The logic of city road plans and other strange tales - Sue Webber

The controversial ban on turning left from Leith Walk into London Road has been droppedThe controversial ban on turning left from Leith Walk into London Road has been dropped
The controversial ban on turning left from Leith Walk into London Road has been dropped
​When you drive an electric car, it’s irritating to say the least when some selfish driver of a petrol or diesel vehicle parks in a charging bay.

Even in the heart of our democracy it happens, and on Tuesday in the Scottish Parliament car park there was an Audi TT taking up one of the charging places. I don’t know who the driver was but there was karma because it was a 2001 registration, and its owner either didn’t realise the car wasn’t compliant with the new Low Emission Zone or that the car park entrance is just inside the restricted area. A £60 fine will be on its way.

But it just illustrates the effect of what is essentially an arbitrary boundary ringed with anomalies. Of course, the council will hope the driver decides it’s too expensive to drive in at all and takes the bus, but just as likely is the car will be changed and any resulting air quality improvement minimal.

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To give up the car and use public transport is fine if you live close to an efficient bus route, and out in Currie and Balerno, local people would like nothing better than a return of the service they once enjoyed. If everyone is agreed that the best way to encourage bus use is to make the services more efficient, the council has a funny way of going about it.

In an effort to speed up journey times to the city centre, using the 44 route as a test for extended bus lane restrictions is a perfect example of doing anything but what’s proven to work.

Pre-pandemic, Lothian Buses ran a 44 Express with only two stops after the Gillespie Road junction before it went down the West Approach Road to Lothian Road and it was far quicker than the normal service. That’s what locals want, and the 7am-7pm, 7 days-a-week experiment (7-7-7) will only make it more difficult to drive in non-peak times.

Time after time, officials only reluctantly accept common sense should prevail when the blooming obvious stares them in the face, such as the reversal of the plain stupid ban on left-turns into London Road from Elm Row.

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That took years, and I expect the same thing to happen with the wholly impractical plan to ban through traffic from Dalry Road. Now we know why the pointless bollards which made life difficult for cyclists were never removed.

But what is the point of 7-7-7 bus lanes if services can’t get along the few congested routes left open for drivers from West Edinburgh into the city centre? It will turn the West Approach Road into a crawl, even on a Sunday

In the case of the Cowgate, it was hard to work out exactly what is planned, whether it’s a total ban or one-way, but with the intended restrictions on George IV Bridge and the Mound, even taxi access to Waverley Station is going to be much more difficult.

The City Council has employed anti-car activists from the publicly funded anti-car charity Sustrans at great expense, and it looks very like confusion is not so much a product of poor planning but a tactic to make car use as befuddling as possible.

And if that’s a measurement of success, they are world beaters.Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian

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