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Transforming Edinburgh’s streets and public spaces

Published 12 November 2018 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland has published its response to the City of Edinburgh Council’s consultation ‘Edinburgh: connecting our city, transforming our places‘, which concluded today.

Amongst other things, the consultation asked ‘Do you have any other ideas, big or small, about how Edinburgh can support its economy, connect its communities and transform its streets and public spaces?’. We consulted the Edinburgh-based members of our team (volunteers, staff, and board) and came up with the following suggestions:

Reduce the number and impact of private vehicles:

  • Entirely eliminate through-traffic across the City Centre — apart from emergency vehicles.
  • Substantially reduce the volume, speed and emissions of private car traffic, and significantly reduce on-street parking – in particular in the City Centre.
  • Enforce ‘no parking zones’ around schools.
  • Introduce Private Non-Residential Parking Levy across the city.
  • Introduce levy on high-emitting vehicles in the City Centre as part of the Low Emission Zone.


  • No city centre traffic lights should force those on foot — supposedly the top of the transport hierarchy — to wait more than 30 seconds while private vehicles are instead given priority.
  • Re-design / re-manage streets to give top priority to the convenience and safety of walking, and high-quality urban / green public spaces – including a network of strategic walking routes linking key localities.
  • Pedestrianise the majority of the City Centre, commencing with High Street/Canongate in the Old Town, and George Street in the New Town.
  • Widen existing pavements and invest in pavement maintenance.
  • Introduce easy-to-follow wayfinding system, including easily-recognisable branded signage and maps in key locations (e.g. in all bus shelters and transport hubs).


  • Build city-wide network of segregated cycle lanes, with links to surrounding local authorities’ networks.

Public transport:

  • Make all bus lanes 12 hour, 7 days/week.
  • Stop consenting commercial providers of bus shelters which reduce the remaining width of pavements available for pedestrians.
  • Extend and improve enforcement of bus lanes — in particular those on key arterial routes.
  • Ensure that cross-centre bus services are retained, but explore which services can be moved from Princes Street & George Street.
  • Extend the tram network to key traffic generators such as Leith and the Royal Infirmary, potentially with ‘tram-train’ operation on the South Suburban railway.

Land use planning policies:

  • Genuine prioritisation of active transport in design of crossings and allocation of space.
  • Implement planning policies which encourage greater housing density and sustainable local community facilities (schools, healthcare, libraries etc), geared to access on foot, by bike and by public transport.
  • Halt urban fringe and green belt development.

Climate adaptation policies:

  • City-wide strategy to improve climate adaption and resilience through steps such as greening and permeable surfaces.

Our full response is also available to download.