A ONE-way transport system, set be introduced in Edinburgh city centre next year, faces fierce opposition from businesses and residents of the capital.
Traffic on George Street will be restricted to one direction, with half of the road dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians. Princes Street will be mainly used by trams, with buses, taxis and cyclists able to go westbound, and cars restricted.
The change, which will be put in place before the tram launch, is one of the biggest shake-ups of city centre traffic in years.
Edinburgh City Council carried out a survey of about 2,000 people on the Building a Vision for the City Centre project.
Findings released yesterday have now shown strong opposition to the new model, with the local authority admitting many respondents were “sceptical about the benefits”.
Despite this, council leaders said the measures will be adopted for a 12-month trial, subject to a final vote by councillors on Tuesday.
On George Street, all general traffic and buses will run eastbound on the north side of the thoroughfare. The south side would then become a two-way cycling lane with space for pedestrians. On Princes Street, all taxis and bikes will run in a westbound direction. Trams will run in both directions.
Cycling groups had lobbied for the local authority to install a cycle lane on Princes Street, but council chiefs insisted it will go on George Street instead.
Council leaders said the one- way scheme will create a “living city centre”, while accommodating the new tram system and supporting businesses.
Essential Edinburgh, however, said the majority of the 600 businesses it represents were opposed to the scheme, and city leaders had “ignored consensus concerns expressed by respondents”.
Denzil Skinner, chairman of the business group, said: “As things stand, we believe that these proposals will jeopardise the city centre’s most successful street – George Street – and should be put on hold until a bigger, better and holistic approach for future of the city centre can be found.”
Joanna Mowat, a city centre councillor and Conservative transport spokeswoman, said it would be “foolish” to introduce the system, one of the worst schemes she had “ever seen in local government”.
“We are flying in the face of what the architects of the city wanted, what businesses want, what pedestrians want and what cyclists want,” she said.
Gordon Henderson, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, said that its members felt they had been “comprehensively ignored”.
Among the key findings were that just 35 per cent of those polled supported the one-way system, and only 27 per cent backed splitting bus services between two streets.
David Porteous, a senior council official who authored the report, wrote: “Respondents were sceptical about the benefits of introducing a one-way system to the city centre, arguing that traffic would be displaced if no developments in alternative transport provision or better linkages between other parts of the city were provided.”
He said the changes would benefit businesses.