Government strategies suggest that there is the political will to reduce the number of journeys made by car. There is an acceptance that “good street design can promote a better quality of living for everyone” and additionally, that high quality soft measures such as travel plans and the provision of comprehensive travel information provide excellent value for money. These measures are seen as the way forward for sustainable transport by the UK and Scottish Governments, but it is also noted that supportive policies such as public transport improvements, pedestrianisation, parking controls and cycle networks would be required to ensure that traffic reductions are permanent.
There are many European examples of car free city centres which offer high quality routes for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Although Dunbar is small, ideas can be adapted from these projects. Greater priority must be given to non-car travel, removal of unnecessary visual and physical clutter, and creation of shared spaces where pedestrians and cyclists can feel safe.
Local trends suggest that people in Ward 7 walk and cycle more than anywhere in East Lothian, yet this is despite of, not because of local conditions. The joint initiative between Dunbar Primary School and Sustaining Dunbar’s Transport Group to promote cycling and walking to school has been very successful and a major target should be to ensure that the very high level of children cycling to primary school is retained to grammar school and beyond.
Dunbar requires a cohesive network of attractive cycle and pedestrian routes and a useful local bus service. The compact nature of the town and local facilities is such that most destinations would be within easy reach on foot or by bike, and the need to drive would be much reduced. The surrounding rural settlements deserve an improved bus service including links to the mainline train station in Dunbar and safer cycle and pedestrian routes.
High quality information about the various options is also of the utmost importance in Dunbar. Route maps for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport users showing existing routes, distances, timetables, fares and the location of bus stops are urgently required. Only then will walking, cycling and public transport begin to be seen as viable options for day to day travel. The preparation of aspirational route maps will enable meaningful input to the planning process and bring forward a sustainable transport network which will lead to many benefits; less CO2 and pollution, improved health, friendlier and safer communities with less dependence on the car.