According to the article, George Street is to undergo a radical transformation in order to make it more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. The massively wide Georgian street has been described by Edinburgh Evening News as “Edinburgh’s most prestigious shopping district”, and it currently uses its space to accommodate four lanes of traffic as well as curb-side parking and parking along the length of its central reservation. The fact that it doesn’t even have a cycle lane makes this new bicycle-friendly proposal all the more astonishing!
Pedestrianising George Street will undoubtedly increase footfall and therefore increase spending in its notoriously overpriced shops. In spite of the fact that this program of pedestrianisation was thus likely to have been motivated more by economic ends than environmental ones, I am hopeful that the benefits of having a space like this will initiate significant knock-on effects. Even though this is just a modest first step in the grand scheme of things, the fact that it is being implemented so centrally means that city planners are at least beginning to question the antediluvian rationale that prioritises the motor vehicle over everyone else. That said, they haven’t actually implemented anything yet, and so I’ll withhold my praise until I’ve seen it with my own eyes and ridden it with my own wheels.