singing workshop, juggling, hula hooping alongside arts and crafts and a kids area.''PEOPLE IN PHOTO: Cat Johnson, Edinburgh and Ahmed, Glasgow

It was a bizarre sight, controversial perhaps.

But it rammed home the message of just how very diffirent Edinburgh’s heartlands could be if it prioritised people over vehicles.

Instead of queues of emissions chugging buses, cars, vans and lorries, the bays were transformed into green spaces.

Yoga classes, singing workshops, hula hooping and even singing workshops brought a bit of colour and calm to the thoroughfares.

Jon Savage Photography'07762 580971'www.jonsavagephotography.com''16 TH  JUNE 2018''Twenty car parking spaces on George Street, Edinburgh were turned into a Pop Up Park to showcase the need for a redesign of city centres so that walking, cycling, and public transport are given more priority.  Activities included a yoga class, singing workshop, juggling, hula hooping alongside arts and crafts and a kids area.''PEOPLE IN PHOTO: Cat Johnson, Edinburgh and Ahmed, Glasgow

Jon Savage Photography'07762 580971'www.jonsavagephotography.com''16 TH JUNE 2018''Twenty car parking spaces on George Street, Edinburgh were turned into a Pop Up Park to showcase the need for a redesign of city centres so that walking, cycling, and public transport are given more priority. Activities included a yoga class, singing workshop, juggling, hula hooping alongside arts and crafts and a kids area.''PEOPLE IN PHOTO: Cat Johnson, Edinburgh and Ahmed, Glasgow

While the sight of kids playing safely, or people trying their hand at arts and crafts, made a welcome sight for those backing the green initiative.

It was organised ahead of Clean-Air Day on June 21 – which will see events across the country building on the momentum of such pop-up pilot schemes.

And there is a very real reason for them too – Edinburgh City Council was monitoring what – if any – effect the pause of motoring brought to emission levels at the time.

That could inform their own future strategy, not least as it looks ahead to how it will bring in its Low Emission Zone scheme and how it will contribute to the Government’s Climate Change Bill when it is finally published.

Friends of the Earth Scotland, who organised the event, said they hoped it would make people think again about what is at stake – citzen health.

Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, Emilia Hanna said: “Ahead of National Clean Air Day we are taking over parking spaces to reimagine city space and showcase a vision for a future where we have less parking and more space for people.

“Traffic is the key culprit to Scotland’s air pollution crisis.

“Cars take up way too much space in our towns and cities causing pollution, congestion, and can make us feel unsafe to walk or cycle in some areas.

“Politicians, planners and the public need to make a bold and loud challenge to the dominance of the private car in our urban environment.

“As populations grow, there will be an even greater need to prioritise space-efficient modes of transport.

“One full bus can take up to 75 cars off the road and ten bikes can be parked in just one car parking space.

“We are here to say that clean transport needs to be given a fairer chance in our cities.”

She added: “In the days around Clean Air Day this June, street closures in Edinburgh and Glasgow will allow people to experience their cities with less pollution and traffic.

“It is wonderful to see the public coming together to show that if cities were designed for people and not cars, we’d have cleaner air, vibrant streetscapes, thriving local business, and lower carbon emissions. We can showcase how brilliant, healthy and inspiring our city centres could look if they were car-free.”

George Street was chosen specifically as a venue as it lies in Edinburgh’s city centre Pollution Zone, where air quality safety standards are regularly breached.

Campaignerss hope it will prompt a redesign of city centres so that walking, cycling, and public transport are given more priority in urban spaces.

Some, including IAM RoadSmart, criticised the initiative.