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Wed February 24 2021

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Edinburgh looks at post-pandemic ‘Spaces for People’

25 Jan Edinburgh City Council is considering keeping some of the changes made to routes for walking, cycling and wheeling during the pandemic.

The latest review of Edinburgh’s Spaces for People programme proposes a citywide consultation and assessment criteria for retaining some of the schemes once Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The city has been rolling out measures to create safe routes for walking, cycling and wheeling while physically distancing. On 28th January, the Transport & Environment Committee will discuss recommendations to consider retaining some of the interventions, many of which align with a strategic aim of the council to protect vulnerable road users while encouraging active travel.

Assessment criteria have been developed to help ascertain whether current projects, or elements of them, should be continued, initially on an experimental basis. If agreed by committee, a citywide consultation would be carried out alongside the assessment, seeking the public’s views on which interventions they would like to see retained beyond the pandemic.

The Spaces for People Update report also puts forward several, more complex projects and the outcomes of a regular review of existing measures for approval. Two schemes have been recommended for amendments under the review, one of which is the closure of Braid Road. It is proposed to reopen the street one-way southbound to help reduce public transport times and limit the impact of intrusive traffic on local streets, in response to feedback from residents and Lothian Buses.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, the city’s transport and environment convener, said: “We’re continuing apace with our ambitious programme of Spaces for People measures designed to give people space to physically distance and to provide safe, protected routes for making journeys by foot, bike or wheelchair.

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“We’ve had a great deal of positive feedback from people benefiting from these changes and we know from our own monitoring that many of them are having a positive impact on surrounding areas. That’s why we’re beginning to think about the potential for retaining some of the schemes implemented as part of Spaces for People beyond the end of the pandemic, though we know this is some way off.

“Of course, any longer-term project would involve a great deal of engagement and consultation with communities – we want to bring the people of Edinburgh along with us. But by focusing on an ‘experimental’ approach we would be able to continually monitor and evaluate projects, responding to residents' needs to best serve the public.”

Councillor Karen Doran, transport and environment vice convener, said: “This latest update illustrates the breadth of work that’s gone into designing, reviewing and implementing these schemes. It’s with thanks to the Spaces for People team that we’ve been able to get so many interventions on the ground over recent months.

“Of course, we recognise that there have been concerns about some of the measures from community members, and it’s understandable with changes like these. We’ve made every effort to respond where possible, and continue to tweak and revise designs, as this review demonstrates.”

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