Last week Greener Leith submitted a response to the City of Edinburgh Council transport consultation on “issues for review.”
We backed council proposals for:
- 20mph speed limits on main shopping streets, emphasising local support for this on Leith Walk.
- More action to improve air quality.
- Improvements to the way parking is regulated in the city centre – and calling for parking to be managed better on Leith Walk too.
- Support for regular temporary road closures to support “school streets.”
This last proposal might be news to some people. In the council document, officials propose that some streets outside schools could be closed to traffic for 20-30 minutes at school start and finish times, “to create a safer, more pleasant environment for children immediately around the school.”
Whilst this might be a useful measure for some schools, we also called on the council to go further. We proposed that councillors might also consider following the lead set by Bristol, where the council now grants Temporary Play Street Orders too. These Temporary Play Street Orders allows local residents to close residential streets for short periods on a monthly or weekly basis to allow children to play outdoors without fear of being run-over.
As most schools in Edinburgh finish at lunchtime on Friday, it would be interesting to explore whether a series of Friday afternoon play streets could encourage more school pupils to play outside. In a place like Leith, with a high population density, and a relatively low amount of public green space, it could be a winner.
After a year long trial in Bristol, an evaluation reports that around 500 children had benefited from the initiative and those children were all more likely to be physically active – but that it also helps to build community too. The idea is beginning to spread in England, with moves now afoot to trial it in Worthing.
We remember how much people enjoyed it when closed The Shore to traffic for one afternoon on a Sunday. Could play streets in Leith be implemented on a regular basis?
We’ll be discussing this idea at our next public meeting on Tuesday the 26th of March. If you would like to trial a temporary play street where you live please consider coming to the meeting, or if you can’t make it to the meeting you can get in touch here.