City council chiefs are facing demands to ban traffic from key thoroughfares during the main Edinburgh Festival season amid claims they are now “intolerable” for people to walk down in August.
Campaigners want the Canongate, the Cowgate and the Lawnmarket to be among the streets targeted for pedestrianisation next August.
In an open letter to council leader Adam McVey, Living Streets Edinburgh has urged him to take “urgent” action to improve the safety of the city. It also wants the council to ensure more late night bus and train services are in place next August.
Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “In addition to the well-known negative health effects, heavy traffic and congestion has been shown to damage the fragile historic fabric of our city, and prevent its full enjoyment and appreciation by both residents and visitors.
“Many European cities operate far more restrictive traffic regimes within their historic centres, including extensive pedestrianisation, appropriate public transport solutions, as well as restrictions on deliveries – both in terms of time of day and size of vehicle. We look forward to working with the council on a range of long-term solutions.”
Living Streets Edinburgh David Spaven said: “We’ve been calling for restrictions on private traffic during the summer festivals for several years. The experience for pedestrians, hemmed into narrow streets surrounded by traffic, has become intolerable.”
Council leader Adam McVey said: “We’re already taking positive strides towards improving the balance for residents. In the longer term, we’re committed to improving pedestrian access, not just during August but throughout the year.
“We want to make travel by foot or by bike as safe and enjoyable as possible. Opening up the city to create welcoming, accessible public spaces and transport will be central to this.”