South Bridge pavement to be extended over Edinburgh Festival congestion fears

TRANSPORT bosses will extend a narrow pavement out into one of the busiest traffic corridors in the Capital to ease fears that someone could be pushed in front of a bus during the festival period.

Friday, 26th July 2019, 6:12 pm
Busy narrow pavement on South Bridge, Pic: Neil Hanna Photography

Some roads are set to close to traffic from Sunday as part of the city council’s strategy to maintain public safety in the Old Town during August. Cockburn Street and Victoria Street will close to traffic and parking will be halted from 10.30am until 6.30pm every day until September 1.

Candlemaker Row will only be accessible to the number 2 bus – while Cowgate will close from 7pm until 5am every day. The High Street will be fully closed to vehicles between South Gray’s Close and St Mary’s Street – along with the top of Blair Street.

In November last year, council officers raised fears over a “growing tendency for pedestrians to spill onto roadways” and “increasing the potential for conflict with vehicles and accidents”. It led to the council’s director of place, Paul Lawrence stating he is “kept awake by the potential of people being pushed into busy bus lanes”.

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A city centre councillor said she is “extremely nervous” about plans to extend the pavement on South Bridge, next to the Tron Kirk, out into the road – proposals she will not see until they are put into place on Sunday. The council said some bins will also be removed on South Bridge to give pedestrians more space – reducing the likelihood of people stepping into the road.

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Conservative Cllr Joanna Mowat said: “I don’t actually understand how that pavement will work, at the moment.

“It has been flagged as an issue for a number of years – I imagine it will be done with bollards and cones to extend the pavement into the road.”

Clr Mowat added: “I have long-called for improved management of the city centre, especially to manage the number of visitors. I’m fairly sure it will cause some inconvenience to some residents living here.

“Where I have a concern is some of the parking that’s coming off and people being expected to move cars every day and whether than becomes a problem. We have to be really careful when making changes to buses that people rely on or we could risk creating isolation for some people.”

Local businesses in the Old Town will have certain period for deliveries to take place, before closures come into force

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “These summertime streets temporary changes will reduce pressure on our pavements in the busiest areas making it both easier and more comfortable for local residents to carry on with their daily routines, whilst creating a more relaxed, welcoming atmosphere at a time where the city is at its busiest.”