Let’s go to Perth to see how a town centre can thrive without traffic. It’s Saturday, the sun is shining, the pan pipes are playing and on the seafood stall huge crabs seem to send a cheery V sign to shoppers passing by. Perth Farmer’s Market is going like a fair bang smack in the middle of a pedestrian precinct.
Hard to believe this is really Perth. I have a soft spot for the place which is full of family memories going back more than 30 years: weddings, births, deaths, funerals and reunions; Christmas shopping, bar lunches, the whiff of hospital wards and church flowers. But nostalgia is fading. While I’ve been getting older the Fair City has had a face lift, or maybe more a make-over. At any rate something very interesting is happening to the streets I used to drive round with mum and dad. For a start, these streets are now for pedestrians only.
Perth has become confidently car-free through most of the town centre and it doesn’t seem to be hurting the traders one bit. Pedestrians stroll through welcoming streets, pavement cafes fill squares which used to be parking places, live music happens not just inside but all around the brand new Concert Hall.
The monthly Farmer’s Market seems all the more bustling because it takes place right next to the High Street shops. And (Edinburgh please note) in this relaxed environment shoppers obviously cope with being able to walk a little further to their cars.
Edinburgh Farmer’s Market rightly wins prizes but the city is still in thrall to the motor car. Perth deserves an award for an altogether more enlightened approach to urban landscaping.
No sweat: street art in Perth High Street