Thursday, 21 May 2015

Avoid, Shift, Improve: The Musselburgh Transport Mess

Transport within and through Musselburgh is a messy affair. You'd think East Lothian's biggest town, on the doorstep of Edinburgh, would be well served. In many ways, it is but it's also struggling to cope with its unique position, and there's huge potential going to waste.

For some years now I've been campaigning on the issue of air pollution in the town centre. I notice CCTV cameras have now appeared, monitoring traffic flows. I remain to be convinced that will be helpful. The majority of the traffic in Musselburgh is passing through, so we need to find out where it's coming from/going to and why the alternatives aren't being used by these motorists. We also need to get the bus companies to make their fleets less polluting. There are 500 buses a day along Musselburgh High Street.

I recently spoke to a crew from Edinburgh College making a film about the problem. It's an issue I intend to keep pushing on, given the impact on public health, not to mention the general ambience of our town centre. It should be a place to linger, spend time. At the moment it feels like somewhere you either sit in traffic fuming or scurry along on foot trying not to inhale the fumes!

When we look at other towns and cities around the world and how they have tackled similar problems we see they have pursued three main themes, and we should start to think how these could be applied in the Honest Toun:

Avoid the problem - Can we create more local jobs, services and shops in East Lothian to avoid the need for commuting through Musselburgh into Edinburgh?

Shift the problem - How do we make it easier to walk and cycle rather than drive through our town and between neighbouring communities? How do we make fast, affordable, pleasant bus and train journeys the easy option?

Improve the problem - To my mind this brings us back to buses. We need low emissions vehicles to replace the ageing "belchers".

Other ideas welcome!


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