Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, a World Heritage Site, and a popular destination for both tourists and commuters. It is the hub of Scotland's road numbering system, with the A1, A7 and A8 all terminating at the junction of North Bridge and Princes Street near Waverley Station. The A9 also originally terminated nearby.
The historic centre of Edinburgh is famed for its street layout. The Old Town is constructed with dense high-rise housing either side of the spine of the Royal Mile (comprising the High Street and Canongate) which runs east-west from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence in Edinburgh. The Old Town lies on a ridge which is linked to the rest of the city by a number of bridges of which the main ones are: the North Bridge and The Mound to the north, and the South Bridge and George IV Bridge to the south. The North and South Bridges, often known simply as The Bridges, form part of the A7.
The oldest part of Edinburgh's New Town is laid out in a grid, considered an exceptional example of Georgian town planning. The southernmost road is Princes Street, historically the end of the A8 to Glasgow. Today most motor vehicles are banned from this street, except buses and taxis, and the main east-west route for cars is Queen Street to the north. Edinburgh is often considered hostile to the motorist, with its compact centre more suitable to navigation on foot; bicycles are problematic due to its hilliness though there have been intermittent attempts at making the city more cycle friendly with good routes in some directions, mainly along old railways and the Union Canal, but some awkward gaps.
The historic centre is surrounded by a number of old villages which are now incorporated into the city, such as Colinton, Corstorphine, Canonmills, Stockbridge, Cramond, and Dean Village. The northern edge of Edinburgh is the Firth of Forth (i.e. estuary of the River Forth), once served by the ports of Granton, Newhaven, and Leith; none are much used these days, although cruise ships call at Leith. To the west of the city is Edinburgh airport, one of the UK's busiest. Edinburgh has a successful and popular bus network run by Lothian, one of the few publicly-owned bus operators remaining in the UK. It also has a rather limited tram line which runs from the airport to York Place in the east of the New Town. This proved expensive and controversial during construction with long delays and cost overruns necessitating scaling back the plans, and prospects for extension are uncertain.
Edinburgh has a modern, D2 grade separated bypass, the A720, connecting the A8 and A1 around the southern part of the city. This replaces the earlier southern ring road, now the B701, which used urban roads. The A902 and A199 together form a sort of northern bypass, from the A8 at Maybury Junction through Barnton Junction, Crewe Toll, Leith and Portobello, mostly on 30-limit urban roads. Within those, the B900 and B700/A700 approximately bypass the city centre to the north and south: the former is a jagged patchwork from Craigleith to Leith, and the latter includes Morrison Street from Haymarket and Melville Drive through the Meadows.
Edinburgh grew rapidly in the 1920s and 30s, and much of the outlying road network dates to this era, such as Maybury Road (A902) and Telford Road (originaly A982), as well as now-closed sections like the A9 from Maybury.
After World War 2, from the 1949 Civic Survey and Plan, there were various exotic plans for urban motorways through the centre of Edinburgh, including various ideas for inner ring roads with a mix of underground and elevated sections, none of which came to be. The contrast with Glasgow is obvious.
Edinburgh was conceived as the hub of Scotland's motorway system, but initially none of the roads got very close. The M8 got to Newbridge in 1971, but no closer for a long time; by 1972 the M9 ran from Newbridge to south of Stirling; the M90 remained in Fife; and there is no M7.
The A720 bypass was built from 1980 to 1990. This was followed by the M8 extension to the bypass in 1995 and then the grade-separated link from the M9 to the Forth Road Bridge followed in stages (now part of the M90).
In 2005 Edinburgh held a referendum on introducing a Congestion Charge. This would have required payments for entering an outer cordon (akin to the area enclosed by the bypass) during the morning rush hour, and for entering the city centre (roughly the Old Town and first New Town) from 7am to 6.30pm. But 74.4% of people voted against. The plans would have (theoretically) paid for 3 tram lines, but instead Edinburgh council proceeded with a more modest tram system, which was further stripped down as costs rose. Edinburgh's tram line finally opened on 31 May 2014 from Edinburgh Airport to York Place.
|Glasgow, Airport, Stirling||Glasgow partly via M8, Stirling via M9|
|Jedburgh, Galashiels||Galashiels via A6091|
|Livingston||Goes to Kilmarnock|
|Forth Road Bridge|
|Carlisle||Via A74(M) and M6. Main west coast route to England.|
|City Bypass (western section)|
|Peebles, Penicuik||Peebles is accessed via the A703|
|Royal Botanic Gardens|
|Glasgow (M8), Stirling (M9), Livingston (A71)||Alternative route out of city centre for light vehicles. Runs on a former railway.|
|Stirling||Now unclassified (and buried under Edinburgh Airport), B9080 and A803|