City transformation plans set for consultation

15th Jan 2020

Two of the UK’s major cities have set out plans to transform their central areas in order to remove cars, encourage sustainable transport and make streets friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists.

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Birmingham published its new draft transport plan this week – including proposals to limit city centre access and ban through trips for private cars – after Edinburgh revealed its draft city mobility plan on Friday.

Each aim to achieve carbon neutrality as well as tackle the urban challenges of significant traffic congestion, poor air quality and areas lacking public transport provision.

A major ambition in Birmingham’s plan is to reallocate road space away from single occupancy cars and create a network of pedestrianised streets and public spaces integrated with public transport services and cycling infrastructure.

“As a city, we have been over reliant on private cars for too long,” said the city’s cabinet member for transport and environment Waseem Zaffar. “The more journeys we take by walking and cycling, the more we will improve air quality and our health and the more we will reduce congestion. For longer journeys, buses, trams and trains will be the backbone of a new, go anywhere transport system.”

Plans to restrict car access through the city centre include looking at different options for the central section of the A38, including rerouting it to an upgraded ring road to keep vehicles clear of central areas.

Public transport improvements such as reintroducing cross city buses, delivering a Sprint rapid transit network and an extended Metro tram network will help to ensure public transport is the preferred choice for travelling into and out of the city, the plan says.

Further measures include improvements to rail stations, development of new public realm, introducing standard 20mph limits on all local roads and supporting potential trials of electrically powered scooters.

The draft 2031 plan is set to go out to public consultation from 28 January, subject to Cabinet approval later this week.

Meanwhile Edinburgh’s 10 year draft city mobility plan could see many of the city’s historic streets pedestrianised and tram lines extended north to Granton and south to the Bio Quarter.

It is hoped that the city centre will be carbon neutral and largely car free by 2030, with income from a workplace parking levy delivering public transport improvements and mass commuting by bicycle on arterial routes.

City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey said: “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.”

Deputy leader Cammy Day added: “I’m confident that we’re doing the right things to help tackle the increasing threat of climate change but it’s clear that we need to act with even greater pace and urgency if we are to protect the city, while creating a greener, healthier, better connected environment for generations to come.”

If approved by the Council this week, an eight week public consultation on the draft plan will begin in February.

Living Streets Scotland director Stuart Hay commented: “A largely car free city centre by 2030 is essential if Edinburgh is to tackle air pollution, congestion and health issues associated with inactivity.”

(Image: Midland Metro Alliance)

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