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.

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.

WALKING CAMPAIGNERS WELCOME CHANGE TO ROSEBURN CYCLE PLAN DESIGN

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

LOCAL GROUP CALLS FOR ‘BLITZ’ ON EDINBURGH STREET CLUTTER

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.

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS: 

  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.

MORE INFO:

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

http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/

END OF RELEASE

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)

Google-Streetview-Johnston-Terrace-2010

After

 

Existing-Path-BottomNew-Narrow-PathNew-Narrow-Pavement-1Rock-Trap-Top

New-Narrow-Pavement-2Existing-Pavement-Top

Annual Public Meeting – Tuesday 28 June

LSE-AGM-2016

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

Agenda

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.

Shrub-Place-Floating-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.

 

Living Streets Edinburgh – backing the cycle route and protecting pedestrians

Some cycling campaigners have indicated that we are opposed to segregated cycle ways. This is categorically not the case. After walking most of the proposed Edinburgh East to West cycle route, and auditing the design, we have supported the vast majority of the proposal and recommended some detailed design improvements.  However, we have concerns about two sections of the route, due to impacts on the safety and convenience of walking.

The first concern is that Roseburn Terrace will not be able to accommodate a well-designed cycle bypass / floating bus stop which minimises conflicts with pedestrians queuing, alighting from or getting on buses. Conflicts of this nature will not be good for cyclists either.  So far, the experience of such infrastructure in the UK has not been good, especially TFL’s efforts in London, where Living Streets has observed significant problems at a number of busy high streets. We are especially concerned at the effect on elderly and disabled bus passengers who will not be expecting to encounter cyclists on alighting.

We have suggested an alternative route for this short section – which actually links better with the Family Friendly route through Roseburn Park. We also believe widening both pavements at Roseburn Terrace is a priority for improving the public realm and maximising active travel benefits. We suggest further work is needed with all parties on the design of this section of the route and are happy to work with cycling groups to understand their perspective and look at options which address our concerns.

Our second concern is that the east end of Princes Street proposal – running straight through the middle of the pavement – is highly problematic due to the sheer volume of pedestrians and the inevitable conflicts which would be created. We want to see re-allocation of road space to accommodate cycling and minimise conflicts.

We look forward to supporting the project as a whole and ensuring it maximises benefits to pedestrians as well as cyclists. Where there are problems, we will work constructively with other interests to resolve them.

LIVING STREETS EDINBURGH RESPONSE: ROSEBURN-LEITH WALK CYCLE ROUTE CONSULTATION

Living Streets Edinburgh (LSE) campaigns for improved conditions for everyday walking in Edinburgh’s streets and public spaces.  Walking is the most important transport mode in the city, since over half of all journeys by Edinburgh residents are made either entirely on foot (35%) or by bus (18%), the latter involving a walking stage.  It is also the most socially inclusive mode – it’s as natural as breathing – and is critical to the city’s economy (including the important tourist sector).

1. Key principles

1.1  LSE is strongly supportive of measures to improve sustainable transport generally and will support segregated cycle routes where these do not adversely affect the safety and/or convenience of walking, and particularly where they provide general improvements to the walking environment as well. This is the case for the large majority of this route.

1.2  We have big concerns about ‘floating bus stops’, as – irrespective of any ameliorative measures – there will inevitably be some deterioration in the convenience and safety of walking, as pedestrians have to cross the cycle path from the pavement in order to access the bus stop. Our view is that no floating bus stops should be created in Edinburgh until after the evaluation of a pilot (with multiple safeguards) within the next phase of the Leith Walk upgrade (see separate submission to Anna Harriman at City of Edinburgh Council). Options to avoid these conflicts should be explored.

1.3  Walking in the city centre and bus use are closely linked. The impact of reduced bus priority needs to be considered in relation to journey times and air pollution impacts on pedestrians. We urge the council to view the project in a multi-modal context, which balances the needs of cyclists with bus users (as well as people on foot) – especially on busy bus routes.

Read the full response to the Roseburn to Leith Cycle Route here

Briefing: The way forward for George Street

In October 2015 Living streets Edinburgh responded to the local Councils request for comments on the future plans for George Street.

The full response can be found here

The briefing sets out the views of Living Streets Scotland and Living Streets Edinburgh (the local campaign group) on the future of George Street and the scope to restore it to its rightful place as one of the capital’s and Scotland’s finest streets. It summarises 10 principles that we believe will allow Edinburgh to match and compete with other similar north European capital cities, with principal streets that offer a high quality experience to visitors and residents.

Achieving the vision

  • Recognize that George Street is an internationally important asset
  • Redress the chronic lack of high-quality urban space in Edinburgh
  • More people – not more parking – is the key to George Street’s future success
  • Create fully pedestrianised European style spaces
  • George Street is not a transport artery, so prioritise place over movement
  • Quality materials are not enough to deliver a quality street
  • Shared space must protect vulnerable users and restrain vehicle speeds
  • George Street must be at the heart of a lively, sociable walkable New Town
  • Proactively manage and regulate the new street from the outset
  • Edinburgh must not fail again

 

The opportunity must be taken to demonstrate Edinburgh’s streetscape can match its world-class architecture. 

 

 

Princes Street

Princes Street is the heart of Edinburgh and its busiest street for people on foot. But pedestrians get a very raw deal as they proceed along the street.  We have recorded video footage of this junction in September 2015 and found that it can take to FOUR MINUTES 22 SECONDS for people to wait for the green man phase to cross just the Frederick Street junction. This is an unacceptable wait time for people on foot and not only leads to delays for the great number of people on foot but is dangerous as some people will inevitably seek to cross before the ‘green man’ phase comes on, resulting in frequent ‘near misses’.

The problem lies with the timing of the traffic signals. According to council policy, “absolute priority” is given to trams; this has had a knock-on effect of increasing the time that pedestrians have to wait to cross the roads which join Princes Street. However, the Council has responded to our concerns by tweaking the signal timings and we understand that pedestrian wait times have reduced recently. We will make more video recordings in the future, so that the pedestrian experience and actual wait times can be accurately documented and monitored. We also want to ensure that, should trams be extended to Leith or Newhaven in the future, there is no detriment to the pedestrian experience on any other part of the tram route.