Politicians like Alex Cole-Hamilton should stop pretending to support active travel - Janis Ross-Williamson

We were disappointed, but not surprised to read Alex Cole-Hamilton, Edinburgh Western MSP’s article about the Spaces for People initiative.

Pavements have been widened on Morningside Road as part of the Spaces for People programme
Pavements have been widened on Morningside Road as part of the Spaces for People programme

Whilst stating he is an ‘active travel enthusiast’ he has done nothing but complain and criticise measures, even those that had to be implemented swiftly to mitigate transmission of Covid-19 at the height of the pandemic.

The Liberal Democrats, despite their words, have demonstrated their failure in financial commitment of spend on active travel, and indeed are living in a bygone era where they believe that cycling proficiency tests and shower facilities in workplaces are the answer to promoting active travel

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We know we have seen a huge surge in people walking and cycling. In times of great adversity we see the greatest change. That is exactly the momentum these measures will harness and enhance. We need to be mindful that these measures are not just for those that are already comfortable with walking, wheeling and cycling often, but those who are finding the new spaces safer and contributing to feeling healthier, physically and mentally, those that will change their habits because the infrastructure makes it easier to do.

We know we have a climate emergency and a health emergency both of which could be greatly mitigated by continual promotion and enhancement of active travel measures.

To continually play politics and criticise these measures is leaning against the spin and causing much unnecessary delay to create safer and healthier communities. We want our politicians to be bold to take the necessary action to promote change to make our streets safer and our air cleaner. We know emergency services and disability groups are consulted in the design of these initiatives. They are the experts in their field (who actually know their topography) and the local area and will advise where any problems exist.

In identifying the proposed Low Traffic Neighbourhood in East Craigs and Craigmount as unnecessary, Alex Cole Hamilton has demonstrated his own blind spot to the streets in the area that are busy & rat runs and indeed any acknowledgement of the huge development of West Edinburgh that will without doubt impact the area. It is disingenuous to believe that there are no busy traffic streets in an area that is bound by four arterial routes and traffic that is being encouraged by Satnavs and GPS Apps to reroute into residential streets detrimentally impacting the lives of residents. Some of these are also school streets. We want our young people actively travelling to and from school to be supported to do so safely rather than compete with busy and ever increasing traffic, we expect our local MSP to support that too.

Spaces for People schemes have been implemented on a temporary basis. There is no doubt there is an opportunity for some to be modified or removed. In time we hope that they will prove to be a positive benefit to the whole community: residents, children & young people and local businesses.

We need our politicians to act not in their own interests, but boldly in facilitating change.

Janis Ross-Williamson is co-chair of Low traffic Corstorphine