Streets in Edinburgh closed to vehicles to cut air pollution

Roads in the centre of Edinburgh closed to traffic for the first time as the city joined the worldwide Open Streets movement to reduce air pollution.

Pedestrians and cyclists were able to enjoy exploring the historic Old Town which was shut to motorised vehicles between midday and 5pm on Sunday.

Open air yoga and giant chess games were among the activities on offer, while there were also music performances, Tai Chi on the High Street and electronic bike trials on Victoria Street.

The Open Streets initiative has seen cities around the world temporarily opening streets to people by closing them to cars, vans and other motorised vehicles on a regular basis.

The City of Edinburgh Council said it is the first city in the UK to join the Open Streets movement.

Open Streets in Edinburgh will take place on the first Sunday of every month as part of an 18-month trial.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “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.

“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.

“We are wholeheartedly committed to creating an accessible, sustainable and people-friendly city and I look forward to seeing lots of residents and visitors enjoying all that’s on offer on 5 May against a cleaner, more welcoming traffic-free backdrop.”

The streets closed included High Street, Cockburn Street, Grassmarket, Lawnmarket and Victoria Street.