I decided to join the critical mass protest this evening to keep and improve the Spaces for People measures, put into place during the pandemic. The City Council is considering to remove some of the measures, in particular the ones of the shopping streets such as Morningside, and the one on Lanark Road, a 4 lane urban motorway. The protest was well attended by 150-250 people of all shapes, sizes, ages on a similar range of bikes. Together we rode up Lanark Road on the segregated cycle lane. There is plenty of space for bikes, parked cars and moving motor traffic. So I really don't get why this particular measure is considered to be taken away rather than improved and made permanent. The city has the ambition to be net zero CO2 by 2030. That's in 9 years. Aspiration alone won't get us there. Infrastructure must be put in place to make it easier for people to change mode of transport. Cars must be deprioritised which does mean taking away road and parking space.
We live in a tenement flat and have 4 bikes (currently only 3 as one needs upgrading). Two of which are kept in the flat on the 3rd floor, mine is chained to the railing on the third floor and one bike is kept at the bottom of the stairs. There is space for car parking round the corner but there is no safe bike parking anywhere near.
However, one of the really big arguments in favour of safe bike infrastructure is that kids can use it on their own. 5-19 year olds make up nearly 18% of the population in the UK and most of them are not allowed to drive. Provide safe infrastructure and the kids can travel by themselves to wherever they need or want to get to.
Well, and then there is obviously air pollution (contributing to number one cause of preventable death) and climate change which will radically change our world if we like it or not.
I would like to see the council be brave and do what everybody knows needs to be done: discourage motor traffic, heavily invest in active travel, prioritise people over machines and make the city more livable. Clearly this means a lot of change. Other cities both large and small have managed that. I don't see why this couldn't work in Edinburgh.