Edinburgh City Council is considering plans to ban cars from certain parts of the city in a shift towards ‘less private cars and better public transport’, its leader said.
A consultation is due to begin next month on measures designed to protect key routes in and around the capital’s World Heritage Site, as it seeks to combat ‘congested and cluttered’ roads during peak tourism season.
In a scoping report approved but the council’s transport and environment committee, it states ‘the city needs to take action now’ to protect its balance of economic growth and quality of life and health.
It also notes that air quality in central Edinburgh and its gateway approaches fail to meet Scottish Government standards.
‘The scope of the project will involve rethinking transport priorities across the city in order to unlock the potential of streets and to provide a public realm that better meet the needs of residents, pedestrians, cyclists and to provide a more integrated public transport network,’ the report says.
Adam McVey, the leader of Edinburgh council, said there could be ‘quite a lot of change’ following the fundamental shake-up of its transport priorities.
‘I would expect us to look at having less private cars and better public transport. We need to make sure people can still access the city centre, but in a way that maximises the space. We can’t increase the size of the city centre. We’re not aiming to eradicate private cars, that would be ridiculous. [But] everybody has to acknowledge that you cannot drive everywhere all the time.’
The scoping report adds: ‘As a compact, walkable city, Edinburgh’s public realm does not always provide the best pedestrian experience. 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.’
The news comes after Edinburgh completed the fourth and final phase of its 20mph roll-out in March this year.
The 20mph limits have been rolled out to the vast majority of the capital's streets - excluding a strategic network of streets maintained at 30mph and 40mph.