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City Mobility Plan revolutionises travel in Edinburgh for a greener, fairer future


A City Mobility Plan 2021-2030 has been published (12 February), subject to City of Edinburgh Council committee approval, aiming to ‘revolutionise’ the way we travel around Edinburgh.

Inspired by forward-thinking cities around the world embracing challenges posed by climate change, poverty and inequality, the ten-year plan aims to deliver a better connected, net zero carbon transport system, a healthier environment and a thriving, inclusive Capital.

Subject to approval at a special meeting of  the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee to be held on Friday 19 February, the Plan will replace Edinburgh’s Local Transport Strategy, setting out a strategic approach to the sustainable and effective movement of people and goods to and around the city over the next decade.

Amongst measures included in the Plan are the commitment to encourage a change in public behaviour towards the use of sustainable transport, the expansion of the tram and mass rapid transit network, improvements to bus routes, creating ‘mobility hubs’ in existing communities and new developments and introducing a city operations centre to monitor traffic. Additionally, the Plan pledges to create more liveable places less dominated by motor traffic and to build on the city’s network of walking, wheeling and cycling routes.

The final Plan follows several years of engagement with the public, stakeholders and partners. Most recently, a consultation in 2020 gathered more than 1800 comments on draft proposals with support demonstrated for all policy measures.

Thanks to feedback the Council has been able to strengthen and expand upon these policy measures, which centre around three themes: People, Movement and Place.

The updated Plan acknowledges the impact the COVID pandemic has had on transport demands and mobility patterns, and how a green recovery can harness the associated effects of lower traffic levels.

Alongside the adopted Local Development Plan and emerging City Plan 2030, the City Mobility Plan also champions 20-minute neighbourhoods, an internationally recognised concept where local services are within a 20-minute walk of your front door. It goes even further to envision neighbourhoods where people’s daily needs can be met within a 10-minute walk or wheel from their house.

This news was received positively by Edinburgh BioQuarter. Anna Stamp, Interim Programme Director said, “ We warmly welcome the publication of the City Mobility Plan as it will reap huge benefits across the length and breadth of Edinburgh for years to come.

It is particularly encouraging to see Edinburgh BioQuarter highlighted, with many of the key elements of the Plan also at the heart of our proposals for creating Edinburgh’s Health Innovation District.

The Mobility Plan will play a significant role in the success of BioQuarter as the destination evolves and grows over the coming decades. The Plan also sets out the environmental strategies which will be deployed across the city, aligned with our vision for a sustainable neighbourhood with health innovation, research and enterprise at its core.

We are more determined than ever before to create a new urban quarter for people in our communities to live, learn, work, play and discover – together.”

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “ The City Mobility Plan aims to transform transport and mobility in the Capital, addressing challenges posed by climate change, inequality and air pollution, amongst other issues. It also recognises the opportunities better connected, accessible travel offers for driving economic growth, citywide development and social inclusion.

“By focusing on improved public transport and expanding the mass rapid transit network we want to provide sustainable, high capacity travel options connecting people to employment, health care and leisure, as well as key areas of growth and innovation, such as the Edinburgh BioQuarter.”

Transport and Environment Vice Convener Councillor Karen Doran added: “ This bold strategy will transform our streets, neighbourhoods and connections with areas of development, to isolated communities and further afield. Our approach to transport acknowledges the economic benefits of a better-connected, liveable environment while addressing the cost of travel, our carbon neutral goals and the need to provide healthier, greener transport options.”

Having collaborated closely with residents, local groups and businesses in the development of the Plan, the Council want to continue to involve them as we move towards a greener, fairer and more inclusive future. By placing people at the heart of the Plan, the aim is to offer everyone sustainable choices for moving around the city, helping Edinburgh meet its target of net zero emissions by 2030 and providing safer, cheaper and healthier options for every member of society.

In order to achieve this, the City of Edinburgh Council has set out a ‘Path to 2030’ and an implementation plan for policy measures which can be delivered in the short, medium and long term.

Path to 2030 actions include:

2023 – Delivering now, planning for the future
Construction of tram route to Newhaven will be complete and operational; a comprehensive review of bus routes in the city will have taken place; a Low Emission Zone will be in operation; we will have introduced a Workplace Parking Levy, subject to consultation and approval; Council-owned public transport companies will have been reformed to offer better integration and value for money.

2025 – Bolder actions
A comprehensive mass rapid transit plan for the city and region will be completed, including new bus and tram systems; the business case for a north-south tram line will be agreed, linking Granton to the BioQuarter and beyond; a new bus route network will be in place; iconic streets will become increasingly traffic free; George Street will be transformed; the development of a strategic network of walking/wheeling and cycle routes will open up active travel for all; the 20-minute neighbourhoods concept will be starting to deliver local benefits.

2030 – A city transformed
The mass transit network, including tram, will have been extended west; the city’s seven park and ride facilities will have been upgraded; some arterial routes will be used for mass commuting by bike; the city centre will be largely car-free; a comprehensive city freight and servicing operations system will be in place; the implementation of the Waverley Station Masterplan will be underway.

Once in place, the implementation plan will be monitored and regularly updated. Its success will be measured against several objectives, including an increase in the number of trips made by active and sustainable modes of travel, ensuring transport options in the city are inclusive and affordable and the reduction of harmful emissions from road transport.

Find out more about the City Mobility Plan

Read the Full Report