City centre is an accident waiting to happen - Kevin Buckle
As I have said before there is now more accommodation than ever with all the student houses free in the summer and the extra capacity generated by the new hotels.
Interestingly given the number of hotels that are due to open on Princes Street in the coming years, the council has not made any decision on whether these hotels are needed, just that they are an acceptable use for the empty buildings.
While the council is very focused on walking, wheeling and cycling they regularly don’t think things through or follow through on ideas.
There is no better example of this than outside my shop on Waverley Bridge. While closing the bridge to traffic has caused disruption to that traffic for sure it certainly does provide space for the large numbers of people walking about.
However this space created is now taken up by bands playing regularly and by being very popular they now clog up the very space that was meant to be open.
Even the cycle lane in my experience is most often used for food delivery with bikes whizzing by with their deliveries on their back and not really paying attention to those trying to cross the road.
What was meant to be a nice open space, especially after the bottleneck outside Waverley Market as people come out of the station while others wait for a bus, has instead become a battleground as people try to make their way around the city centre avoiding the crowds watching the bands.
In a further irony those watching the bands are visibly annoyed when people walk in the space in front of the band briefly blocking their view while simply trying to make their way around town.
There is some new signage that has recently appeared on the Princes Street end of the Waverley Bridge that does usefully give directions but it has been clear to me ever since Avalanche’s stint in the Grassmarket that people need far more encouragement to move around the city centre than simply a sign.
This of course is not a problem peculiar to Edinburgh. When I was on my honeymoon in Venice many years ago I was amazed at how crowded St Mark’s Square was and how quickly the crowds dissipated once I was just a few minutes walk away.
It equally amazes me to watch people struggling through the crowds on Princes Street when they could be walking through the Gardens though of course that option is then not available at Christmas when the market takes over and also causes a whole range of issues on Waverley Bridge.
Visitor numbers to Edinburgh appear to have recovered better than most since the pandemic which has to be a good thing but with the Festival about to start and then Christmas and New Year to follow only a few months later now is the time to actually have people out on the streets assessing what is happening and coming up with solutions for the future.
As things stand the city centre is an accident waiting to happen.