Edinburgh joins Open Streets movement to go car-free

Edinburgh open streets

Edinburgh is the first city in the UK to join the Open Streets movement, closing city centre streets at certain times to help clean up air quality.

Victoria Street, Cockburn Street and Canongate will be closed to motorised traffic between the hours of 12:00 and 17:00 on the first Sunday of every month. It will continue for 18 months as a trial.

To encourage drivers to leave their cars at home, the city’s cycle hire scheme has been free all week (May 6 – May 12).

“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,” said Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council’s transport and environment convener.

“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.”

The Edinburgh event was celebrated on Sunday with a badminton net going up across Canongate, while Tai Chi was practised on the High Street.

What is the Open Streets movement?

Edinburgh open streets

The Open Streets movement is a push to close off certain areas of urban environments to motorised traffic, in order to clean up the air and encourage a healthier lifestyle. ‘People traffic replaces car traffic’ as all polluting machines are banned for a certain time.

The idea has been utilised across the world. During ‘Open Streets’ periods, events and gatherings are held. Either to promote healthy living, or to simply make use of the space that would otherwise be packed with machinery.