All posts by Living Streets Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Street Design Guidance – key standards for clear pavements

In 2015, the City of Edinburgh Council adopted new Street Design Guidance. This sets out the standards and requirements for how the city’s streets are to be designed, maintained and managed. Fundamental to the Guidance is ‘walkability’ – wider pavements, less street clutter, less dominant traffic. “Everyone who manages, maintains, alters or reconstructs streets, including urban paths, will be expected to comply with the Guidance” (p8).

The Living Streets Edinburgh Group has prepared this briefing paper to help anyone wanting to campaign for a more walkable Edinburgh, by setting out some key requirements contained in the Guidance. For full details, see http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20089/roads_and_pavements/906/edinburgh_street_design

 

Pavement widths

The Council classifies all Edinburgh streets: for example as “Retail/High Street”, “High Density Residential”, “Low Density Residential“ etc. It further classifies streets as ‘Strategic’, ‘Secondary’ or ‘Local’.

A minimum, and desirable, width applies for each different type of street. However, no pavement on any street should be less than 2 metres wide. Some key standards are:

Retail/High streets:
“absolute minimum 2.5m (only allowed in short sections), general min 3m, desirable min 4m or wider”

High density residential (Strategic and secondary):
“absolute min. 2m (only allowed in short sections), general minimum 2.5m, desirable min 3m or wider”

All streets:
“absolute minimum of 2m (only allowed in short sections), general min of at least 2.5 m or wider.”

 

“Clear Walking Zone”

 This is the space on a pavement that must be kept clear of *any* obstructions (lamp posts, A-boards, bins, bus shelters, signage poles, etc):

All streets: 1.5 metres minimum Clear Walking Zone

 

This document is available as a downloadable PDF here – Living-Streets-Edinburgh-Street-Design-Clear-Pavements

 

ACTIVE TRAVEL CAMPAIGNERS WELCOME COUNCIL MOVE ON NEW PICARDY PLACE JUNCTION

Cycling and walking campaign groups have welcomed the decision of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) to look at new options to boost active travel in the re-design of the controversial Picardy Place / Leith Street junction associated with the St James Quarter development. Following a presentation [1] by a deputation from Living Streets Edinburgh [2] and Spokes [3], CEC’s new Transport and Environment Committee today backed a motion from Green Party Councillor, Chas Booth [4], which argued that:

‘ the redesign of a significant city centre junction and surrounding streets presents an opportunity for traffic reduction, development of active travel infrastructure, and improvement of the public realm’

The Committee agreed to receive a report within one Committee cycle, setting out options for achieving these objectives in Picardy Place and surrounding streets, and reporting on the decision-making processes to date on the Picardy Place junction, the proposed future decision making, and what the democratic oversight of the process has been to date.

David Spaven, Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh commented:

‘We’re delighted that the T & E Committee has decided to look at the options for better provision for cycling and walking at this important new junction. At present, conditions for active travel are highly sub-standard in the area – but we hope that all interested parties and the public at large can now work towards a final design which is both a symbolic and very practical demonstration of the importance of first, walking and cycling, and second, ‘place’ rather than ‘movement’, in a highly-visible and much-used area of the city centre.

‘The Census and other surveys show that the Council is making progress on its targets to reduce car use and to boost cycling, walking and public transport.  It would be tragic if this success was jeopardised by a traffic-dominated design at this major city centre location.’

Martin McDonnell of Spokes commented:

‘There are a number of aspects of the currently proposed road design which give us cause for concern. We believe there is still too much emphasis on providing space for vehicles. While the provision of a dedicated cycle path and wider pavements is welcome, the cycle path and some pavements will narrower than they should be for these busy streets. It is also most unwise to incorporate shared cyclist / pedestrian space, particularly as many cyclists will be on ‘A to B’ journeys rather than mingling. This is a recipe for conflict, with the most vulnerable users (including pedestrians who are frail or have a disability) likely to come off worst.

‘Important green space and public realm (including mature trees) would be lost in front of the cathedral and on Picardy Place itself, in order to accommodate three lanes of traffic and the large island in the centre of the gyratory roundabout.

‘In light of concerns about the large gyratory intersection, which would be dangerous for cycling, and the loss of public space, we feel there is a great opportunity to explore removing the entire island at the centre of the proposed roundabout and the associated gyratory system from the design, thus creating improved conditions for cycling, and allowing the public realm and footway width to be increased on all three sides of the junction.

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] The 2-page Living Streets / Spokes briefing paper to the T &E Committee can be found here.

[2] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local voluntary arm of the national charity which campaigns for improved conditions for ‘everyday walking’. http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/

[3] Spokes is the Lothian Cycle Campaign. http://www.spokes.org.uk/

[4] Councillor Booth’s motion (with minor amendments, not shown here) was as follows:

[The Committee]

  1. Notes the decision of council on 10 March 2016 in regard to the regeneration of the St James Quarter, including a decision on the future governance of the Growth Accelerator Model (GAM) works programme and cross-party members’ oversight of the project;
  2. Notes that the Edinburgh Tram Extension and Leith Programme all-party oversight group has not met since the council election in May;
  3. Expresses concern at the lack of public consultation on changes to a significant element of the city’s transport infrastructure;
  4. Agrees that full public consultation on proposed changes to the Picardy Place junction should take place as soon as possible;
  5. Agrees that the redesign of a significant city centre junction and surrounding streets presents an opportunity for traffic reduction, development of active travel infrastructure, and improvement of the public realm;
  6. Therefore agrees to receive a report within one cycle setting out options for achieving this in Picardy Place and surrounding streets, and that this report will also set out the decision-making process to date on Picardy Place, and the proposed future decision making, and in particular what the democratic oversight of the process has been.’

END OF RELEASE

PEDESTRIAN CAMPAIGN GIVES CAUTIOUS WELCOME TO COUNCIL STREET SHAKE-UP PLAN

City of Edinburgh Council plans to re-organise street management have been given a cautious welcome by the pedestrian campaigning group, Living Streets Edinburgh [1]. The Council’s Transport & Environment Committee meets on 10 August to consider a report which brands current street management arrangements as ‘unfit for purpose’ and proposes a new streamlined arrangement to look after roads and pavements. David Spaven, the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, commented:

 

‘We’ve been monitoring the state of Edinburgh’s streets for years, and it’s fair to say that many are currently a shambles, with broken pavements [3] full of all kinds of clutter. In the run-up to the Council elections earlier this year, we called on all the parties to back a big shake-up in street management [2] with joined-up and accountable responsibility for looking after our streets, spotting faults and ensuring that they are fixed quickly. Much better conditions for walking – including wide, well-maintained and clutter-free pavements – are the key to making the city’s public realm much more civilised, and safer.

 

‘We welcome the Council’s recognition that the inspection and fixing of street faults is currently not working properly and that plans to improve efficiency and co-ordination are being brought forward. However, it’s not yet clear how far this new set-up will help to transform conditions for pedestrians – the new Roads Services Improvement Plan mentions ‘roads’ over 50 times, but ‘pavements’ on just five occasions.’

Photos below by Living Streets Edinburgh illustrate pavement problems across the city:

 

Bank of Scotland grounds at Holy Corner – footpath closure

The Bank of Scotland grounds at Holy Corner have been used as path off the main road to Bruntsfield on a daily basis for many years by cyclists and pedestrians. The narrow pavements in the area have meant that the preferred safe route for local people has been through the bank grounds.

Residents have raised concerns that the public access across the Bank of Scotland site may be lost when the land is sold. Local Councillor Melanie Main is working with residents to safeguard public access: the public have been using this as a route for very many years, and it may well therefore be a Right of Way.  A recorded Right of Way would safeguard continued access across the site, which may be important if there were proposals for changes, e.g: a building development in the grounds in the future. To establish the right and have it registered it is necessary to provide evidence from those who have used the route.

Local city of Edinburgh councillor Melanie Main is seeking evidence that the path has been open and used by people – this can then be taken forward to ensure the path is made a permanent right of way.

Please see the attached questionnaire

2017-08-08-BoS-Holy-Corner-Path-Questionnaire

PARTY MANIFESTOS EDINBURGH: 2017 COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Our analysis of all the parties’ manifestos for the recent elections (see below) shows that there is much common ground on the need to improve conditions for walking in Edinburgh, as a key means of improving the health, environment, economy of the city.

Edinburgh has inherited – from the vision of politicians and planners hundreds of years ago – a compact pattern of development which still lends itself to walking, but that is not enough for the 21st century. We urge Councillors of all parties to work pro-actively together to deliver the transformation of the car-dominated public realm which Edinburgh residents and visitors deserve.

Labour:

Poor air quality presents a significant challenge to young and old, and broken surfaces on pavements and roads affect us all, whether walking, driving or cycling.

Create a dedicated ‘Budget for Walking’ to be used, for example to install more pedestrian crossings, more drop kerbs and increase the number of paths and pedestrian zones.

Make significant progress towards making our city ‘barrier free’ by improving accessibility to buildings, and making streets and pavements suitable for people with disabilities.

 

SNP:

 …ensuring Edinburgh remains a walkable city where the needs of pedestrians are central to how our streets are designed.

We will invest £100m over the next five years to fix our roads and pavements.

We will tackle pavement obstructions and further reduce street clutter. We will tackle parking at drop kerbs and parking on pavements as soon as we have the powers to do so and conduct a wide-ranging review on access issues for people with disabilities.

Utility companies continually digging up our roads and pavements can inflict damage to our infrastructure, increase traffic pressure and cause chaos in our communities. We will explore the introduction of a rent charge for utility companies to prevent such disruption.

 

Green:

 …create safe and attractive routes for cyclists and walkers

Review and set a target to significantly increase the current 58% share of people walking, cycling or using public transport to commute;

Introduce a number of days where public transport, cycling and walking are given priority

Make it easier and more attractive for people to choose walking and cycling

We back more money for well-managed services which improve day to day life: streets free of litter and dog-fouling; bin collections which are on time; and well-maintained pavements, cycle-paths and roads.

Tackle the state of roads and pavements by putting in place a Roads Inquiry and Action Plan with three priorities:

  1. Prevent (reducing large trucks and pavement mounting);
            1. Manage (better co-ordination of utilities’ road works and improving roads team customer service);
  2. Invest (push for the Scottish Government to switch money from high-profile “prestige” projects and towards maintenance and repair).

 

Conservative:

 Improve the condition of Edinburgh’s roads, paths and pavements for all.

Create an Edinburgh Index, published annually or more frequently, showing an assessment of road, path and pavement conditions…

Increase targeted provision for pedestrians such as safe school zones, pedestrian zones and addressing casualty blackspots.

 

Liberal Democrat:

 Pavements are in an equally dangerous state [to roads]

We want to make it easier for people to get around our great city, whether by walking, cycling, getting around by public transport and using the car where appropriate. It means ensuring the city is accessible for all, regardless of physical or sensory ability. Liberal Democrats will work with others to ensure the city improves the experience of people who walk in the city.

…will maintain the walking and cycling element of our transport budget at 10% {I pointed out to their transport spokesperson months ago that the 10% is all for cycling!]

…encourage more people to cycle and to do so considerately, especially where space is shared with pedestrians.

…we will focus on repairing potholes in the city and deteriorating pavements. 

LSE delighted at proposal for fundamental review of Advertising Board Policy

Living Streets Edinburgh is delighted that the City Council’s Transport and Environment Committee is being recommended to back undertaking a strategic review of the growing problem of A-board clutter across the city. As the Committee paper – http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/53632/item_76_-_a_boards  – acknowledges:

Concerns have been raised by organisations including community councils, Living Streets and the Council’s Access Panel that street clutter is impeding the ability for pedestrians to move through the city safely, and that the situation is worsening.’

Feedback from our supporters shows that A-boards:

  • are widely disliked by the public
  • narrow the walking space on pavements, often contravening the Council’s own Street Design Guidance
  • cause obstructions and sometimes hazards, for example for visually impaired people, which is potentially unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Since organising – in conjunction with Tollcross Community Council and the Edinburgh Access Panel members – a representative street audit at Tollcross in late 2015, we have been pressing the City Council to undertake just such a strategic review of policy – and its enforcement. http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/consultation-responses/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh-summary-of-recommendations/

If Councillors back the recommendation, we will be fully consulted by officers. Other UK cities have undertaken such reviews, with the result that A-boards are licensed, better controlled or simply banned.  Edinburgh’s review should cover what should be allowed on which streets and how the rules are enforced. The issue has wider implications of course – on the quality of public space in the city, the vitality of its businesses and the potential for better Council management of our streets – the latter being one of the four proposals in our ‘Manifesto for Walking’ in the run-up to the Council Elections in May. at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/12/21/living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-for-walking/ ‘

CAMPAIGNERS URGE CAR CLAMP-DOWN AT BOROUGHMUIR SCHOOL SITE

Walking campaigners have reacted angrily to news that City Council officials are recommending that councillors approve 95 car parking spaces for the residential development of the Boroughmuir School site in Bruntsfield. Councillors at the Council’s 22nd March Development Management Sub-Committee meeting are being advised by officials to approve the development, but Living Streets Edinburgh Group [1] – which officially objected to the transport elements of the proposal [2] – has written [3] to the Councillors urging them to drastically cut parking provision for a site which they say is extremely well sited for alternatives to the car. The Group’s Convenor, David Spaven said:

‘…a development with 95 parking spaces cannot be consistent with the council’s transport and environmental objectives. The location 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.

‘The Council cannot on the one hand endorse a ‘business as usual’ development like this, and on the other hand claim that it is pursuing enlightened transport and environmental policies which minimise the impact of the car and make the public realm a much better place for walkers, cyclists and people using public transport. If a progressive approach to parking cannot be adopted at the Boroughmuir site, where alternatives to the car are myriad, what chance is there that a visionary approach will be taken anywhere else in the city?’

With Council Elections looming, Living Streets is urging candidates to back its ‘Manifesto for Walking’ [4] which calls for (i) transformed street management across the city, reducing clutter on pavements, (ii) much more investment in walking, including wider pavements and better road crossings, (iii) a comprehensive traffic plan for the city centre, to make the public realm safer and more pleasant for people on foot, and (iv) the pedestrianisation of George Street, to put Edinburgh on a par with competing cities across Europe.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local voluntary arm of Living Streets, the national charity which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday walking’

[2} Living Streets official objection is at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/10/23/objection-to-redevelopment-of-boroughmuir-high-school-excessive-car-parking/

[3] Text of 16 March 2017 email to Councillors on the Development Management Sub-Committee:

Dear Councillors

With reference to the Development Management Sub-Committee meeting next Wednesday, Living Streets Edinburgh Group is dismayed to hear that ‘Having considered the submitted supporting information, the council as roads authority has no objection to the proposal on road safety grounds’.

As we noted in our objection, a development with 95 parking spaces cannot be consistent with the council’s transport and environmental objectives. The location 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 also strongly opposed 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 Council cannot on the one hand endorse a ‘business as usual’ development like this, and on the other hand claim that it is pursuing enlightened transport and environmental policies which minimise the impact of the car and make the public realm a much better place for walkers, cyclists and people using public transport. If a progressive approach to parking cannot be adopted at the Boroughmuir site, where alternatives to the car are myriad, what chance is there that a visionary approach will be taken anywhere else in the city?

We urge you to reach a decision which better reflects the aims of Council transport and environmental policies. Our official objection is here: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/10/23/objection-to-redevelopment-of-boroughmuir-high-school-excessive-car-parking/

Regards

David Spaven
Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group
[4] Living Streets ‘Manifesto for Walking’ is at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/12/21/living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-for-walking/

PEDESTRIAN GROUP HITS OUT AT NEW EDINBURGH DANGER

New building works by Edinburgh’s busy Morrison Street are a danger to pedestrians, says the campaigning group Living Streets [1]. As part of work on a new retail and office development on the old Morrison Street goods yard, the City of Edinburgh Council has closed the pavement on the south side of Morrison Street, forcing people on foot to make five separate pedestrian crossings rather than two previously.

Pedestrians are already using a short-cut along the narrowed vehicle carriageway [2, for photos below], and Living Streets has urged the Council [3] to provide a temporary pavement on the south side of Morrison Street ‘before an accident happens’. Noting that Morrison Street is ‘one of the busiest peak-time pedestrian thoroughfares in the city’, the group say they have raised problems like this across the city many times over the years, and are frustrated that ‘pedestrians remain resolutely at the bottom of the Council’s transport priority list.’ The Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh Group, David Spaven, commented:

‘We have lost count of the number of times we have had to raise with the City Council the problems caused for pedestrians by building works and road works – and the situation is even worse for folk with disabilities. Vehicles are routinely given priority during temporary reconfiguration of the streets, with the convenience and safety of the pedestrian – the most vulnerable street user – left as a complete after-thought. We can only conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong at the heart of the Council’s management. We also consider that the failure to provide adequate crossing facilities for disabled people is a breach of legal obligations.’

Living Streets have also commented in their letter to the Council that:

‘To add long-term insult to short-term injury, we understand that the pedestrian crossing of Dalry Road, just left of the junction with Morrison Street (which currently lies on the ‘desire line’ for pedestrians heading from [Haymarket] station to Morrison Street) is to be shifted southwards to the narrow pavement adjacent to the gable end of Ryrie’s pub, because the Morrison Street developer wants to maximise footfall through the retail development. This is the private profit tail wagging the public interest dog.’

The campaign group have urged action on both fronts from the Council, asking it to (i) install a temporary pavement on the south side of the remaining Morrison Street carriageway, and (ii) to revisit the ‘crass’ decision to relocate the Dalry Road pedestrian crossing.

MORE INFO: David Spaven on 0131-447-7764 / 07917-877399

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

 [1] Living Streets Edinburgh is the local voluntary arm of the national charity which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday’ walking.

[2] See photos below email below to Cllrs Hinds and McVey, Convener and Vice-Convener of the Transport and Environment Committee.

[3] Living Streets Edinburgh 07/02/2017 message to Cllr Hinds and McVey – headed ‘YET MORE INCONVENIENCE AND DANGER FOR EDINBURGH PEDESTRIANS’ – and copied to other Transport and Environment Committee councillors, and local councillors, is below:

 

Cllr Hinds / Cllr McVey

Yet again, Living Streets has to report new building works in Edinburgh which are causing inconvenience and danger to the pedestrian – the most vulnerable street user. The latest example is on Morrison Street – one of the busiest peak-time pedestrian thoroughfares in the city (leading to and from Haymarket station) – where the pavement on the south side has been entirely removed as part of the adjacent retail and office development works. The diversionary route involves five separate pedestrian crossings rather than two, unless of course people risk life and limb by walking on the carriageway, as they have done in a couple of the photos below. We also consider that the failure to provide adequate crossing facilities for disabled people is a breach of legal obligations.

We have raised this kind of problem with the City Council many times over recent years, but it would appear that pedestrians remain resolutely at the bottom of the Council’s transport priority list. The Council had to approve the Section 59 Traffic Management Plan which goes with the building development permit, and we assume that this incorporated a temporary pavement for the major pedestrian flow on the south side of the street. If not, it clearly should have done.

To add long-term insult to short-term injury, we understand that the pedestrian crossing of Dalry Road, just left of the junction with Morrison Street (which currently lies on the ‘desire line’ for pedestrians heading from the station to Morrison Street) is to be shifted southwards, by the narrow pavement adjacent to the gable end of Ryrie’s pub, because the Morrison Street developer wants to maximise footfall through the retail development. This is the private profit tail wagging the public interest dog.

Can you supply us with a copy of the approved Traffic Management Plan as agreed as part of the Section 59 permit process? Before an accident happens, can you also please arrange for installation of a temporary pavement on the south side of the remaining Morrison Street carriageway? And can you revisit the crass decision to relocate the Dalry Road pedestrian crossing?

In view of our continuing frustration with the Council’s evident inability to change course on pedestrian priority, we are copying this correspondence directly to the Edinburgh Evening News and STV.

Regards

David Spaven

Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group

 Photos of Morrison Street, looking towards Haymarket, taken 07/02/2017 (off-peak):

 

Living Streets Edinburgh Manifesto for Walking

With Council elections taking place on 4 May 2017, Living Streets Edinburgh is asking all political parties to include measures in their manifestos that will make walking in Edinburgh safer, easier and more enjoyable. Edinburgh is a naturally ‘walkable’ city but conditions for pedestrians are often wholly inadequate. Yet despite barriers to walking almost every one walks.

We want City of Edinburgh Council to build on this and to support our aim to make Edinburgh a truly world class city for people walking.
Here are our four ‘big ideas’ :

  • Transform Street Management
  • Invest Much More in Walking
  • Make a Comprehensive Traffic Plan for the City Centre
  • Pedestrianise George Street

living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-front

living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-back

 

Response to consultation on Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route proposal

You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route

We welcome the measures included in this proposal to improve walking, although these are often fragmented and largely incidental to the continuous corridor-based approach to the cycling design – a particular example being the lack of continuous footways (avoiding changes of level for pedestrians) across side streets where they join the cycle corridor, despite this being a requirement of the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance (ESDG).

Worryingly, we have identified a number of other instances of the route design failing to comply with the ESDG. A fundamental principle of all such schemes is that designs should explicitly conform to the ESDG for the category/categories of street affected. Until the adoption of finalised Detailed Design Sheets for the ESDG, the latter’s Design Principles (as already adopted by the Council) should be adhered to, for example with regard to frequency of pedestrian crossing points, footway width, decluttering, crossfalls, improvements of currently sub-standard pedestrian crossing facilities and junction corner radii (amongst many other issues). These Principles are Council policy, and should also be adhered to in order to avoid the Council being subject to legal challenge under the Equality Act duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist protected groups.

We suggest that a workshop or seminar should be held in order to get the design right for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Key points of principle

Space:

  1. An increase (or no net loss) of pedestrian space.
  2. Footways meet recommended widths.
  3. Conflicts with cyclists are avoided, with dedicated and well-defined space provided for pedestrians (including separated ‘tiger’ crossings).

Crossings:

  1. Junctions make foot crossing easier by being raised, with radii of corners and widths minimised
  2. In busier areas, controlled crossings are provided in convenient places, with acceptable waiting and crossing times.
  3. Pedestrian priority is made clear at all the key crossing points of the cycle routes, eg with continuous footways across side streets at junctions.

Equalities:

  1. The design incorporates features to assist people with disabilities, including dropped kerbs (where continuous footways are not feasible), seating and tactile paving.

Public realm:

  1. The footway is made free from clutter.
  2. Guardrails are avoided / removed.

Impact of traffic:

  1. If the area is a residential or shopping street or busy pedestrian route the speed is 20mph and the design helps to achieve this speed.
  2. The level of parking and access to motor vehicles is appropriate and does not dominate the space.

You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route

overall-plan