Edinburgh one-way system trial to be delayed

A decision on a new one-way transport pilot for Edinburgh is set to be delayed until August. Picture: Jane Barlow
A decision on a new one-way transport pilot for Edinburgh is set to be delayed until August. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A DECISION on a new one-way transport pilot set to be introduced in Edinburgh city centre to cope with the trams has been pushed back until later this year after widespread opposition from business leaders.

• Edinburgh City Council will delay a decision on implementing a one-way transport system in the city centre

• Transport leader Lesley Hinds says opposition to move will be taken into consideration

Edinburgh City Council had been expected to approve a 12-month pilot on Tuesday, which would see traffic run in a loop around the main shopping thoroughfares.

As The Scotsman reported on Saturday, a survey of residents and businesses by the local authority found just 35 per cent of those polled supported the system, but council leaders insisted they would push ahead with the scheme.

Last night, transport leader Lesley Hinds admitted the decision would now be postponed until August to allow for problems to be taken into consideration.

The one way system is expected to come in next year when the tram network is launched.

David Birrell, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, had earlier said that the system should be halted ahead of the 12 month completion date if traders report a significant losses.

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.

Among the key complaints from Princes Street businesses is that around half of bus services will now drop passengers off on George Street, reducing footfall outside their stores.

Mr Birrell said the critical factor for retailers is footfall.

“The feedback they have given us is that they do not see how it would increase footfall,” he told The Scotsman.

“We will want to make sure there is a measure of footfall to test whether the trial is a success or not. If the shops see a significant downturn we will be speaking up before the end of the trial and asking for a re-think.”

He said retail was a big employer and the council needed a “city-wide strategy” instead of a plan for just the two main shopping streets.

Spokes, the cycling campaign group, had lobbied heavily for cycling provision on Princes Street, and said they were surprised that George Street, which there was has less support for, had been chosen instead.

“We are shocked that cycling will not be allowed in Princes Street other than westbound, mixing it with buses and taxis, suitable only for the most confident [cyclists]”, the group said on its website.

Critics of the project have likened the move to the controversial 2005 Central Edinburgh Traffic Management project which cost over £4.5 million.

The project, which included retractable bollards in George Street and Frederick Street and a series of road closures in the New Town, attracted huge opposition from city residents and was axed.

Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, told The Scotsman: “The city centre report came out later than I would have liked because the consultation only finished recently and there have obviously been a number of comments over the past few days.

“In these circumstances, the city centre working group wishes to continue the report to the next Transport and Environment Committee. This will give stakeholders a chance to look closely at the proposal over the summer and will also give us time to reflect on some of the issues that have been raised.”

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