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 2023 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

 

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

Holyrood Park Consultation – LSE Response

Dear HES

We would like to make the following comments regarding the current consultation on the Outline Strategy for Holyrood Park. We are focussing on the use of the Park as a traffic route. We acknowledge the huge importance of the Park as a precious resource for Edinburgh residents and visitors.

Our view is that motor vehicles should not be allowed through the Park. The Park would be enhanced by being vehicle-free in every respect including pollution, safety and ambience. Access needs to be retained to the Park periphery to enable people to reach the Park who depend on cars, most obviously Blue Badge holders, and options need to be developed to provide appropriate environmentally-friendly access within the Park.

However, decisions on traffic through the Park need to be taken in the context of wider Edinburgh traffic plans (“Circulation Plan/Future Streets”). Closing the Park to through traffic will have impacts on the surrounding areas. In the short term at least, without further measures being introduced, it would increase motor traffic in heavily populated areas such as St Leonards, Abbeyhill and Meadowbank. It would mean more vehicles passing Preston Street, Holyrood and Abbeyhill Primary School, increasing congestion, pollution and road danger. A traffic-free Park must be part of an Edinburgh-wide traffic plan.

In the immediate future, the Park should be enhanced for people walking and wheeling. Priorities should be to re-introduce zebra crossings (or ‘informal zebras’ without beacons) across the many desire lines, especially in the vicinity of Holyrood Palace and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, where pedestrians struggle to cross the road. Speed reducing measures are also needed to combat the widespread non-observance of speed limits.

Finally, we wish to see an immediate re-opening of the Radical Road. The closure of the whole section is absurdly disproportionate to the risk of injury.

David Hunter
Convener

Minute of Living Streets Edinburgh Annual General Meeting

Quaker Meeting House, November 14, 2022
Approximately 25 people were present.

  1. A number of apologies were recorded
  2. The Minute of LSEG AGM 2021 was approved and adopted. There were no matters arising.
  3. David Hunter noted LSEG’S significant activity of the previous year.
  4. Isobel Leckie noted that financial activity this year was minimal. The bank account balance with Bank of Scotland is £1144.36.
  5. DH outlined the current structure of the Living Streets Edinburgh Group having no formal committee structure but individuals taking responsibility for particular aspects. A requirement of Living Streets is that local groups have two named office holders. It was agreed that David Hunter and Isobel Leckie continue in respective posts as Convenor and Treasurer.
  6. Guest speaker Cllr. Arthur made the point that personal transport is about having choices and that these should focus on sustainability. Although walking is the main mode for a third of the population it arouses least public comment. He wanted to get away from an ongoing battle between cyclists and motorists. and to focus more on walking and public transport.
  7. A number of questions were raised from the floor which Cllr Arthur responded to.
  8. DH spoke to a paper indicating LSEG proposed priorities for 2023:
    – Campaign for increased budgets for the pedestrian environment (capital and staffing)
    – Secure better enforcement of controls on parking
    – Support specific local campaigns for placemaking and traffic reduction – LTNs, 20 min – Neighbourhood plans
    – Develop walk friendly- environments at and around schools
    – Influence planning policy and practice to aid walking and wheeling and reduce motor traffic
    – Grow number of our supporters and range of our campaigns.
    – DH described ways in which individuals could become involved with LSEG campaigning and encouraged anyone interested to get in touch.
  1. There was no further business and the meeting was closed.