As the world moves toward the third decade of the 21st century, the greatest threat to humankind is climate change. World cities are changing rapidly and taking on the challenges of carbon emissions.

The Scottish government has already declared an emergency. Edinburgh aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, and to achieve this target; it is important to address the single most contributor of emissions i.e. the transport sector. In 2020, 31% of the carbon emissions were accounted for by transport. The city’s comprehensive planning on mobility aims to be carbon emission-free, efficient, accessible, and affordable. With a robust and diverse economy and rising foreign direct investment, the capital city has solid foundations to build upon, given its thriving cultural offerings and status as the second-most visited city in the United Kingdom. However, the challenges that come with this accomplishment make it even more crucial than ever that the city offers a first-class, clean, fully integrated, sustainable transport system.

There are many aspects of calculating expenditure in the transport sector. Tangible costs are considered most often neglecting the indirect cost of transporting, including unproductive hours in congestions, cost of fatalities, and injury due to traffic.

Addressing Challenges

Ensuring road safety: The design of the traffic system, the streets, and the spaces in the city all influence accessibility to the city’s goods & services. Moving around in the city safely is a challenge as the volume of cars are ever increasing. Active users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, are more at risk of suffering an injury on the streets. The plan aims to prioritize and improve the safety of more vulnerable users.

Image: Safer streets

Climate Emergency: The transport sector’s emissions are on a constant rise despite other sectors have witnessed a decrease in emissions through multiple green interventions. The city plans aim to lead by example. A citywide survey was performed in 2019 to explore the way residents travel. The survey provided the comprehensive picture of how people travel in the city. To allow travel sustainably around the city detailed understanding of the travel behavior analysis of citizens will be performed.

Image: Mode Share of Edinburgh city

Inclusion: Great places are those which are designed for people. The quality of streets plays an important role in how great a place is. Some areas are highly connected in the city, whereas some areas are excluded or poorly served by public transport. Some outer areas are experiencing significant population growth & are also relatively poorly connected.

The city aims to allow people to move without their cars and ensure that public transport, walking, wheeling, and cycling Infrastructure is prioritized. The plan aims to reduce traffic through pedestrian priority zones, car-free streets, and focus on people. The plan also allowed discussion among all stakeholders and citizens via workshops, meetings, and drop-in events. The draft plan was first published and allowed for an appraisal from its citizens.

Congestion: The ability to move around the city in a pleasant environment and to breathe clean air is essential. Many parts of the city’s transport network are highly congested.  Congestion adversely affects the communities; the city aims to manage road demand and enhance the public transport system. The plan, alongside the emerging city plan 2030 promotes the development of a 20-minute neighborhood. The plan reinforces the importance of having access to local services catering to daily needs within a 20-minute walk.

Walking and wheeling are given priority in the sustainable transportation hierarchy, followed by cycling, public transportation, and shared transportation, including taxis. The hierarchy places private car use at the bottom.

Image: Sustainable transportation hierarchy


The path to 2030

By 2025 the city administration aims to develop a comprehensive mass rapid transit plan for the city. It will include a new bus tram and tram system as well as enhanced interchange facilities.

A detailed plan to allocate road space on arterial roads to improve public transport and dedicated active travel infrastructure.

A network plan for bicycle, walking, and wheeling pathways will allow individuals and families to travel in a safer, healthier, and more active manner.

The article is based on the report: CITY MOBILITY PLAN 2021-2030



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