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Investing in accessible streets for everyone

The City of Edinburgh Council has reaffirmed its commitment to safer, more accessible footways with a boost in funding for measures to improve pavements and footpaths. 

Last month councillors agreed to take Transport for All’s Equal Pavements Pledge, which aims to enhance footways for those with disabilities through a series of actions. These include keeping streets clear of clutter, installing dropped kerbs for step-free access and protecting disabled parking bays.

On Thursday (October 14) thee Transport and Environment Committee will consider the revised Active Travel Investment Programme.

Among the updates is an investment of £1.82m up to 2025/26 in a dropped kerbs and raised crossings programme, on which more than £350k will be spent each year.

As well as several major projects that will provide improved access for pedestrians, wheelchair users and others with mobility issues. Around £50k a year will go towards smaller improvements to streets, like the removal of non-accessible chicane gates on paths and widened off-road routes.

people walking on pathway near buildings and different vehicles on road under blue and white sky

Cllr Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said: ‘We want Edinburgh’s streets to be for everyone, and taking the Equal Pavements Pledge refocuses our commitment to providing safer, more accessible footways, particularly for those with disabilities.

‘There is clearly work to be done to improve our historic streets so that everyone can easily get from A to B and the pledge’s seven points demonstrate the kind of actions needed.

‘As part of our Active Travel Investment Programme we’re placing a real focus on measures to improve accessibility, in particular through investment of more than £1.8m over the next five years in dropped kerbs and raised crossings, in addition to several projects, big and small, across the city.

‘This will add to steps already taken to improve the conditions of our streets for those with mobility issues. Our citywide A-board ban has been welcomed by equalities groups for reducing street clutter and we’ve recently been working with Living Streets to identify non-essential street furniture for removal. We’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of crossing points across the city to identify locations where dropped kerbs are needed too.’

Katie Pennick, Transport for All campaigns lead, said: ‘We are delighted that the City of Edinburgh Council has taken our Equal Pavements Pledge, committing to seven simple promises to ensure our streets are accessible to everyone.

‘From narrow uneven walkways to steep kerbs, disabled people face many barriers while navigating the streets of Edinburgh. We look forward to seeing the progress and supporting the City of Edinburgh Council as they deliver on the pledge and enable disabled people to use their local streets with independence and ease.’

In 2018 the council introduced a citywide A-board ban to create safer, accessible streets, which has been welcomed by equalities groups for reducing street clutter. Over recent months it has been working with Living Streets to identify non-essential street furniture for removal.

The City Mobility Plan, Edinburgh’s ten-year transport strategy, contains a commitment to design and maintain paths and streets to maximise safety and accessibility for all needs and abilities. This means addressing issues such as route widths, gradients, clutter, barriers and surfacing.

Read the full report, Active Travel Investment Programme Update, here.

Photo Credit – Alana Harris

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