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Get on your bike.

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Life, and sometimes death, gets in the way. 

The next stage consultation for the “George Street Operational Plan & Project” took place last week.  I missed the meetings.    A report was submitted to Edinburgh Council on Thursday. 

Highlights, or lowlights, depending on your perspective: “delivery of high-quality public realm improvements are essential in supporting a safe walking and cycling environment, business recovery and growth with a focus on delivering inclusive access for all.”  Well that covers all bases.  

Leads on to say….

Delivering a “pedestrian and cycling priority zone where George Street will operate without non-essential vehicle access during set periods of the day”. Ouch!  In the summer this has merits, especially if you can ride a bike; in the winter?  You’ll be seeing Victor on the 31 Bus with 3 cases of rhubarb and rainbow chard. You’ll quickly be moving upstairs, if it’s wild garlic season. 

Work may start in 2025 (plus some).

Work may finish in 2027 or 28; (plus some). 

Cost from £30 – £32m (plus some) with total project costs totaling £36m (plus some).  

£10m to be paid by Edinburgh Council, £15.07m funded by Sustrans Scotland Places for Everyone.  The gap to be filled with further grants (or rates increases, more council cuts and double ouch somewhere else). 

The report states “to deliver a car free, cycle and pedestrian civic space to support meeting the Cities net zero target of 2030”.   Oh dear, the car free net zero will not be care free.  On paper, great for the tourists, perhaps! For the majority of locals, will it be a positive outcome?  The trees that may get permission, contrary to the original 18th century plans, are hopeful to contribute.  Victor and any other guerilla gardener will be the citys’ weeders for the proposed planters I’m sure.   

 I would ban commercial vehicles parking on the street today, if I could.  I wonder in the future if the rhetoric we’re told we have of a disdain for cars, will still be there.  Especially when we’ve all gone electric. 

An Economic Impact Assessment was completed.  The potential positive benefit – cost ratio over a 20 year period was 2.2.  I think this means you get 2.2 times the benefit for every £1 spent.   What will the outcome be if we head in the same direction as the trams;  loved now by most, £400m over budget, three years late and reporting annual net losses since 2017.  Interestingly the George Street Project will “create a significant number of construction jobs”.  (Note to self get a job as a paver.)  

If it was my money, I would be spending less on our front door step, and more across the city.  

George Street has been our business home for 20 years.  Improvements to the public realm are essential.   How many consultations have told us to be careful so we don’t trip up on the broken slabs? 

Our home home is on the outskirts; half a mile off the bypass.   The daily accidents that happen on this road are a genuine concern.  I remember Nonna G drove me from Cockenzie to Heriot Watt campus at Riccarton when the bypass opened.  It must have been 1987 / 88.  It was busy then, today it doesn’t feel fit for purpose.  The level of house building that has happened, inside and outside of this two lane city circular, from then to now, must be in the multiple tens of thousands.  

We’re told there is a housing crisis; at the critical price point, yes there absolutely is.  However most new homes built in the suburbs have two cars parked in their immaculate drives.  

If you’re not allowed to drive into the city and the bypass is constantly like a packed car park, can somewhere please tell me where all these cars are going?   Maybe they are in all the out of town shopping centres.  Soulless places (with no cathedrals), exempt from all the LEZ’s rules soon to be effective in all Scottish cities. 

I welcomed John Swinney’s and Kate Forbes’s appointments.  Time will tell if they will be here long enough, after July’s Westminster Elections, to make good changes.  I wonder if the idea of this consultation was presented today as a concept, would it get their green light or would they be saying  “get on your bike!” 

Keep well, keep fit and keep smiling. 

Carina 

PS sorry this was a long one, the journey hasn’t been short on this trip. 

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