Dear Councillor Hinds
Living Streets Edinburgh would like to ask that the Council formally considers the widespread closure of streets during next summer’s festival season. This year, many of our members noted how many city centre pavements were so crowded (especially in the Old Town) that they were not only uncomfortable, but also felt unsafe. In addition, bus timetables became highly unreliable. Narrow pavements were occupied by hundreds of people, while wide roads were occupied by a handful of vehicles. The situation was exacerbated in streets like the Cowgate, where pavements were also frequently blocked by vehicles servicing venues. Unlike Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games (with similar attendances), there are no special provisions such as Park and Ride.
As a result, the way that Edinburgh’s streets are used at this time of year has become completely out of balance. We believe that the festival has grown to such an extent that a wholesale review is required to make much of central Edinburgh car-free during the peak festival season. This will make the Edinburgh festivals more enjoyable and successful, with a positive effect on travel, safety, tourism and the economy.
We therefore ask that a report is brought to appropriate Council Committee(s) to recommend measures which will redress this imbalance and make much of the city centre car-free for 2016. This report should consider the extent of street closures to general traffic (apart from buses) and recommend what exemptions might be made (considering issues such as emergency vehicles, taxis, deliveries and disabled parking).
We hope that you will agree to this request and look forward to your reply.
Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group