Welcome to Living Streets Edinburgh

Edinburgh, with its generally dense population and walkable distances, could be a European exemplar of a pedestrian-friendly city. But the many sensible walking-related policies of the City of Edinburgh Council too often don’t translate in practice into a safe and attractive walking environment on the streets. Motor traffic continues to dominate the vast majority of the city’s streets – yet there are clear economic, environmental and social benefits in prioritising pedestrian movement within a high-quality public realm.

Despite the many barriers to walking, 35% of journeys by Edinburgh residents are still made on foot, and the Living Streets Edinburgh Group is engaging strongly with the Council, pressing for the pedestrian environment to enjoy the kind of prioritisation given to cycling expenditure – now due to rise to 10% of the Council’s transport budget.

Our overall aim is to:
Promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh.

To this end, we want to see:

  • walking given the top priority over other forms of travel in all council transport and planning policies;
  • a reduction in the volume of motorised traffic and its impact on people using the street;
  • better designed and maintained pavements, road crossings and other pedestrian facilities;
  • more effective and joined-up monitoring and inspection of the walking environment by CEC;
  • planning policy which encourages dense, sustainable housing over car-dominated development;
  • more effective implementation of pro-walking policies ‘on the ground’.

Our priorities for action in 2016-17 are to:

  • campaign for increased budgets (capital and staffing) for the pedestrian environment by CEC;
  • influence the annual CEC capital maintenance programme, to maximise the benefits for walkers;
  • support the 20 mph initiative, effectively enforced;
  • campaign for a fundamental review of CEC’s policy on ‘A-boards’ and other street clutter;
  • support the development of pedestrian-friendly cycle infrastructure;
  • support location-specific campaigns including George Street, Holyrood Park and the Cowgate;
  • grow the number of our supporters and campaigners.


New building works by Edinburgh’s busy Morrison Street are a danger to pedestrians, says the campaigning group Living Streets [1]. As part of work on a new retail and office development on the old Morrison Street goods yard, the City of Edinburgh Council has closed the pavement on the south side of Morrison Street, forcing people on foot to make five separate pedestrian crossings rather than two previously.

Pedestrians are already using a short-cut along the narrowed vehicle carriageway [2, for photos below], and Living Streets has urged the Council [3] to provide a temporary pavement on the south side of Morrison Street ‘before an accident happens’. Noting that Morrison Street is ‘one of the busiest peak-time pedestrian thoroughfares in the city’, the group say they have raised problems like this across the city many times over the years, and are frustrated that ‘pedestrians remain resolutely at the bottom of the Council’s transport priority list.’ The Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh Group, David Spaven, commented:

‘We have lost count of the number of times we have had to raise with the City Council the problems caused for pedestrians by building works and road works – and the situation is even worse for folk with disabilities. Vehicles are routinely given priority during temporary reconfiguration of the streets, with the convenience and safety of the pedestrian – the most vulnerable street user – left as a complete after-thought. We can only conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong at the heart of the Council’s management. We also consider that the failure to provide adequate crossing facilities for disabled people is a breach of legal obligations.’

Living Streets have also commented in their letter to the Council that:

‘To add long-term insult to short-term injury, we understand that the pedestrian crossing of Dalry Road, just left of the junction with Morrison Street (which currently lies on the ‘desire line’ for pedestrians heading from [Haymarket] station to Morrison Street) is to be shifted southwards to the narrow pavement adjacent to the gable end of Ryrie’s pub, because the Morrison Street developer wants to maximise footfall through the retail development. This is the private profit tail wagging the public interest dog.’

The campaign group have urged action on both fronts from the Council, asking it to (i) install a temporary pavement on the south side of the remaining Morrison Street carriageway, and (ii) to revisit the ‘crass’ decision to relocate the Dalry Road pedestrian crossing.

MORE INFO: David Spaven on 0131-447-7764 / 07917-877399



 [1] Living Streets Edinburgh is the local voluntary arm of the national charity which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday’ walking.

[2] See photos below email below to Cllrs Hinds and McVey, Convener and Vice-Convener of the Transport and Environment Committee.

[3] Living Streets Edinburgh 07/02/2017 message to Cllr Hinds and McVey – headed ‘YET MORE INCONVENIENCE AND DANGER FOR EDINBURGH PEDESTRIANS’ – and copied to other Transport and Environment Committee councillors, and local councillors, is below:


Cllr Hinds / Cllr McVey

Yet again, Living Streets has to report new building works in Edinburgh which are causing inconvenience and danger to the pedestrian – the most vulnerable street user. The latest example is on Morrison Street – one of the busiest peak-time pedestrian thoroughfares in the city (leading to and from Haymarket station) – where the pavement on the south side has been entirely removed as part of the adjacent retail and office development works. The diversionary route involves five separate pedestrian crossings rather than two, unless of course people risk life and limb by walking on the carriageway, as they have done in a couple of the photos below. We also consider that the failure to provide adequate crossing facilities for disabled people is a breach of legal obligations.

We have raised this kind of problem with the City Council many times over recent years, but it would appear that pedestrians remain resolutely at the bottom of the Council’s transport priority list. The Council had to approve the Section 59 Traffic Management Plan which goes with the building development permit, and we assume that this incorporated a temporary pavement for the major pedestrian flow on the south side of the street. If not, it clearly should have done.

To add long-term insult to short-term injury, we understand that the pedestrian crossing of Dalry Road, just left of the junction with Morrison Street (which currently lies on the ‘desire line’ for pedestrians heading from the station to Morrison Street) is to be shifted southwards, by the narrow pavement adjacent to the gable end of Ryrie’s pub, because the Morrison Street developer wants to maximise footfall through the retail development. This is the private profit tail wagging the public interest dog.

Can you supply us with a copy of the approved Traffic Management Plan as agreed as part of the Section 59 permit process? Before an accident happens, can you also please arrange for installation of a temporary pavement on the south side of the remaining Morrison Street carriageway? And can you revisit the crass decision to relocate the Dalry Road pedestrian crossing?

In view of our continuing frustration with the Council’s evident inability to change course on pedestrian priority, we are copying this correspondence directly to the Edinburgh Evening News and STV.


David Spaven

Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group

 Photos of Morrison Street, looking towards Haymarket, taken 07/02/2017 (off-peak):


Living Streets Edinburgh Manifesto for Walking

With Council elections taking place on 4 May 2017, Living Streets Edinburgh is asking all political parties to include measures in their manifestos that will make walking in Edinburgh safer, easier and more enjoyable. Edinburgh is a naturally ‘walkable’ city but conditions for pedestrians are often wholly inadequate. Yet despite barriers to walking almost every one walks.

We want City of Edinburgh Council to build on this and to support our aim to make Edinburgh a truly world class city for people walking.
Here are our four ‘big ideas’ :

  • Transform Street Management
  • Invest Much More in Walking
  • Make a Comprehensive Traffic Plan for the City Centre
  • Pedestrianise George Street




Response to consultation on Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route proposal

You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route

We welcome the measures included in this proposal to improve walking, although these are often fragmented and largely incidental to the continuous corridor-based approach to the cycling design – a particular example being the lack of continuous footways (avoiding changes of level for pedestrians) across side streets where they join the cycle corridor, despite this being a requirement of the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance (ESDG).

Worryingly, we have identified a number of other instances of the route design failing to comply with the ESDG. A fundamental principle of all such schemes is that designs should explicitly conform to the ESDG for the category/categories of street affected. Until the adoption of finalised Detailed Design Sheets for the ESDG, the latter’s Design Principles (as already adopted by the Council) should be adhered to, for example with regard to frequency of pedestrian crossing points, footway width, decluttering, crossfalls, improvements of currently sub-standard pedestrian crossing facilities and junction corner radii (amongst many other issues). These Principles are Council policy, and should also be adhered to in order to avoid the Council being subject to legal challenge under the Equality Act duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist protected groups.

We suggest that a workshop or seminar should be held in order to get the design right for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Key points of principle


  1. An increase (or no net loss) of pedestrian space.
  2. Footways meet recommended widths.
  3. Conflicts with cyclists are avoided, with dedicated and well-defined space provided for pedestrians (including separated ‘tiger’ crossings).


  1. Junctions make foot crossing easier by being raised, with radii of corners and widths minimised
  2. In busier areas, controlled crossings are provided in convenient places, with acceptable waiting and crossing times.
  3. Pedestrian priority is made clear at all the key crossing points of the cycle routes, eg with continuous footways across side streets at junctions.


  1. The design incorporates features to assist people with disabilities, including dropped kerbs (where continuous footways are not feasible), seating and tactile paving.

Public realm:

  1. The footway is made free from clutter.
  2. Guardrails are avoided / removed.

Impact of traffic:

  1. If the area is a residential or shopping street or busy pedestrian route the speed is 20mph and the design helps to achieve this speed.
  2. The level of parking and access to motor vehicles is appropriate and does not dominate the space.

You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route


LSE press statement on east – west cycle route through Roseburn

This is a lot more than a cycle route – it brings plenty of benefits for pedestrians too, in terms of safer junctions, wider pavements and more road crossings.

At an early stage of the consultation we were concerned with aspects of the design which would have caused conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, but we’ve been impressed by the way the Council took on board our constructive suggestions.

A key point is that the pavements will now be widened on both the north and south sides of the busy stretch of Roseburn Terrace, and they will both meet the minimum width standards stipulated in the Council’s own Street Design Guidance.

That will help to make Roseburn Terrace a more people-friendly place, less dominated by road vehicles.


Objection to redevelopment of Boroughmuir High School – excessive car parking

Living Streets Edinburgh has submitted an official objection to the redevelopment of Boroughmuir High School due to the planned excessive car parking (planning ref 16/04581/FUL).

The full plans can be viewed here – https://goo.gl/IJsiFB

boroughmuir-high-school-planWe object to the application on the grounds of excessive parking provision. The Transport Statement makes great play about how the proposed development supports the Council’s sustainable transport policies; however, we do not consider a development with 95 parking spaces to be consistent with the council’s transport and environmental objectives. The case made in the application comparing existing and projected traffic flows is spurious; obviously traffic generation will be totally different as it is no longer going to be a 1000+ pupil school. The application notes that it aims to achieve 68% of the permitted maximum; we propose on the contrary, that the development should be have the minimum permitted number of residents’ parking spaces (zero – i.e. a car-free development). Limited car parking for disabled people and visitors would be acceptable.

As the application notes, the site is extremely well-sited for travel by bus (eight frequent, regular services within three minutes’ walk), bicycle and on foot. The sustainability of the local Bruntsfield area will be enhanced by a car-free development which is actively aimed at people attracted to a car-free lifestyle. We strongly oppose the suggestion that there should be 16 new on-street parking spaces on Viewforth in addition, for the same reason. An option could be to site a car-club facility on or near the site.

The application incorrectly claims that the footways on Viewforth are at least 2m wide; in fact they are typically 1.8m on both sides (only wider at the Bruntsfield Place end and at one or two specific spots). The Council’s Street Design Guidance specifies the width for this kind of street as an “absolute minimum of 2m (only allowed in short sections), desirable minimum 2.5m or wider.” If the application were to be granted, the opportunity should therefore be taken to meet these standards in the vicinity of the development. Continuous pavements giving clear pedestrian priority (rather than dropped kerbs) should be provided on the Viewforth access points. The application also claims that there “no evidence of parked vehicles obstructing footway” (p8). This is patently not so and pavement parking is endemic at weekends and evenings owing to lack of TRO prohibitions. Again, if the application were to be granted, conditions should be attached to remedy this shortcoming.


A proposed change to the design of the planned Roseburn-Leith Walk segregated cycling route has been welcomed by the local walking campaign, Living Streets Edinburgh [1]. The City Council’s amended plan published on 21st June suggested two options to change the route design at Roseburn Terrace, both of which removed the controversial ‘floating bus stop’ on the north side of Roseburn Terrace. The Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Spaven, said:

“We’re pleased that the Council have taken note of our biggest concern about the Roseburn design – a floating bus stop at this busy location would have created unwelcome conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists at a busy location.”

However, the group are continuing to strongly oppose the Council’s plan to drive the cycle route along the centre of the busy east end of Princes Street pavement, arguing that “this would take space from pedestrians and would create unmanageable conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians, in which the most vulnerable street users would inevitably come off worst.”

Living Streets says it is “surprised and disappointed” that the Council has not specifically addressed 16 other detailed concerns [2] it raised in the consultation, including the narrow footway on Roseburn Terrace towards the junction with Roseburn Street, and the proposed elimination of the eastbound bus lane from Roseburn to Coates Gardens.

In its submission  the group indicates that it will continue to work with the Council on the details of this scheme, and to scrutinise the emerging design iterations to ensure that they (i) prioritise the needs of pedestrians, (ii) are in line with Council’s own Street Design Guidance, and (iii) comply with Equality Impacts Assessment requirements.

The full response can be found here

Response to Roseburn-Leith Walk cycle route project amendments 21/06/16


An Edinburgh campaign group has called for City of Edinburgh Council to undertake a ‘blitz’ on advertising ‘A-boards’ and other street clutter. The call was made by Living Streets Edinburgh [1] which campaigns for pedestrians’  interests, at its annual public meeting last night [2].

“Many of Edinburgh’s pavements resemble an obstacle course” [3] said the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Spaven. “It is often impossible for people to walk two abreast even in busy shopping streets such as South Bridge, Home Street and Raeburn Place. The number of A-boards appears to be increasing every year and they are getting bigger too; this is making our streets more and more unpleasant and difficult to use, at a time when we are supposed to be promoting walking for the economic, health and environmental benefits it brings. A-boards also represent a specific hazard for blind people.”

“We don’t want to see bare streets stripped of their local character, but there must be a fundamental review of Council policy in this area, together with a blitz of effective enforcement, as this type of street clutter is getting out of hand” he added.



  1. Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary branch of Living Streets, the national charity promoting everyday walking.
  2. The LSEG meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Victoria Street was attended by 60 members and supporters of Living Streets.
  3. Selected photos of street clutter attached.


David Spaven on 0131-447-7764 or 07917-877399.



Costa cup stockb3 viewforth2

New Johnston Terrace Pavement – only 1.5m wide

New-Narrow-Pavement-1We were appalled to see how narrow the pavement is on the Castle side of Johnston Terrace, after the works to install a ‘rock trap’ to catch falling rocks from Castle Rock were finished recently. The pavement is only 1.5 metres wide – well short of the 2.5 metre “absolute minimum” required by the Council’s own (excellent) Street Design Guidance.

Having looked into the history of this, it is almost as appalling to read the report to the Development Management Sub Committee 14 January 2015, which states

“Whilst this width is below that recommended in the council’s …guidelines it is considered, given the relatively low use of this footway, to be an be acceptable departure from standards in this instance. However as two wheelchairs or buggies will be unable to pass each other on a footway of this width the applicant was advised that uncontrolled crossing points on either side of the narrowing were required.”

We have raised this with the Council – not only the inadequacy of this pavement (which is far from “low use”) but also the wider issue of how keen the Council appears to be to ignore its own guidance.

Before (Picture from Google Streetview)






Annual Public Meeting – Tuesday 28 June


Living Streets Edinburgh Annual Public Meeting

Tuesday 28 June from 6pm – 8pm
Registration, tea and coffee from 5:40pm

Friends’ Meeting House, Victoria Terrace
Enter from George 4th Bridge. Lothian Bus 23, 27, 41, 42

Delivering World Class Streets for Edinburgh: The Next Steps


Welcome – David Spaven, Convenor Living Streets Edinburgh

Tollcross Street Audit: results and next steps – David Hunter, Living Streets Edinburgh

Walking: The National Situation – Stuart Hay, Director Living Streets Scotland

Improving Edinburgh’s public realm: challenges and opportunities – Paul Lawrence, Executive Director of Place, City of Edinburgh Council

Campaigning Workshops
A World Class Edinburgh: big asks for Council Elections 2017
Action at street level: how to declutter Edinburgh’s streets

Plenary and summing up



Living Streets Edinburgh backs ‘floating bus stop’ pilot on Leith Walk

Living Streets Edinburgh Group are backing the overall direction of the City of Edinburgh Council’s proposals for the next phase of upgrade of the Leith Walk corridor, including the segregated cycle route. There are many benefits for everyday walking in the planned scheme as a whole.

We do have big concerns, however, about ‘floating bus stops’, with cyclists routed behind bus stops, thereby requiring pedestrians to cross the cycle route to access the bus stop.


This is especially the case on busy shopping streets and main public transport corridors.   Irrespective of any cycling /walking conflict-reduction measures, it will be very difficult to avoid at least some deterioration in the convenience and safety of walking, especially for older and disabled people. Routine conflicts of queuing pedestrians blocking lanes are bad for cyclists too. The problems of conflict are most acute on areas with shop frontages and limited pavement widths and around major bus stops such as those found on main streets like Leith Walk. However, we are keen to do what we can to help the broad aim of what CEC is proposing for Leith Walk, so:

a.       We will support a floating bus stop pilot on Leith Walk, provided that,

b.      it can be demonstrated in advance that the whole Leith Walk scheme will deliver a net improvement in walking convenience and safety, and,

c.       a package of design and regulatory measures to mitigate floating bus stop impact on pedestrians is put in place, and,

d.      there is full objective monitoring and evaluation of the floating bus stops (for pedestrians, bus users, cyclists, elderly/disabled people) and of the modal shift / safety outcomes of the Leith Walk scheme as a whole, and,

e.       the roll-out of further floating bus stops in Edinburgh is delayed until after the evaluation of the Leith Walk pilot.

We are also keen to see more formal and informal crossings of Leith Walk, integrated with the tram planning process.