Pedestrians step up to George Street changes

A trial to transform one of Edinburgh’s main thoroughfares is proving a success, two months on from its launch.

The year-long George Street pilot aims to make the area more attractive to residents, visitors and shoppers by increasing pedestrian space and introducing a dedicated two-way cycle lane.

And the changes have already received a positive response, with 90% of people questioned saying they thought they had made the street more attractive.

Council officers have interviewed more than 200 passers-by since the start of the pilot, with 79% of respondents considering changes to have provided an improved pedestrian experience.

Seventy six per cent also think the trial encourages people to walk more, while 78% believe it has encouraged people to spend more time on George Street.

In addition, footfall figures have demonstrated the public’s interest, with an 8.7% increase between September and October on the same time last year.

Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: ““Edinburgh is a fantastic city, as I’m sure all those who live and visit here will vouch for, but now we want to make its centre a better place to live, work, dine, cycle and shop. 

“That’s why we based our vision for George Street on consultation with the public, businesses and local groups, and it’s great to see from the latest feedback that the changes are having a positive effect.

“However, the purpose of this trial is to help develop a longer term plan for the street, that takes account of the existing World Heritage Site setting and the range of proposed new developments in Edinburgh’s dynamic city centre. I would urge all those who use the street to give us their opinions on the pilot during this year-long trial.”

Designs for George Street were based on feedback from a six-week consultation with stakeholders and the public. Planners ensured minimal changes to parking for residents and visitors, with spaces in the centre of the street, separated from new cycle lanes by rubber kerbs and decorative planters, and residents’ parking maintained in the design.

The 12-month trial will allow the Council to review the impact on residents, visitors, businesses and movement in and around the city centre before considering a more permanent solution. More than 1000 people will be interviewed on George Street throughout the trial, seeking to find out what the public would like to see happen with the street in the long term.

Information boards in the street will allow the public to give their feedback.

George Street trial: The numbers
  • 90% consider George Street is more attractive since the Council’s changes were implemented 
  • 79% think changes have provided an improved pedestrian experience
  • 78% think the changes encourage people to spend more time in George Street
  • 76% think the changes encourage people to walk more
  • 76% said they felt the changes had made their day more enjoyable, 22% said it made no difference to them, only 2% said less enjoyable.
  • The most common reasons for going to George Street was dining (29%) browsing/window shopping (29%), shopping (22%), meeting friends/family (21%), drinking (19%) most respondents gave multiple reasons.
  • 34% said they would spend 1-3 hours on George Street, the most commonly reported duration of stay.

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