16th August letter to Councillor Lesley Macinnes
Dear Councillor Macinnes
We are very pleased to see some real debates starting in earnest about a vision for Edinburgh where people (pedestrians!) take precedence over traffic and look forward to participating in these discussions over the coming months.
Meanwhile, there is one important matter to which we wanted to draw your attention, concerning the motion on tram safety which you put to full Council of 29 June last year. This essentially called for a “thorough infrastructure review…to improve pedestrian and cycling safety”. A consultation was carried out by the Council in response to your motion, but this dealt with cycling safety alone. Our response focussed on the need to respond to your motion by also considering pedestrian safety: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2018/04/10/edinburgh-tram-route-cycle-safety-consultation-comments-by-lse
We were then further disappointed to see walking safety considerations and improvements once more entirely ignored in the Council’s summary of the consultation responses, which again dealt solely with cycling safety: https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/tram-route-cycle-safety-improvements/
We subsequently raised these concerns directly with the Active Travel Team; however, we were unable to convince them that a wider remit for the project to include the safety and convenience of pedestrians was as necessary as that of cyclists. Discussion on the walking aspects of the project seem purely incidental. So far the sole focus has been on managing the potentially negative impacts for pedestrian movement as a result of cycling improvements, eg loss of footway space.
While we recognise how important it was to respond to the tragic death of the cyclist Zhi Min Soh, we don’t regard the overall Council response to your motion as acceptable. There are considerably more pedestrians injured on Princes Street and other roads than cyclists. We would therefore like to request two actions:
- Could you ask officials to revisit the review to highlight measures which address pedestrian safety and convenience along the tram route, as required by your motion to Council?
- Would you consider appointing a councillor as a ‘walking champion’ for the Council, in a similar role to the cycling champion? We feel that this might be a useful measure to ensure that pedestrian interests are given more attention than is often the case currently, where ‘active travel’ effort focuses principally on cycling, and does not give sufficient weight to walking.
Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group