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Edinburgh streets go traffic-free to reduce air pollution

The Open Streets movement will see parts of the city closed off to vehicles.

Streets: Parts of Edinburgh have become pedestrian-friendly.
Streets: Parts of Edinburgh have become pedestrian-friendly. Edinburgh City Council

A number of streets in Edinburgh have closed to traffic as part of a initiative to reduce air pollution.

Edinburgh is the first city in the UK to join the Opens Streets movement, joining the likes of Paris, Bogota and New Orleans who have already signed up.

On Sunday, streets across the city were closed from noon and will be reopened from 5pm.

The first phase of the programme aims to create a people friendly route around the Old Town and will include the Royal Mile, Victoria Street, Grassmarket and Cockburn Street.

The scheme will take place on the first Sunday of every month as part of an 18-month trial.

A number of events are aking place to mark the occasion, with bike displays, graffiti art and guided walks available.

Edinburgh's bike hire scheme will also be free all week to encourage people to ditch their vehicles.

Additional bike parking has been put in place with events staff managing access to the areas for emergency vehicles and blue badge holders.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: "We've seen how successful similar schemes internationally have proved by encouraging active travel, improving air quality and creating a safer, more relaxed atmosphere so I can't wait to see this take shape in the Capital. 

"Climate change is a real threat to society, it's clear that we have to act, and Open Streets is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. 

"We are wholeheartedly committed to creating an accessible, sustainable and people-friendly city and I look forward to seeing lots of residents and visitors enjoying all that's on offer on 5 May against a cleaner, more welcoming traffic-free backdrop."

Streets closed to vehicles

Grassmarket (pedestrian zone between West Bow and King's Stables Road)

West Bow

Victoria Street

Lawnmarket

High Street

St Giles' Street

Cockburn Street

Niddry Street

Blackfriars Street (between High Street and New Skinner's Close)

Canongate (between St Mary/Jeffrey Street and the west side of Reid's Close) Cranston Street

New Street

Old Tolbooth Wynd

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