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Edinburgh publishes 10-year mobility plan

The City Mobility Plan aims to create a better connected, net zero carbon transport system and a more inclusive capital that also champions the concept of the 20-minute neighbourhood.

The City of Edinburgh has published a 10-year plan to deliver a better connected, net-zero carbon transport system and a healthier environment, and more inclusive capital.

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

Subject to approval at a special meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee on 19 February, the plan will replace Edinburgh’s Local Transport Strategy and set out a strategic approach to the “sustainable and effective” movement of people and goods to and around the city over the next decade.

Forward-thinking cities

In a statement, the council said the City Mobility Plan has been inspired by forward-thinking cities around the world, which are embracing challenges to tackle climate change, poverty, and inequality.

Among measures included are the commitment to encourage a change in public behavior 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 center to monitor traffic. The plan also 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 strategy follows several years of engagement with the public, stakeholders, and partners including a consultation last year which gathered more than 1,800 comments on draft proposals with support demonstrated for all policy measures.

Policy measures center around three themes of people, movement, and place. It also acknowledges the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on transport demands and mobility patterns, and how a green recovery can harness the associated effects of lower traffic levels.

The city has set out a Path to 2030 and an implementation plan for policy measures that can be delivered in the short, medium, and long term. The actions include:

2023 Delivering now, planning for the future: construction of a 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; introduction of 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 trams, 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.

“The finalised City Mobility Plan recognises the need to revolutionise the way we move around the capital if we are to tackle the host of challenges we face, both locally and on a global scale,” said transport and environment convener, councilor Lesley Macinnes. “Transport is the biggest generator of carbon emissions in Edinburgh and our commitment to being net-zero carbon by 2030 depends on a step-change in the way we travel, a change which would also significantly impact air quality, congestion, and road safety.

“More than that, our approach to transport addresses poverty and the cost of travel, the barriers facing those with mobility difficulties, and the economic benefits of a better-connected, liveable environment. This is a bold, forward-looking strategy, befitting of this pioneering city, which will transform our streets, neighborhoods, and connections with the rest of the world for generations to come.”

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