We would like to make the following comments regarding the current consultation on the Outline Strategy for Holyrood Park. We are focussing on the use of the Park as a traffic route. We acknowledge the huge importance of the Park as a precious resource for Edinburgh residents and visitors.
Our view is that motor vehicles should not be allowed through the Park. The Park would be enhanced by being vehicle-free in every respect including pollution, safety and ambience. Access needs to be retained to the Park periphery to enable people to reach the Park who depend on cars, most obviously Blue Badge holders, and options need to be developed to provide appropriate environmentally-friendly access within the Park.
However, decisions on traffic through the Park need to be taken in the context of wider Edinburgh traffic plans (“Circulation Plan/Future Streets”). Closing the Park to through traffic will have impacts on the surrounding areas. In the short term at least, without further measures being introduced, it would increase motor traffic in heavily populated areas such as St Leonards, Abbeyhill and Meadowbank. It would mean more vehicles passing Preston Street, Holyrood and Abbeyhill Primary School, increasing congestion, pollution and road danger. A traffic-free Park must be part of an Edinburgh-wide traffic plan.
In the immediate future, the Park should be enhanced for people walking and wheeling. Priorities should be to re-introduce zebra crossings (or ‘informal zebras’ without beacons) across the many desire lines, especially in the vicinity of Holyrood Palace and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, where pedestrians struggle to cross the road. Speed reducing measures are also needed to combat the widespread non-observance of speed limits.
Finally, we wish to see an immediate re-opening of the Radical Road. The closure of the whole section is absurdly disproportionate to the risk of injury.
Ten leading disability and environmental Scottish charities (1), brought together by Living Streets’ Edinburgh Group (2), have written to the Scottish Government urging action to be taken to turn Holyrood Park into a safe and attractive space for all.
While the city of Edinburgh gears up to reduce speeds to 20 mph, most of the sprawling park, meant to provide leisure opportunities for residents and visitors alike, remains a 30 mph limit with only one pedestrian crossing. The call follows concerns about the growing number of traffic accidents in the park (3).
The ten co-signing charities are calling for Historic Environment Scotland to review visitor access and safety arrangements in the park more generally at a time when Historic Environment Scotland is consulting on its corporate plan (4).
David Spaven, Convener, Living Streets Edinburgh, said:
“Holyrood Park is a unique green space, close to the heart of Edinburgh, but it’s become far too dominated by the speed and noise of vehicle traffic.
“People who want to enjoy this special park quietly and safely face far too many obstacles – speeding traffic, hardly any safe road crossings, and pedestrians and cyclists forced to use narrow ‘shared space’ paths.
“The time is right for Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government to consider transport priorities for the park, with the needs of people on foot put right at the top of the list.”
“We want Holyrood Park to be a safe place that can be accessed and enjoyed by everybody. At the moment, the high volumes of traffic not only affect the air quality and noise but also people’s perception of how safe the park is.
“This can be very off-putting for many people with sight loss and can result in them not using the park, therefore denying themselves the pleasures of the great outdoors and being fit and healthy.”
John Lauder, National Director, Sustrans Scotland, said:
”While City of Edinburgh Council is rolling out 20mph zones across the city, the iconic Holyrood Park is being left behind. Right now it’s just not living up to its potential as a safe, attractive space for people on foot and bike to enjoy.
“In Scotland we have strong, cross-party support for walking and cycling and a government that has invested record levels in active travel over the past couple of years. Yet, on the door-step of the Parliament, one of Scotland’s most iconic parks is being used a rat-run – to the detriment of its users and those who live in the neighbouring communities.
“We want Holyrood Park to reflect Scotland’s ambition on active travel, by making it a safe attractive space for people making journeys on foot and by bike.”
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief Executive, added his support to the campaign:
“Traditionally urban parks have been viewed as the ‘lungs of the city’ and we fear that given the current situation Edinburgh’s ‘lungs’ are being unnecessarily harmed.
“Holyrood Park could be a wonderful space for people of all ages to engage in an activity, such as walking or cycling, to enhance wellbeing and quality of life.
“Yet, given the current infrastructural prevalence for vehicular traffic this means that many people are put off from venturing into Holyrood Park. We urge the authorities to re-consider this so that Holyrood Park can rightfully be restored as a beneficial place for citizens and visitors alike to enjoy to its full potential.”
RNIB Scotland, Guide Dogs Scotland, Age Scotland, Spokes (Lothian Cycle Campaign), Sustrans Scotland, Paths for All, Living Streets Scotland, Transform Scotland and Ramblers Scotland
Living Streets Edinburgh is a local campaign group of Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. We want to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and making walking the natural choice. We believe that a walking nation means progress for everyone.Our ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking. For more than 85 years we’ve been a beacon for walking. In our early days our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits. Now, our campaigns and local projects deliver real change to overcome barriers to walking and our ground breaking initiatives such as the world’s biggest Walk to School campaign encourage millions of people to walk.