April 2023

#SpokesMtg, May 24: “A City where you Don’t Need a Car”

Edinburgh City is consulting on a new Active Travel Action Plan (ATAP) and a series of other Mobility Plan ‘delivery documents’ (web links below) all aimed to support Edinburgh NetZero 2030, and a 30% reduction in car-km by 2030. Our public meeting will hear from the Council, followed by an expert critique, and then there’s a full hour panel discussion – your opportunity to challenge the speakers.

There is now a full video recording of the meeting on our youtube channel here.

Do the delivery plans live up to the Council’s ambition to cut car-km 30% by 2030, alongside greatly increased travel by foot, bike and public transport? Will they enable more people to live car-free? Will they lead to speedy implementation? Our meeting is your opportunity to find out!


  • Cllr Scott Arthur, Edinburgh City Transport Convener – the Council’s intent
  • Phil Noble, Strategy Manager for Active Travel and Streetspace – more detail on the policy delivery documents, including ATAP
  • Adrian Davis, Professor of Transport & Health at Napier Transport Research Institute – he will critique the policies – are they sufficiently ambitious? will they work?
  • … followed by our one-hour panel QA, chaired by Dr Caroline Brown, Spokes member, Transform Scotland policy adviser, transport academic – your chance to interrogate and challenge the speakers


  • Latest: Find our livestream to the meeting here
  • Where Augustine United Church 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EL
  • Date Weds 24 May
  • Time  Starts 7.30, Ends 9.30.  Doors open 6.45 for coffee, stalls and chat
  • Queries & Questions Queries, or questions for the speaker, can be emailed to spokes@spokes.org.uk. However, questions in person from audience members are likely to have greatest priority on the night
  • Online We hope to live broadcast on our youtube channel – details here nearer the time. We also intend to make the recording available a few days later
  • Membership There’ll be a stall to join Spokes, or renew your membership, at the meeting
  • NB: Apologies for our lack of gender-balance; a council speaker was swapped after the meeting was fixed. However, Caroline, chairing the panel, will doubtless ensure comprehensive coverage of all issues.

The ambition “to create a city where you don’t need to own a car to get around,” mentioned in several of the documents (e.g. Parking Action Plan, p8) is very welcome, for reasons of climate, public health, congestion and equalities. Such an ambition is also essential if the Council is to achieve its ultra-tough target to reduce car-km 30% by 2030.

A top cycling takeaway from the draft ATAP is the new focus on main road segregated routes. It says [chap 5], “The (off road) traffic-free routes will continue to play a vital role, and we will seek to improve their comfort,safety and security. However, we now plan to develop a joined-up network of routes that feel safe to everyone at all times of day. This network will need to use segregated cycle tracks on main roads, as well as unsegregated on-street routes that have low volumes of motor traffic.

The three highlighted phrases above [our emphases] neatly summarise important major developments, which we strongly welcome, in the Council’s approach to cycling policy, and we urge determined implementation.

The Consultation

The online survey (which closes 9 July 2023) is at consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/cmp. Please do respond.

However the questionnaire is at a high level – it just asks one or two questions about the topics covered by each of the draft delivery plan documents, and does not even include links to them! Also, there is only one free-text question, so there’s the usual danger of the ‘consultation’ being taken as a referendum rather than a seeking of comments and suggestions. Similar ‘numeric’ ‘consultations’ in the past seriously under-represented some categories, including younger and older people.

Further consultation methods are promised however, including public drop-ins, but nothing had been announced as of 21 April. Our public meeting is the best opportunity we know of so far!!

The draft Policy Delivery documents

In addition to the above, please do email your comments on any of the individual delivery documents, such as ATAP – we give links to them below.

Comments should be sent to spatial.policy@edinburgh.gov.uk.

There is also a summary of some of the Action Plans, with links to all, in this Council news release (27.1.23).

The draft documents were approved for consultation, some at the February Transport and Environment Committee (TEC) and others at December TEC.

You can see our initial Spokes thoughts on the policy documents, particularly the Active Travel Action Plan, ATAP, and links to all the documents, here.

The new administration is undertaking this one jumbo consultation, rather than the previous approach of a series of separate consultations, so that the Council’s detailed transport intentions will be finalised as early as possible in its 5-year term of office. Hopefully this will give more time to concentrate on implementation – doubtless there’ll be some strong questions on timing at the public meeting!

  • Active Travel Action Plan – a major revision on the existing 2016 ATAP. “The biggest and boldest in Scotlandaccording to Cllr Arthur. See the short paragraph quoted at the start of this article, denoting the new top focus on segregated main road cycle provision.
  • Circulation Plan – a major document which is expected to evolve further, showing what transport modes will have what level of priority on what roads [Dec 2022 draft plan; Feb 2023 developments]. This document is of major importance because… “The Circulation Plan will form a strategic framework for all relevant investment programmes, including the major junctions review, the delivery of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, the road and footways renewals programme and the citywide roll-out of School Streets.” Whilst we welcome the concept of the plan, we have two major concerns at this (early) stage
  • Public Transport Priority Action Plandraft approved for consultation at Feb TEC
  • Parking Action Plandraft approved for consultation at Feb TEC
  • Road Safety Action Plandraft approved for consultation at Dec TEC
  • Air Quality Action Plan (revision) draft approved for consultation at Dec TEC

What you can do

  • Please help publicise our public meeting by passing on the link, share on facebook and retweeting here
  • Respond to the online consultation above – and think carefully for your top issues for the free-text question at the end of the survey
  • Look at the draft delivery documents, particularly the draft ATAP, and email your comments on any of the documents to spatial.policy@edinburgh.gov.uk, copied to spokes@spokes.org.uk. Your comments may be very helpful to inform the spokes response too.
The 2016 ATAP [click pic to download] – the 2023 draft represents a major change of emphasis

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