Now’s the time for a car-free Holyrood Park

Having car free roads in the park has made people feel safer, more active and ready to explore the outdoors, says Lorna Slater MSP

During the Covid lockdowns, Holyrood Park became a lifeline for many in our city.

I, for one, felt very fortunate to be so near to such a stunning and beautiful green space.

It is a special place and plays a very unique role in our city, providing a big calming oasis of peace, tranquility and nature in an otherwise bustling city centre.

One of the things that made a big difference during lockdown was the removal of cars. When they returned to the road it brought back a lot of the noise and pollution that had, temporarily been, peaceful.

That’s why I was so interested to read the latest traffic management survey from Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Almost 4,000 people took part in the study, with almost two thirds of respondents saying that they would like to see further road closures for vehicles in Holyrood Park.

Having car free roads has made people feel safer, more active and ready to explore the outdoors.

As one resident commented “Please keep all the roads closed in Holyrood Park at all times. I want to let my 2 and 4 year old run around without fear of being hit by cars, give them space to scoot and trike.”

This response, and the many like it, underlined that a significant reduction in car use can will open up the park for so many more people.

Over recent months I have met with representatives of HES and others to discuss the ways in which we can work together to build a Park that can serve as a beacon for inclusive access, wellbeing and sustainability.

These goals are shared by the many constituents who have contacted me about the closure of the High Road, round past Dunsapie Loch, and the Low Road that runs between the Commonwealth Pool roundabout and Duddingston.

They told me that because of the road closures they were able to walk, wheel or cycle till their hearts were content.

The HES survey shows that some respondents feel that ‘for less mobile users, the road closures have made certain parts of the park inaccessible to them, as they are not in a position to walk the distance.’

One way to overcome this could be through the use of trishaws. Earlier this year, my team met with campaigners from Car Free Holyrood, which is a group of local residents who are working with Cycling Without Age Scotland to begin a trial of trishaw passenger carts in the park.

If HES backs the trial, and if it is successful, campaigners hope a permanent chapter can be set up to provide free trishaw rides.
It is key that our vision aligns with local residents and people who use the park. In the new year I will be meeting with stakeholders, to discuss ways to make the park greener, safer and more accessible for all.

I would be really interested in your feedback. If you use Holyrood Park please contact my team and let us know how it can be even more special.