£20 million package to improve Edinburgh's George Street for cyclists and pedestrians
One of the Capital’s most popular streets is set to receive a major transformation worth £20m to drastically improve its walking, cycling and wheeling provision for city goers.
George Street will benefit from the funding as part of the city’s 2030 vision to make it easier for everyone to move around the centre.
The funding is part of walking and cycling charity, Sustrans Scotland’s, and Transport Scotland’s flagship active travel programme, Places for Everyone, which will see five projects receive funding of nearly £60m.
The improvements on George Street are part of the City of Edinburgh Council’s innovative City Centre Transformation Project, on which the Council completed a major consultation in July. The project aims to transform the city through a range of improvements, prioritising movement on foot, by bike and by public transport, creating welcoming public spaces and improving accessibility for all.
The Places for Everyone support means these improvements can now become a reality. Led by the council, with support from Sustrans Scotland, design plans will now be further developed and finalised before moving to construction.
It is expected that the improvements on George Street will see footways widened, the creation of a new bi-directional segregated cycleway, changes to existing crossings and new areas of green ‘pocket parks’ created with trees and plantings at points along the street which will offer new pedestrian seating.
The route along George Street will connect to Edinburgh’s ongoing Meadows to George Street improvements to allow for direct travel to the south of the city on segregated or shared-use paths. Commuters and leisure cyclists using the National Cycle Network will also benefit from increased motor vehicle-free space though the centre of the capital as they travel on National Routes 1, 75 and 76, improving connections with Leith, Crammond and Joppa.
Edinburgh City Council's Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be receiving this significant package of funding through Places for Everyone. This will be truly pivotal to the delivery of the George Street and New Town public realm design project.
“As one of the early projects to be delivered as part of the City Centre Transformation project, this ambitious scheme will reinvigorate one of the city’s most historic thoroughfares, prioritising active travel and creating liveable, thriving and people-friendly public spaces for generations to come.”
As part of the project,the will also receive support for the concept design of walking, cycling and wheeling improvements in Leith.
Other projects in the city will benefit from a separate pot of funding for smaller projects or projects at an earlier stage of design. These include concept design work and feasibility studies for new projects, includes the Lothian Road Boulevard proposed as part of the City Centre Transformation, a new walking and cycling link between Leith Street and Jeffery Street and improvements to making walking, cycling and wheeling safer on Fountainbridge and the surrounding streets.
The Edinburgh project is part of a £60 million spending plan announced by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson today to improve active travel infrastructure in four areas.
The five projects are being funded through walking and cycling charity Sustran Scotland's flagship active travel programme, Places For Everyone, funded by Transport Scotland.
Mr Matheson announced the five-year investment in Perth at the launch of a new National Transport Strategy which has been opened for public consultation.
The draft 20-year strategy details how the transport system will deliver on a variety of issues, including climate action, equality, the economy, and health and wellbeing.
It also aims to increase accountability by proposing a citizens' panels and a new delivery board.
Mr Matheson said: "The National Transport Strategy sets a clear direction for a future where we have a sustainable, inclusive and accessible transport system that helps deliver a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland.
"We know cycling, walking, use of public transport and shared transport options all need to be more affordable, accessible and attractive if we are to make this vision a reality.
"The strategy is being launched alongside the allocation of almost £60 million for five new active travel projects, underlining the added benefits that sustainable transport can bring.
"I would encourage everyone with an interest to consider the new strategy and to join the conversation.
"The consultation is available online and we will also be coming out to communities across rural, island and urban locations during the next 12 weeks where it would be great to hear as many views as possible."
Sustrans Scotland said the projects will help "connect communities and create liveable towns and cities."
Grace Martin, Sustrans Scotland director said: "We are delighted to announce the projects that will be supported by Sustrans Places For Everyone programme, funded by Transport Scotland."Five large scale projects that will make a real difference to the residents of Perth, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Arbroath."
She added: "We're excited by the new National Transport Strategy designed to make sure transport helps Scotland to meet its priorities for prosperity, reducing inequality, tackling climate change and healthier people."