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Pedestrianised route in Edinburgh city centre reverting back to road

Vehicles will return to George Street as street reverts back to previous layout in September but a cycle lane will remain.

George Street

A major street in Edinburgh will revert to its traditional layout in September following a year-long pedestrianisation trial.

The trial saw more of George Street given over to pedestrians and outdoor seating for restaurants and bars.

A dedicated cycle lane running from Charlotte Square to St Andrew Square was also included in the trial design.

Most recently, "tiny parklets" were added to the pedestrian areas in a bid to tempt shoppers to the street.

Although traffic is to return to both sides of the street from September, council officials are recommending that an interim advisory cycle lane is retained on both sides of the street.

This means that the street will return to its previous layout with cars returning to driving along both sides of the streets and tables and chairs removed from the road for around nine months while decisions are made about the future of the street.

More changes in the pipeline

The George Street trial may be coming to an end, but work has already work on a final design for the street which officials say will include a segregated bike route.

They estimate it will take another nine months to a year to complete the legal processes needed to agree a final design and make permanent changes to the street layout.

Transport convener Lesley Hinds says this is a process carried out in many places around the world.

"There was a trial period for a year and during that year, there was public consultations, open meetings, with people engaging - businesses, residents and other organisations - and putting forward what they liked about the experimental trial and what they didn't like,” she said.

"In that time, we have been consulting and asking what works and what doesn't works. This is what happens in New York and other places."

Feedback gathered from the trial design of the street shows that cyclists do not like moving from one side of George Street to the other and [people] do not like the temporary structures which were added, but do like the increased space for pedestrians and having cafes outside.

"One of the biggest criticisms that Edinburgh has had is that they have just gone in and put in things," cllr Hinds said.

"It was always said at the beginning it would be a trial period and, come September, it would go back to the way it was.

"We will be coming forward with proposals that will take account what people thought were positive - which was dedicated cycling route, and also for pedestrians to be able to have that nicer environment which has worked in every single capital city in Europe and in places like New York."

The next stakeholder meeting will take place at 10am on June 15 at Assembly Rooms which anyone can attend - and a full consultation will follow to assess what aspects of the trial worked well, a process Essential Edinburgh says it will be fully involved in.

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said. “Essential Edinburgh will play a key role in assisting in this consultation and taking forward the views of all the businesses in the BID area.

“Once this is complete Essential Edinburgh will take these views forward with the City of Edinburgh Council and other stakeholders.”

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