Monthly Archives: November 2017

Picardy Place Position Statement – November 2017

Introduction

Picardy Place is a crucial part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is already traffic dominated and will become worse if proposals for a three-lane gyratory go ahead. If the City of Edinburgh Council does not apply its own policies – prioritising walking and cycling – to its big projects, it clearly sends out the wrong signal on transport priorities.

Our position

A gyratory traffic system (major roundabout) is totally inappropriate in a modern city centre, due to the impact of multiple traffic lanes. This type of infrastructure is being ripped up in London to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Building one in Edinburgh would be a backward step for the city because:

    • The design is outdated and has not been subject to modern standards of consultation which focus on ‘place making’ in the public realm.
    • It does not comply with Scottish Government or the Council’s own policies, especially in terms of prioritising ‘movement over place’ and a sustainable transport hierarchy.
    • Footways are not wide enough – failing to meet the Council’s own Street design Guidance in places.
    • There will be a loss of important areas of public realm / cultural / green space.
    • There are potential conflict points between pedestrians and cyclists in a busy part of the city.
    • It fails to provide a proper bus interchange with the tram stop which is easy to walk to and encourages people to arrive by public transport and not by car.

What needs to happen?

    • The council need to take a place-based approach to this important area of the City, putting pedestrians at the heart of their transport policy. This means a T-Junction, not a roundabout.
    • This approach should make it easier for people to cross roads using direct routes and desire lines, without diversions and multiple staged crossings.
    • Pedestrians and cyclists need their own dedicated space to avoid frustration, conflict and safety concerns.
    • Footways need to be wide enough, especially beside the Cathedral, and important areas of public space and art should be retained.
    • Design in space and convenient crossings to a tram / bus interchange which is easily accessible for people with disabilities.

Conclusions

There is a significant opportunity here to create a great new public space, transport interchange and gateway to the city centre: by reviewing the current proposals and applying modern approaches to public consultation and place-based design. The Council must realise this opportunity by working with citizens and key stakeholders, including Living Streets Edinburgh, through a meaningful consultation process over the coming months.

Take action now

Please take two minutes to contact councillors on the Transport and Environment Committee (and local councillors representing the Picardy Place area) and help to make a real difference to this important part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site for generations to come.

Email the councillors now

Notes of Living Streets Edinburgh Group Annual Public Meeting 2017

Notes of Living Streets Edinburgh Group Annual Public Meeting, Friends Meeting House, Edinburgh, 7.00pm, 28 September 2017

 

  1. Convenor’s Welcome and report

David Hunter welcomed supporters to the meeting and summarised the Group’s activity over the past year which included:

  • Preparing a manifesto for the May Council elections with four main asks;
    • transform the way our streets are managed
    • more investment in walking
    • a traffic plan for the city centre
    • major pedestrianisation project (George St)
  • Welcoming some evidence of CEC movement on transforming street management, eg review of A-boards policy.
  • Regular liaison with a number of CEC councillors and officers including recent walkabout with Cllr Macinnes. Welcomed Paul Lawrence’s vision of doubling the width of all pavements – more radical than us!
  • Responded to more than a dozen cycle route proposals – with some welcome walking improvements, but in most cases incidental and inconsistent, and frequent failure to apply Street Design Standards to pavement widths etc.
  • Inputted to planning and traffic management plans, notably Picardy Place, proposed as a giant roundabout
  • Commented on or reported countless road works impeding walking, demonstrating an endemic failure within CEC systems of management / enforcement
  • Kept pressing the Festival Streets concept (closing streets to traffic) and hope to see support developing for an initiative in 2018
  • Finally, we’ve strengthened our Committee and got involved in an ever widening range of campaign activities: we would be pleased to hear from anyone who wants to help in any way – responding to consultations, social media, or simply reporting faults and following up on them.

David then introduced and welcomed Cllr Lesley Macinnes, the new Convenor of Transport and Environment Committee.

 

  1. Cllr Macinnes

Cllr Macinnes spoke about her background and, as a new councillor, her wish to understand the issues and agendas that her position required, to build relationships within and outwith the Council and to prioritise the work plan of the administration which the SNP leads, with Labour. She emphasised the commitment to empower communities and citizens and encourage participation. She considered the 20mph scheme to be an outstanding success.

At the same time there have been some major issues which need urgent attention, notably the business case for extending the tram. She was an advocate of more pedestrian zones (not only in the city centre0, reducing congestion and car traffic generally, as the city is expected to grow to a population of 600,000 in the next 30 years. She was keen to tackle pavement parking and improve street cleansing and road/pavement maintenance. She is part of a ministerial working group to improve air quality and introduce Low Emission Zones in line with recent Scottish Government announcements.

She spoke of her recent decision to postpone decisions on the controversial Picardy Place plans and committed to a programme of intensive consultation before a final decision was made; however she also stressed the legal, financial and physical constraints. She pointed to Silverknowes as an example of her willingness to intervene (to halt a road scheme that was inappropriate for cyclists).

She welcomed the input of groups like Living Streets and would also appreciate their public support where possible, as there would also be vocal opposition to many proposals to improve active travel and curtail traffic.

Cllr Macinnes then took questions from the floor on issues including: the possibility of more, or better advertised Park and Ride, controlling or removing ‘A-boards’, improving fault reporting systems, the prospects for a joined-up approach to managing streets through ‘street marshals’ and the hazard caused by bollards and chains on the High Street.

The audience joined in thanks to Cllr Macinnes for her talk, insights and openness to ideas for improving walking in Edinburgh.

 

  1. Stuart Hay

Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland, gave a presentation showing some possibilities of radical improvement to public space in Edinburgh and illustrating initiatives from around the world which other cities (some ‘competitors’ to Edinburgh for visitors) have introduced to make them more ‘places for people’.

 

  1. Workshop sessions

The meeting then broke into informal groups to look at maps and stimulate thoughts on specific locations and issues, in both the city centre and across the council area, where there were particular barriers to walking – or indeed, good practice.                (These have been collated and will be passed on to the Council).

 

The meeting closed at 9.00pm.