John McLellan: Pedestrianising the road to hell

Private cars could be banned from parts of central Edinburgh
Private cars could be banned from parts of central Edinburgh
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It’s hard to fathom this week’s excitement caused by plans to cut private car use in the city centre, given the administration’s intentions were obvious when the Central Edinburgh Transformation project was first outlined in October following an SNP motion passed in June.

The scoping document six months ago couldn’t have been clearer. “As a compact, walkable city, Edinburgh’s public realm does not always provide the best pedestrian experience,“ it said. “Congested historic streets, narrow footways, increased footfall, street clutter, the variable quality of materials and long-wait times at crossings, frustrate safe and convenient movement.”

Since then there have been public consultation sessions and a more formal process is due to start next month with a view to producing an action plan report in spring next year.

No doubt there will be a further consultation once the plan has been published, so 2020 could easily be the earliest a finalised scheme is ready to go.

READ MORE: Cars face ban from parts of Edinburgh’s city centre

The original motion in June was for “a medium-term action plan, to be implemented before the end of this council term”, so there will be just over two years to ring the changes if that goal is to be met.

It should be possible, and there are positives in the early outline, but as the council has found in the past the road to hell and city centre traffic management is usually paved with good intentions.

But given Leith Walk will be up for tram work then, the aim of reducing car use might not be difficult.

READ MORE: Insight: The case for 20mph zones