Emergency closure of three Edinburgh roads for walkers and cyclists

The city council is to shut Silverknowes Road, Braid Road and Links Gardens within days.

More pavement space will be required for people post-lockdown. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.
More pavement space will be required for people post-lockdown. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

It said the “emergency measures” to ban traffic were among the first by a Scottish council to create more space for pedestrians and riders to safely exercise during the lockdown.

Glasgow and other local authorities are expected to follow suit so people can keep 2m apart from each other.

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Edinburgh City Council said its first action was to “tackle areas highlighted as pinch points for pedestrians and cyclists and will include some road lane closures and the implementation of temporary cycle lanes”.

Edinburgh City Council is the first in Scotland to unveil its plans to reshape streets post-lockdown. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

It said there has been “significant, understandable public demand for action to help facilitate safe daily exercise and the movement of essential workers”.

Silverknowes Road in the north of the city will be shut by tomorrow.

Braid Road, south from Morningside, and Links Gardens, beside Leith Links, are to follow by Sunday.

Further such emergency measures are being considered for implementation in the weeks starting 4 and 11 May, with details to follow.

The council said: “In the medium term, as lockdown measures continue and are eventually eased, we will develop a citywide approach to more significant changes, such as expanded cycle lanes and the creation of bus gates.

“Longer term, it is proposed that progress on more permanent schemes under the active travel programme is brought forward.”

Council leader Adam McVey said: “The way we move around the city has changed significantly over recent weeks and it’s clear that we need to respond to this.

“We’ve been working closely with the Scottish Government to develop measures to help pedestrians and cyclists travel safely while remaining socially distant, so we’re delighted that Transport Scotland has confirmed funding to support local authorities to meet this challenge.

“Our commitment to encouraging and facilitating safer, more convenient walking and cycling in Edinburgh remains as strong as ever.

“We want to ensure our city can support essential journeys and let local people access their local open spaces by creating safe, accessible routes to do so.”

Depute leader Cammy Day said: “As we plan for the city’s recovery, we must consider ways in which we can help people make daily journeys while limiting the potential impact of coronavirus, and maintaining physical distancing is essential to this.

“We’re going to be making changes around the city over the coming weeks to achieve this, as well as progressing plans to further improve infrastructure as we emerge from the crisis.”

The council said it would “continue to quickly address other ‘pinch points’ and local issues, making use of temporary traffic regulation orders where necessary, which allow urgent amendments to be made to road layouts to help create more space for people on foot or bike”.

Green councillor Claire Miller welcomed the moves.

She said: "Transport Scotland figures last week showed that lockdown has changed our priorities.

“As movement restrictions continue, it is important we keep those taking their vital daily exercise safe.

“That means the increasing number of people walking and cycling on our streets should be able to maintain social distancing clear of traffic.

“That's why I have been keen to see the city council introduce adequate protections for people on a temporary basis, whether that be closing some roads to traffic, or affording pedestrians and cyclists more space.

“Today's first steps are welcome and I look forward to seeing more."

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