Our reasons

The project has a key strategic role in the future of Edinburgh’s city centre, as well as lots of local benefits. Our designs have been developed based on feedback from people who use the streets and key datasets about the streets.

Edinburgh City Centre Transformation

Meadows to George Street builds upon the Council’s Active Travel Action Plan and the strategic aims of the City Vision and Local Transport Strategy. Having been developed in co-ordination with the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy, it forms a key part of the proposal, as well as integrating with the George Street and First New Town project at Hanover Street.

At the heart of the World Heritage Site, and spanning the new and old towns, the project is vital to improving streets that connect some of Edinburgh’s most iconic places: Greyfriars, the Meadows, the Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, the Grassmarket and the National Gallery. For cycling, it provides the missing link to the city centre from the existing cycle network to the east, south and south west parts of the city.

What people have told us so far

We’ve been speaking to people who use the streets regularly and we’ll be adding interview videos here during the concept design consultation. Listen to their views on our proposals.

Our consultation on the Concept Design stage has now closed. In the next few months we will share a summary of all comments that were sent in. If you would like to contact us please use the details below.

In 2018 we undertook public, stakeholder and local business engagement about the existing issues and desired changes for the streets. This included over 300 online comments and 100s more pieces of feedback from on street surveys and conversations.  Here’s a summary of the key themes that emerged and how our proposals relate to them.

You said

Walking

  • More crossings are required and existing crossings need improving.
  • Pavements are too narrow, cluttered and overcrowded at certain times.

Public spaces

  • There isn’t enough space around Greyfriars Bobby
  • Too few spaces to sit and rest
  • Too few places to wait and enjoy the street
  • People would like more trees and green spaces. 

Cycling

  • Cycling feels unsafe because there is too much traffic
  • Vehicles block the cycle lanes
  • Not enough cycle parking

Buses and other traffic

  • Streets feel overly dominated by traffic, particularly large vehicles. This diminishes peoples’ enjoyment of the streets as places to spend time in.

Parking and loading

  • Maintaining sufficient and clearly organised loading is important for local businesses.

We’re proposing

Walking

  • New and improved crossings on the routes people want to use.
  • Wider, decluttered pavements.

Public spaces

  • New and improved public spaces and seating across the project area.

Cycling

A segregated cycleway along Forrest Road, George IV Bridge, Bank Street, the Mound and Hanover Street. This will integrate with a planned segregated cycleway on George Street.

Buses and other traffic

Reducing the amount of traffic on Forrest Road, Candlemaker Row, George IV Bridge and Bank Street.

Parking and loading

Sufficient loading bays for the loading demand and we will be clearly setting out the loading access periods in the next design stage.

What the data tells us

During 2018 we undertook studies of how the streets currently function for walking, public space, cycling, parking/loading and bus/traffic movement. You can click on any of the maps to open a larger or zoom-able version.

Walking

The majority of the pavements are currently too narrow, and/or too cluttered for the numbers of users, particularly during festival periods. Thus they fall below the desired standards of the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance’s pedestrian comfort model.

There are a number of crossing desire lines which are not currently provided for, such as between the National Museum and Greyfriars Bobby.

Public Spaces

The amount of people staying to relax and enjoy the streets is far below what we would expect at such iconic locations.

Cycling

The route has some of the highest numbers of cyclists in the city and, at the Meadows, connects to the busiest intersection of routes for cycling in Edinburgh.

Buses and other traffic

As part of Edinburgh City Centre Transformation, traffic modelling of the city centre has been undertaken. This indicates that the proposed changes to where traffic is permitted can be achieved without causing significant traffic congestion in the city centre or impacts on bus services.

Parking and loading

We undertook a detailed survey of all parking and loading on the these and surrounding streets. This has informed our design to make sure we provide a sufficient amount of loading for businesses.

Benefits of walking, cycling and public spaces

Economic

  • £16.8m annual benefit to Edinburgh from people with a car choosing to cycle for transport. 1
  • £24m benefit to Edinburgh from all trips made by bicycle. 1
  • Well-planned improvements to public spaces within town and city centres have been shown to boost commercial trading by up to 40%. 2
  • Investments in walking environments can increase the value of residential and commercial properties, and of rental income. 3

Health

  • In Edinburgh, the physical activity benefits of cycling prevent 11 early deaths annually valued at £35m. 1
  • Cycling also averts 106 serious long term health conditions annually, saving the NHS in Edinburgh £731,000pa. 1
  • Increased physical activity can be very beneficial to general well-being. 4
  • Decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease if you cycle to work. 5
  • 33 – 50% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you are physically active. 6

Environment

  • 6,164 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions saved annually by people in Edinburgh cycling rather than driving. This is equivalent to the carbon footprint of 1,258 people.1
  • More street trees and wildflowers increases local biodiversity, absorbs carbon, helps filter out air pollutants and can help improve mental well-being. 7, 8

1. Bike Life Edinburgh 2017.

2. Living Streets, The pedestrian pound— The business case for better streets and places

3. Living Streets, Making the Case for Investment in the Walking Environment

4. Mental Health Foundation (2005). Up and Running: Exercise therapy and the treatment of mild or moderate depression in primary care

5. NHS National Services Scotland (2017). Scottish Heart Disease Statistics

6. American Diabetes Association (2018). Lower your risk: What Can Physical Activity Do for Me? Published Online

7. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2016), Benefits of Urban Trees, published online

8. Scottish Wildlife Trust (2016), Researcher reveal the flower power in urban wildflower meadows, published online

Get In Touch

Waverley Court
4 East Market Street
Edinburgh
EH8 8BG

Sign up for updates

We will be sending out regular updates about the project’s progress, and as we make decisions based on your input. You can opt into these updates through the link below.