Edinburgh’s Transport leaders have welcomed calls by more than 140 medical professionals to retain and expand upon measures introduced to support walking, wheeling and cycling during lockdown.
Doctors and health workers from across the city have published an open letter to the City of Edinburgh Council in support of the Travelling Safely programme, formerly Spaces for People.
The group cites the positive impacts of more active travel on health, inequality, air quality and in tackling the climate crisis, amongst other benefits.
In June, Transport and Environment Committee approved proposals to retain some of the schemes on an experimental basis, to remove others post-pandemic and to engage further with communities on options for a handful of measures.
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener said:
The collective voice of this wide range of medical and health professionals is incredibly welcome. We’ve been vocal about our commitment to encourage travel by foot, wheel or bike, and the benefits this brings, but to have the support of the medical profession demonstrates just how crucial investment in safe, protected routes is.
Over the last year and a half we’ve introduced changes which have helped many people to feel newly confident about walking, cycling and wheeling safely. There are, of course, tens of thousands of people in Edinburgh who don’t have access to a car. We now have the opportunity to extend the lifespan of many of these measures and to improve upon them so that they work for as many people as possible.
The evidence is clear and well expressed in this letter – there’s so much to gain from active travel, in terms of health, quality of life and in limiting our impact on the climate. We simply cannot return to the status quo, where private car journeys dominate the streets. By retaining the majority of schemes introduced through Spaces for People, we’re laying the foundations for a happier, healthier future for everyone here.
Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, said:
It’s indisputable that walking, wheeling or cycling, whether for leisure or commuting, has a positive impact on our health, our state of mind and our pockets, as well as the air we breathe. We wholeheartedly recognise and support these calls to retain and expand on the measures we’ve introduced during the pandemic.
Temporary protected cycle lanes, widened pavements and quiet routes have helped families to walk safely to school, shoppers to spend time strolling through some of our iconic city centre streets and people trying out cycling for the first time. We really want to continue delivering these benefits, and we’ll be working hard to make sure the measures we have kept do just that.