Should Edinburgh follow the lead of major cities around the world and turn over more of the city centre to pedestrians and cyclists?
The debate has been raging in the Capital for years. One side paints a compelling picture of pleasant car-free streets and, critically, air free of toxic exhaust fumes. On the other sides there are dire warnings of traffic chaos as cars and buses are forced into ever increasing detours and bottlenecks. As a result, despite years of talking, relatively little has changed. Take George Street for example where motorists and pedestrians seem stuck in a game of hokey-cokey as one system replaces another.
Two things seem clear. Firstly, the status quo can’t hold. Something has to be done about dangerous pollution levels - and the city region’s mushrooming population makes that a real challenge. Secondly, no answer will please everyone. Judging by today’s Clean Air Day announcement, the approach of the city’s new transport leader Lesley Macinnes seems to be two-fold - be bold and test out potential changes in short, sharp bursts before committing to any radical action. Who knows, it’s an approach that might just get the city out of this particular ‘traffic jam’.