The city is the first in the UK to join the Open Streets movement, following in the footsteps of Paris, Bogota and New York.
Edinburgh Streets Shut To Traffic in Move to Cut Air Pollution

Several streets in the centre of Edinburgh were closed to cars, vans, motorbikes and buses on Sunday afternoon as part of plans to cut air pollution.

The city was the first in the UK to join the Open Streets movement, following in the footsteps of Paris, Bogota and New York.

The aim was to create a "people-friendly" route around the Old Town, where the public were able to enjoy the historic area on foot or by bike.

The Open Streets team made sure people with a disability were able to access the traffic-free roads safely.

Organisers wanted to "promote a healthy, active and inclusive city", celebrate its culture and boost the economy.

Streets, including the Canongate, Cockburn Street and Victoria Street, were shut from midday until 5pm.

The initiative is taking place on the first Sunday of every month as part of an 18-month trial.

To celebrate the occasion, a number of events were organised, including jazz performances, Tai Chi and electronic bike trials.

Transport and environment convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, 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 Sunday against a cleaner, more welcoming traffic-free backdrop."

But opponents have warned the event may hit local business trade and push polluting traffic to other parts of Edinburgh.

Conservative Councillor Scott Douglas said: "The Open Streets initiative has the potential to have a hugely negative impact on our city centre. Not only will it make it harder for residents to access local shops, it will also likely lead to an increase in congestion elsewhere in the city.

"That's why it is important that the SNP-Labour administration carefully and truthfully analyse all of the consequences of these closures.

"Unfortunately it seems as if they are ready to call it a success regardless of the impact it has on local businesses and the increased congestion and pollution that it pushes elsewhere."
 

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