I love Fleet Street Fox, I really do, but her blogpost making fun of cyclists and complaining that if you’re squished by a bus you should have been wearing a helmet wasn’t her finest hour.
Jon Snow of Channel 4 has done a five-minute film partly with a helmet-cam of what it’s like cycling in London. He admits near the start that he runs red lights to get ahead of the traffic because the secret to survival is making sure you’re seen.
Leith Walk and Constitution Street have indeed suffered from the trams over the past five years. We’ve lost the bronze pigeons, Sherlock Holmes, quite a few businesses have closed down…. it’s a mess. Edinburgh Council has a vision and 3.4 million, which carefully and sensibly spent might make this one of the finest streets in Edinburgh. (But who trusts the council to spend sensibly and with regard for what people want?)
Besides, there’s a million pounds worth of work to be done fixing the roads before the “vision” work can start.
I wrote in March:
Leith Walk is one of the most characterful, the richest in variety and busy with local businesses and people who live and work there. I want Edinburgh Council to treasure what the city has. I don’t believe they do.
Ray Perman wrote in May last year:
The Walk is wide enough to have a broad central reservation with shrubs and trees – like the one which runs along the broader part of East Claremont Street. But what do we have instead? The cheapest, nastiest black rubber blocks, bolted together. If they weren’t ugly enough, they are flanked by unnecessary white lines, hatched on the road. For what? To deter motorists from parking in the middle of the road?
The whole effect is ghastly, but just think what Leith Walk could become. Continue reading
Leith Walk is the longest street in Edinburgh and the one with the most character. It’s one of the most multicultural areas in Edinburgh. There are about eight supermarkets on Leith Walk and a few chain shops and franchises, and the usual array of charity shops and some ugly new pawnshops and moneylenders, but there’s also a host of local businesses, including some which are the best in Edinburgh for what they sell: Scottish scones and cake, Mexican food, Polish bread, Sicilian pastries, Bangladesh curries, Chinese markets, Italian coffee, Tattie Shaws for fruit and veg, furniture, clothes, electronics, books, art, music, excellent pubs, several cybercafes all of which provide good quality Internet, ranging from the very basic to the positively luxurious – Leith Walk is great.
And Edinburgh Council has treated it like crap.
The roads are in a state not even justified by the trams. The pavements are broken and unmended. There’s state-sponsored graffiti warning us that we’re in danger of being stabbed. It’s even difficult to cross the road.
I walk into Real Foods probably a couple of times a month – to buy bread-making supplies, or half a kilo of the gorgeous dark chewy organic unsulphured apricots that taste more intense that the squishy bright orange variety, or pick out some rosemary or oregano from the deep drawers at the back of the shop, or refresh my spice supply from the alphabetically-ordered shelves to the right of the door, past the shelves of gluten-free flours, next to enough organic fair trade coffee to keep the Incredible Hulk awake for a week… I’ve been shopping there since they opened: though I admit 37 years ago I was probably more interested in their supplies of organic and dairy-free sweets and chocolates than anything else.
On 6th September 2011, Edinburgh Council suddenly noticed that a shop in Broughton Street, part of a terraced classical tenement, listed Category A, located within the New Town Conservation Area and the Edinburgh World Heritage Site, had signage which would have an effect “on the character of the building as one of special architectural or historic interest.” So they issued a formal notice to have the signage taken down.
This is bad news for Cafe Piccante, which has been displaying bright neon advertising for their fast food: