Saturday, October 10, 2015

George Street

This post is going to be fairly disjointed, it's just a few disconnected thoughts I have about George Street and what should be done with it.

For background, I usually travel around town by bike or on foot, although I regularly take the bus or use one of the city car club cars too. I take the train from Waverley most days. I've lived in Edinburgh for just over about year, before that I lived in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Anyway, here are my thoughts...

1) The consultation has rightly sought to find out people's opinions on a wide range of issues. But when commonly held opinions differ from data gathered by the council, the council should not be afraid of trusting their data. For example, many people are of the opinion that the majority of shoppers on George Street get there by car, data from Essential Edinburgh shows this to be very very wrong. If we are planning for the movement of people throughout our city it is important to know how most people get around, not how we think most people get around.

2) We should have a serious think about the effect that car parking and bus stops have on the economy and attractiveness of George Street. It is notable that pedestrian footfall went up (and by more than the rest of the city centre) when vehicular access went down.

3) Leith Walk has lots of lovely smooth bike lane which serves as an excellent place for people to double park. If there is to be car parking on George Street then the bike lane should be on the pavement side of this, otherwise the bike lane will be permanently blocked by cars dropping people off. Don't overestimate the council's ability to enforce the rules here, the only way to keep the bike lane clear is to make it impractical for cars to use.

4) It is perfectly possible for vans making deliveries to shops to be parked  the other side of the bike lane from the shop. This happened every day on my commute to work in Utrecht. There is no problem with allowing vans to make deliveries to shops and cyclists to have a safe-segregated bike lane. 

5) If the current plan is not to pedestrianised any part of George Street year round, then at the very least it should be pedestrianised during the festival.

It strikes me that none of the planners that I've met at the two consultations for George Street were of the opinion that George street is fundamental to the movement of cars or buses through the city, but they want to keep some traffic on George street because they worry it will look too empty in the winter months if there is no traffic and few shoppers. I don't agree with this view and think that year round pedestrianisation would work, but it seems that this is not being seriously considered by the planners at the moment.

At the very least though, we should completely pedestrianise George street and fill it with exciting events for the summer months, when we have lots of footfall and lots of scope for making George Street a really exciting place.

The question of how this is done needs thinking about now. If you encourage cars and buses to rely on George street then you need to think about how to remove them in the Summer. This is a particular issue given that buses can't turn from Princes Street to Waverley Bridge at the moment.

6) If there are occasional buses using George Street this can be done without creating an overtaking lane, other vehicles can wait behind for thirty seconds.

Anyway, as I said, pretty disjointed, but these were my thoughts and they didn't fit on the post it notes available at the consultation! 

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