What is the campaign asking for?
The campaign is seeking to end motorised through-traffic in Holyrood Park. The road network includes Queens Drive, Duddingston Low Road, and the High Road. The campaign does not include calling for the section by Scottish Parliament and Dynamic Earth to be car free, because it is the only road link to enter Holyrood Road. The campaign also isn’t calling for the closure of car parks, but we are calling for more accessible parking bays to be added to all carparks.
Why are you campaigning for 24/7 vehicle closure? What about campaigning for smaller changes: speed restrictions; more closures on the weekdays or evenings; improving crossings; signage to discourage commercial vehicles from using the park?
We think ending access for motorised through-traffic in Holyrood Park 24/7 is the best solution for three reasons:
- It’s cheap. We have to be realistic that Historic Environment Scotland is a public body with a limited and stretched budget. This means that lots of physical changes, like speed bumps or widening pavement could not be funded by Historic Environment Scotland without seeking external funding, a lengthy and uncertain process. The infrastructure for a car free park is already in place and wouldn’t require elaborate funding applications. The gates to close the park roads to motor vehicles have been in place for years and used every Sunday. We’ve called for minor adjustments to the gates in order to allow mobility scooters, wheelchairs and accessible cycles through, but the costs of such a change are minimal.
- It requires no physical alterations. Holyrood Park is a scheduled monument and SSSI, which means that any physical changes to the park have to go through several levels of approval, another lengthy and uncertain process which may not allow interventions due to the fragile habitat. Indeed, HES have already ruled out installing lighting, traffic lights, speed readers, and permanent signage due to the scheduled monument status and budgetary priorities. It’s clear that any solutions will need to require almost no physical changes.
- It solves the root issue, rather than the symptoms. If we look to make motor vehicle entrances more people friendly by adding table crossings or widen pavements or reduce traffic speed, we may make some improvement, but it does not recognise that the very reason these are an issue at all is because motor vehicles are invited to take a scenic short cut at speed through a park directly into the city centre during a climate emergency.
We don’t need to spend loads of money and lots of time finding funding and adding asphalt to an SSSI and heritage site in order to solve this issue. Instead we need to use the infrastructure we have in place smarter, using the paved, accessible space, for people to walk, wheel and cycle in Holyrood Park.
Why haven’t Historic Environment Scotland closed the roads to vehicles already?
Over time, the reasons HES have given for why the road must remain open to motor vehicles have changed, but the latest correspondence cites three main reasons:
- Traffic: Historic Environment Scotland claims that as the city has developed around the park, insufficient vehicle capacity has been factored into the city management. Therefore, they say, they must work with the Council on any changes and believe there will be traffic displaced to surrounding neighbourhoods. However, studies have shown that consistent, long term road capacity changes do not result in higher levels of traffic, but rather that traffic levels remain largely similar. Indeed, Historic Environment Scotland is currently expanding road capacity in Edinburgh by allowing motor traffic to use their private roads, meaning that there are more cars on the road causing more emissions in a concept known as induced demand. Reducing road capacity by ending motorised through-traffic in Holyrood Park would ultimately result in fewer emissions and similar levels of traffic in the neighbourhood.
- Emergency vehicles access: Historic Environment Scotland claims that closing the roads to motor traffic would impact emergency vehicle access. However, many rescues and emergency responses have been managed in Holyrood Park during the 24/7 High Road closure as well as during Saturday and Sunday full park road vehicle closures. With adequate barriers such as bendy bollards which allow large vehicles like ambulances to pass, this could be managed.
- Access for disabled park users: Historic Environment Scotland have previously said that the roads should remain open for people with or without a blue badge in order for them to be able to enjoy the park while using their car as a mobility aid. The Car Free Holyrood Park campaign is committed to equitable and inclusive access in Holyrood Park so everyone can enjoy the peace and wellbeing benefits of a park visit and we’ve written two extensive blogs about this (Part 1 and Part 2). In the series, we explain why allowing motor vehicles through the park isn’t inclusive or equitable and lay out a possible vision to extend inclusive access to all park users regardless of whether they arrive with a car. This vision, modelled on successful schemes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Countryside Mobility South West includes the free hire of different mobility equipment including mobility scooters, wheelchair power attachments, and accessible cycles. This would not require physical changes and volunteers from Car Free Holyrood Park are willing and able to give their time to increase HES capacity and help turn that vision into a reality.
How can I support the campaign?
- Write to the Rangers (firstname.lastname@example.org)! It can be really short, just explain why you want a car free park. Let them know if you’re a local resident too and cc in your councillors if you can.
- Write to your councillors (find out who your councillors are here) directly, especially if they are in Craigentinny/Duddingston ward! Again, you can keep it simple and tell them why you support the campaign and ask what they can do to support.
- Write to your MSPs (find out who your MSPs are here), especially if you live in Edinburgh Central or Edinburgh Eastern, and ask how they can help.
- Follow us on Twitter (@carfreeholyrood) and join the Facebook group!
- Got an idea for a campaign action? Great! Let us know by email (email@example.com) or on the Facebook group.