City Mobility Plan Will Put People Not Cars First

Submitted by edg on Fri, 10 Jan '20 7.37pm
Passing an Edinburgh Tram

Edinburgh City Council has released a draft City Mobility Plan for 2030 that would open up many of Edinburgh’s “iconic” streets to pedestrians, create mass commuting by bicycle along arterial roads, extend the tram to new parts of the city, and tackle bus congestion. 

By 2030, Edinburgh's city centre would be “largely car-free” as the council pushes through a series of changes that prioritise walking, cycling, and public transport, over cars.

“We’re already making great strides towards reducing carbon emissions in Edinburgh but, if we are to achieve our 2030 target, now is the time to be even bolder and more ambitious,” said Council Leader Adam McVey.

Edinburgh has a target of being carbon-neutral by the end of the decade.

Poverty, pollution, and climate change are key drivers of the initiative, said McVey and Depute Leader Cammy Day in a statement.

“Australia’s devastating bushfires have brought home the urgent need to act on climate change and cities all over the globe have a huge part to play in tackling it,” they said.

The draft plan, which will be discussed by members of the Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday (16 January), is built on four strategic priorities: enhancing public transport, people-friendly streets, planning new developments and managing demand.

Under the plan, Edinburgh’s tram line could be extended to Granton and south to the Bio Quarter. George Street, as well as Victoria Street and Cockburn Street could be pedestrianised.

Full pedestrianisation of George Street by 2025 depends on the outcome of re-routing of the bus network.

In a review of the city’s bus network, buses could be removed from Princes Street to alleviate congestion, taking a "to not through" policy on bus routes. A “seamless” integrated ticketing system would be put in place for public transport, that includes bike rental.

The plan would advance in three phases. The first phase of the City Mobility Plan will incorporate several major projects already underway in Edinburgh, such as the construction of the tram route to Newhaven, the delivery of a Low Emissions Zone and the City Centre Transformation programme, which will revamp the way in which people move around the city centre.

Sustrans Deputy CEO John Lauder called the release of the CMP  “the start of an exciting conversation” and welcomed the inclusion of plans for the suburbs and outer reaches of the city environs. 

Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland, also welcomed the “fresh thinking” of the CMP: “It’s vital that Edinburgh matches the efforts of European capitals, including Paris, Brussels and Oslo which have taken bold measures to prioritise pedestrians instead of traffic… Experience from other cities suggests the inevitable challenges of transition, from a city focused on cars to people, will be worth it.”

Three Phases of the City Mobility Plan


  • Tram route to Newhaven will be largely complete
  • A comprehensive review of bus routes in the city will have taken place
  • The current generation of major active travel schemes will be delivered
  • The Low Emissions Zone will be in place
  • A plan for the investment of the resources generated in public transport improvements by a workplace parking levy will be complete
  • The City Centre Transformation Programme will have identified the transformational redesign of city centre places and space 
  • Working with Transport Scotland and Network Rail, the Waverley station masterplan will have a full implementation plan


  • Mass rapid transit plan for the city and region will be completed. This will include new bus and tram systems, as well as park and ride and edge of city logistics hubs
  • The business case for a north south tram line will be agreed, linking Granton to the Bio Quarter and beyond
  • A new bus strategy will be agreed, including stops, routes, and public transport interchanges. Bus congestion will be reduced and bus penetration of key streets like Princes Street will be addressed
  • George Street will be transformed
  • Income from the workplace parking levy will be delivering public transport improvements, focused on quality, innovation and affordability for those in greatest need
  • Air pollution levels will have been significantly reduced following the introduction of a low emission cordon around the city centre and the city boundary
  • A data driven approach to mobility needs will be in place, working with the taxi trade, public transport providers and the commercial sector
  • Conditions for pedestrians will be much improved, thanks to the delivery of the Edinburgh street design guidance policy and a rigorous approach to enforcement


  • The mass transit network, including tram, will have been extended west to Newbridge and will have been developed to connect the Waterfront in the north to the Royal Infirmary in the south and beyond.
  • The city region’s seven park and ride facilities will be upgraded to support fast and frequent public transport along strategic bus lanes and mass rapid transit routes travel from these interchanges into the city. 
  • Arterial routes will be being used for mass commuting by bike
  • The city centre will be largely car free, with the workplace parking levy reducing in revenue as car use to commute declines. 
  • Iconic streets will be progressively pedestrianised. Elsewhere pavements widths will have been significantly widened with obstacles removed. 
  • Seamless pricing, ticketing and accessibility will allow passengers to move between different forms of transport, from their cars to trams and local buses at these interchanges, without having to pay at different access points.

City Mobility Plan: Next Steps

If approved by Transport and Environment Committee next week, an eight-week public consultation on the draft plan will begin in February.  

This, alongside a comprehensive travel behaviour survey to be completed by the end of February, will form the basis of a finalised plan to be brought to committee later this year supported by a delivery plan.

The draft City Mobility Plan will be discussed, and broadcast online from 10am on Thursday, 16 January.