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.

Our overall aim is to:

Promote walking (including ‘wheeling’) as a safe, enjoyable, accessible and healthy 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, dispersed development;
  • more effective implementation of pro-walking policies ‘on the ground’.

Our priorities for action in 2024 are to:

  • Campaign for increased budgets (capital and staffing) for the
    pedestrian environment by the City of Edinburgh Council, especially
    to:
    • widen footways;
    • tackle pavement clutter;
    • improve priority for pedestrians at signalled crossings;
    • improve accessibility by installing dropped kerbs and continuous
      footways.
  • Secure better enforcement of controls on parking (including new
    ‘pavement parking’ provisions) and speeding.
  • Support specific local campaigns for place-making and traffic
    reduction.
  • Develop our work on walk-friendly environments at and around
    schools.
  • Influence planning policy and practice to aid walking and wheeling
    and reduce motor traffic.
  • Grow the number of our supporters and range of our campaigns.

If you would like to get involved in our work in any way, please email us at:
 edinburghgroup@livingstreets.org.uk

 

Meadows-George Street: LSEG objection to TRO

Objection to TRO/21/32

The Living Streets Edinburgh Group reluctantly objects to this TRO. We recognise that the Meadows to George Street scheme is both complex and ambitious, putting into effect important aspects of the Council’s ‘Our Future Streets’ strategy, There are many aspects of the project which are very welcome including widening of George IV Bridge footways and the semi-pedestrianisation of Forrest Road.

However, we are very disappointed that the footways on the Mound are barely improved from the current unsatisfactory state. The eastern footway will be only 0.5 metres wider while the western footway remains below the ‘absolute minimum’ width of 2.5 metres. The Mound is designated in Our Future Streets as a ‘walking priority street’ and it is inconceivable to us that such a comprehensive and expensive scheme does not bring pavements up to at least the ‘desired’ width of 3 metres’ stipulated by the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance. The Council’s report from March 2020 rightly acknowledges that these streets “carry very high footfall levels throughout the year and especially during the festivals. This results in the pavements being often over-capacity and people having to stray onto the road.” (para3.5)

Footway widening should have more priority than installation of a very wide (3 metre) cycleway, given that the street has a 20mph speed limit, and especially given that most motor traffic will be removed owing to the bus gate, which makes cycling on the carriageway far safer and more appealing. We are also unhappy with the Hanover Street footways, which although widened significantly, are bisected by cycleways on both sides. Again, the low volume of motor vehicle traffic, owing to the bus gate, must call into question the need for these cycleways at all. We also are disappointed to see the footway significantly reduced on the east of George IV Bridge at the NMS Tower restaurant corner.

Other than footway widths, our main objection is to the floating bus stops, especially at the foot of the Mound and on Hanover Street where cycling speeds are likely to be especially high. National guidance Cycling by Design states that “Bus stop bypasses on steep downhill gradients should be avoided, as cycle users are likely to approach these at higher speeds, creating interactions that are more difficult to manage” (p97).

All design guidance notes that these bus stops can be problematic for pedestrians/bus users, especially the most vulnerable people who particularly value safe, walk-only space such as blind people, older people with poor mobility, dementia etc. We accept that this factor needs to be balanced against the argument that bypasses protect cyclists from potential collisions with traffic when overtaking buses. However, given the big reduction in motor traffic as a result of the bus gate, this argument is much diminished. We therefore wish to see traditional bus stop designs on these locations in particular.

The project must reflect the status of ‘walking and wheeling’ at the top of the movement hierarchy both nationally and locally. We have been raising the points above with Council staff for over five years without any significant change and we must now therefore object formally to the Traffic Orders. We hope that future major active travel schemes will ensure that more priority is given to improving all walking environments and we intend to object to any future scheme which fails to meet at least ‘minimum’ standards.

LSE Annual General Meeting – 6.00pm, Thursday 16 May 2024

Friends Meeting House, Victoria Terrace

The LSE Annual report can be downloaded here – LSE Annual Report 2024

AGENDA

  • Introductions / apologies
  • Minutes of last AGM, 14 November 2022.
  • Treasurer’s report (Isobel Leckie)
  • Convenor’s report (David Hunter)
  • Communications with supporters (Rachael Revesz)
  • Discussion: our priorities and how to achieve them*
  • Agreement of lead roles (Convener and Treasurer etc.)
  • AOB.

Finish: 7.15pm

  • Note: this will be the main item. After discussion, we will decide what
    officer positions (Convener, Treasurer, committee members etc) we
    need.

Our Future Streets – A discussion on the future of Edinburgh’s streets

Thank you for attending our webinar with Daisy Narayanan, head of placemaking and mobility at Edinburgh Council, and Cllr Scott Arthur, convener of the Transport and Environment Committee, who discussed changes to central Edinburgh i.e. the North / South Bridges, Canongate, Cowgate, the Mound and more.

Missed the event? Here is the video on YouTube

Here are the headlines:

  • Edinburgh is very congested and that’s something we have to tackle to hit net zero, as well as accommodate growth: land has been set aside for around 37,000 new houses in and around the city over the next few years.
  • How and when these changes are happening are yet to be outlined in detail. But expecting some / most of it within a year.
  • Traffic modelling shows an expected 10% traffic evaporation once these new proposals go through – the Council has a 30% reduction target in car kilometres by 2030.
  • The proposals to restrict traffic on the bridges etc partly depend on letting traffic flow (partially) through Holyrood Park – Historic Environment Scotland (HES) owns Holyrood Park and is currently consulting on the park’s future – the Council and HES will have to work together.
  • Scott Arthur said he does not foresee any changes to Lothian Bus routes through the city centre, but of course Lothian Buses makes up its own routes, not the Council.
  • This is not a car ‘ban’. Residents and businesses will retain access to areas like Cowgate [editor: unanswered questions if any of proposed areas will actually be pedestrianised].
  • The new proposals mean re-examining plans to make Lothian Road a ‘boulevard’.There is an opportunity to widen pavements on the bridges as well as restrict through-traffic.
  • The Council is considering restricting vehicle access to Calton Road from Leith Street i.e. where the back of Waverley Station is.
  • Any changes to Picardy Place will be incremental e.g. possibly again allowing vehicles to turn onto London Road.
  • The fundamental challenge is the volume of traffic in the city. However, the plans aim to make it easier for people who really need to drive. The tram network is planned to double and bus journey times are planned to decrease by 25% within a decade.
  • The Council and Network Rail are talking about opening certain sections of the South Suburban Railway i.e. Slateford to Portobello, but not the entire loop. Timescale? 2035. Ultimate permission will come from Network Rail.Please email us if you’d like to be sent the slide deck / Zoom chat.

Further reading:

City Mobility Plan – First Review – February 2024

What are The City of Edinburgh Council plans for city centre traffic?

What are The City of Edinburgh Council plans for city centre traffic?

What will they mean for everyday walking and wheeling?

Join us online at 12.00 on 1 March to hear a short presentation from Daisy Narayanan and join the Q&A!

Register you place here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAsc-ugrjwpEtRfWiZMru0iH5nbbZlNLzXF#/registration

Pavement parking: deputation from Living Streets Edinburgh Group

Walking, disability and cycling organisations have campaigned for a ban on pavement parking for well over a decade, It is also now four years since the ban was legislated for in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019. On the eve of the ban finally coming into effect, it is essential that it is administered as effectively as possible, so that we see an end to vehicles parked on pavements and blocking dropped kerbs.

We would like to give full credit to councillors who adopted a policy last August that the ban should apply to all streets, with no exemptions. We are encouraged to hear the determination to stick to this position. We want to see the additional revenue generated by penalties re-invested in effective enforcement – especially in those areas in the city where parking attendants don’t currently patrol.

However the report before councillors is extremely disappointing. It not only fails to acknowledge this ‘no exemptions’ policy, but also asks councillors “to note” an approach which permits the possibility of exemptions – contrary to council policy.

The report seems to assume that current parking capacity must be accommodated; that the Council must ensure that people who currently park on the footway are able to either park somewhere else, or must be allowed to continue to park on pavements. How can a council with a target to reduce car use by 30% countenance such an approach?

When footway parking is no longer permitted, then the responsibility lies with the owner to find somewhere else to park safely and legally. No doubt many people who currently park on the pavement won’t be able to park outside their home and will have to walk further to a suitable parking space. But if someone has nowhere to park safely and legally, then it calls into question whether they should own that car at all.

The Council’s Project Centre consultants advise that they have recommended “cost-effective mitigation measures to alleviate footway parking” for all the problem streets which they have identified (Para 2.3.9 of the Appendix). One of these mitigations is ‘exemption’: in other words, to alleviate pavement parking, it should be permitted!! This is an incredible feat of logic. We have asked to see the full list of these recommendations and suggest that they must be made available to all councillors, and to the public.

The report makes no mention of the need to assess the impacts on disabled people of continuing to permit footway parking which we believe fails to conform to the Public Sector Equality Duty. The Scottish Government’s statutory disability transport advisors (the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, MACS) has called for all councils to adopt a ‘no exemptions’ policy.

It would be unforgivable if the long-awaited ban on irresponsible parking was undermined at the eleventh hour by allowing streets to be exempted because of displaced parking. Cars belong in a driveway or garage, or on the carriageway. Pavements are not places where vehicles belong. It really is that simple.

Living Streets Edinburgh Group

November 2023