City has a right good look at 'naked' streets

"NAKED" streets may be introduced in the Capital in an attempt to increase road safety and improve the appearance of the city's roads.

A delegation from the council has visited Kensington and Chelsea, which has "naked" streets - streets which have been virtually stripped of markings.

The move has led to a fall in the number of accidents because drivers have to drive much more slowly and carefully when there are no road markings, backing psychological traffic calming theories pioneered in Holland.

Naked roads would also fit in with council plans to reduce street clutter, which includes a hotly-debated row between cyclists and heritage groups over the future of coloured cycle paths.

In September, the council released an Edinburgh Standards for Streets report which set out its desire to have uncluttered roads which would match the standard set by buildings in the city.

And since then officers have visited the London borough to see the scheme for themselves.

Trevor Davies, the city's planning leader, said: "In Kensington and Chelsea accidents of all kinds have gone down.

"We've got to seriously consider that as well. I'm not saying we should go through the city and remove all road markings.

"But we would be wrong to close our eyes to a scheme which has had such interesting results elsewhere."

The council is looking at whether to make cycle paths the same colour as roads as part of its plans. Councillor Davies said: "There's a debate between people who like having coloured cycle paths along roads for safety reasons and people who don't like them for visual reasons.

"Both have a valid point of view and the council will have to make a decision within the next couple of months."

Ian Maxwell, of the cycling pressure group Spokes, said: "We are concerned about the future of coloured cycle paths, both on safety grounds and because of what it says about the council's policy of encouraging cycling in the city.

"The evidence we have, both from Edinburgh and elsewhere, is when cycle paths are clearly marked and coloured they are more likely to be seen by motorists and used by cyclists.

"While we understand the council is seeking to clear and declutter the streets, the issue of road safety is equally important and we want to look for a way of achieving both aims."

He said less garish colours than the reds and greens currently used for cycle lanes could work as a compromise.

Meanwhile, the Edinburgh World Heritage group said the colour of cycle paths is not at the top of its agenda for improving the look of the city centre.

A spokesman said: "We strongly support the reduction in street clutter in the city centre, as an essential way of maintaining its historic character. However, it would be wrong to single out the coloured tarmac used in cycle paths as a particular issue."

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