All posts by Living Streets Edinburgh

Leith Street TRO and RSO – Response to re-advertisement

Living Streets Edinburgh Group has previously objected to RSO 17/13 on the grounds stated in Appendix A.  In response to a re-advertisement of the RSO, along with advertisement of TRO 17/81, we re-state our objection to the RSO, and state our objections to the TRO, on the following grounds:

  1. Greenways/ Bus priority: The TRO removes all Greenways restrictions on Leith Street. This not only removes valuable bus priority but also the ‘no stopping’ restrictions. We cannot understand why the Council would wish to do this and we object to the Order.
  2. Footway widths: since our initial objection, we have been provided with more detail on footway widths. While we do acknowledge that there are improvements from the current substandard pavements – some of the busiest in the city – it is our understanding that 32 out of 67 sections of footway will not meet the ‘desirable minimum’ of ‘4 metres or wider’ set out in the Street Design Guidance (SDG). Two sections will not even meet the ‘absolute minimum’ of 2.5 m laid down in the SDG, the worst of which is at the very south end of Leith Street (east side) near its junction with Waterloo Place – a key pedestrian pinch-point. The latter is the result of accommodating three lanes of road carriageway, rather than reducing this to two lanes for bus and cycle use only. In a major development such as this, in the very heart of the city, it is unacceptable that the Council’s own minimum standards are not fully achieved.
  3. Junction of Leith Street/Waterloo Place: Following on from the inadequate pavement width noted above, we propose that Leith Street, south of the access to the car parks in Greenside Place and the St JamesCentre, should be restricted to buses, cyclists and pedestrians only until the ‘City Centre Transformation’ initiative has been completed. One benefit of this would be to allow widening of the footway pinch-point at the very south end of Leith Street (east side) near its junction with Waterloo Place by limiting the carriageway to two, rather than three lanes, for bus and cycle use only. Some consideration of the wider effect on traffic flows would of course be needed, and possibly measures such as street closures implemented to avoid problematic ‘rat-running’. However not all traffic which previously used Leith Street would in any case return after the current closure of Leith Street ends as some ‘evaporation’ of traffic would be expected. The current closure of Leith Street is an important opportunity to begin wider strategic consideration of traffic management in the city, which must not be missed.
  4. The proposed split footways on Leith Street north of the Calton Road junction reduce their effective width and utility for pedestrians. This would be even more inconvenient and hazardous for walking on the section between the Greenside Row and Calton Road junctions, where it is proposed that the cycleway should switch, mid-block, from one side of the footway to the other. This is a recipe for pedestrian/cyclist conflict, with the most vulnerable street users (including pedestrians who are frail or have a disability) likely to come off worst.
  5. We maintain our previous objection to the RSO as stated in the appendix.

 

David Hunter
for Living Streets Edinburgh Group
Thorn House
5 Rose Street
Edinburgh
EH2 2PR

11 December 2017

 

Apendix

RSO/17/13 Leith Street, Calton Road, Greenside Row, Waterloo Place

Living Streets Edinburgh Group objects to RSO 17/13 on the following grounds:

1) All – pavement widths

Leith Street is designated as a Strategic High Street, according to the Street Design Guidance adopted by the Council in 2015 (i). This specifies that the pavement should be a minimum width of 3 metres (2.5 metres allowed only in short sections), with a desirable minimum width of 4m or wider. We cannot determine the exact pavement widths from the drawings, but it is clear that the pavement widths proposed in the order are far below the Council’s own specified standards on both sides of the street.

(i) http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/download/550/edinburgh_street_design_guidance

 

2) Crossing point of Leith Street East at Greenside Row

The drawing seems to imply that the entire pavement both the north and south sides of the Greenside Row corner is re-determined as cycle way from both footway and carriageway (10, 12, 16, 13). This leaves no footway whatsoever exclusively for pedestrians crossing Greenside Row. The drawing suggest that pedestrians are expected to wait in a designated cycle way before crossing Greenside Row. This is a busy pavement at all times – and is already excessively busy at certain times of the year (eg during the August festivals). It is unacceptable that pedestrians at this location should mix with cyclists. Of course, it would also be also extremely unhelpful for cyclists to encounter pedestrians on the cycle track.

 

3) Junction of Leith Street East at Greenside Row

The corner radii of Greenside Row (at 10, 16) are excessively large, which will encourage vehicles to travel fast when entering and exiting Leith Street. This is an inappropriate design for a 20 mph street. The Street Design Guidance (see above) specifies that the maximum radius for a corner of this type of street is 3 metres, and although not shown, the radii proposed are clearly far in excess of this.

 

4) Cycle manoeuvres, Leith Street (west) to Greenside Row

We are unclear what manoeuvres cyclists are expected to make heading north from the west side of Leith Street (6) to join the cycle track on the east side (10). We are concerned at the risk of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians involved in this manoeuvre.

5) Junction of Leith Street (east) at Calton Road

It is our understanding that the junction of Leith Street and Calton Road will be governed by a signalised crossing, although this does not appear to be indicated on the drawings. We would support this, so long as adequate pedestrian priority is provided in signal timings to permit the heavy pedestrian traffic to proceed effectively north/south. However, we have concerns that the cycle track on Leith Street heading south ends abruptly at Calton Road (10). There could be conflict at this junction between pedestrians and cyclists wishing to continue south, for example to the Bridges,

 

6) ‘Floating Bus Stop’ Leith Street (East).

The drawing shows a ‘floating bus stop’ (17). Living Streets’ opposes the further introduction of this feature until an objective and thorough monitoring is completed on the first such floating stop, introduced on Leith Walk (ii). This is because we are concerned at the risk of conflict between pedestrians (especially elderly and or disabled bus passengers alighting from a bus) and cyclists, where the cycle way lies between the bus stop and the pavement. This would be especially the case if the cycle way is, as we think 2-way, so downhill (northbound) cyclists may be going quite fast. No such monitoring has yet taken place or been planned to our knowledge and so we therefore oppose the redeterminations introducing this feature.

(ii) http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/02/08/living-streets-edinburgh-backs-floating-bus-stop-pilot-on-leith-walk/

 

David Hunter
for Living Streets Edinburgh Group

Thorn House
5 Rose Street
Edinburgh
EH2 2PR

17 October 2017

Response To Picardy Place Consultation – December 2017

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. The consultation process
  3. The fundamental problem: the gyratory system
  4. Specific design issues
  5. Summary of recommended design changes
  6. Conclusions

1 – Introduction

Living Streets Edinburgh is the local voluntary arm of the national charity which campaigns for improved conditions for ‘everyday’ walking. Our manifesto for the 2016 Council Elections set out four key aims for Edinburgh:

  • invest much more in walking
  • make a comprehensive transport plan for the city centre
  • pedestrianise George Street
  • transform street management.

With regard to the latest (17 November) Council proposals for the Picardy Place area, while we welcome some planned improvements over the present highly sub-standard conditions for walking and cycling, we also have major concerns.

Living Streets Edinburgh has long been worried about two key aspects of this scheme: first, the unsatisfactory nature of the ‘consultation’ process; and second, the 1960s’ approach to traffic management, constructing a three-lane road gyratory roundabout system which would be a barrier to walking and cycling.

 

2 – The consultation process

 Unlike the good level of consultation on other adjacent projects such as the West-East cycle route, in the case of Picardy Place – which will be a major change to the public realm – the level of consultation to date has been most unsatisfactory. There appears to have been no formal public consultation between a pre-application consultation in 2013 and a consultation exercise in summer 2017. The ‘ground rules’ seem to have been set dating back to the tram proposals from 2009.

There is a lack of transparency about the relationship between the Council and the developer, with big decisions on traffic and parking being taken behind closed doors before local people and citizens as a whole can have their say. The Council appears to be constrained in its transport decision-making by a historical agreement with the developer which was not open to public scrutiny.

The Council’s latest consultation has only been tinkering at the edges of the traffic scheme, with the central component – the gyratory – evidently not up for discussion.

 

3 – The fundamental problem: the gyratory system

 (I) The proposal

The central component of the Picardy Place traffic plan – and one which has a major impact on space for, and the convenience of, walking and cycling – is a gyratory / roundabout system, with three vehicle lanes on all three sides of a ‘triangular island’ (other than a very short two-lane stretch at its north-east corner).

(ii) The national and local policy context

Key relevant policy documents include the Scottish Government’s ‘Designing Streets’ (2010) which sets out the need for street design to change the emphasis ‘ towards place-making and away from a system focused upon the dominance of motor vehicles.’

The Council’s ‘Edinburgh Street Design Guidance’ (2015) includes commitments to ‘follow a design process that starts by considering the street as a place for people and recognising that streets have an important non-transport role’ and that the Council ‘will always prioritise improving conditions for pedestrians, especially for those with mobility impairments or other disabilities, for cyclists and for public transport users.’

The outcomes set out in the Council’s ‘Local Transport Strategy 2014-2019’ include a transport system ‘with an emphasis on encouraging walking, cycling and public transport use and a high quality public realm’, which is ‘part of a well planned, physically accessible, sustainable city that reduces dependency on car travel, with a public transport system, walking and cycling conditions to be proud of’, and in which ‘everyone should be able to get around the city regardless of income or disability.’ Elsewhere (Section 4.5) the document notes that: ‘Although this strategy is about moving around, it is also about reducing the need for motorised travel, especially car travel. Less car traffic helps make a city a safer and more pleasant place to live, as well as an attractive place to invest.’ This qualitative objective is reinforced by a specific quantitative aim to reduce the car’s share of all vehicular traffic on the city’s streets from 42% in 2010 to 29% in 2020.

It should be noted that these policies are succeeding, as evidenced by the 2011 Census, Spokes traffic counts and other data. Edinburgh now has higher proportions of people who walk, cycle and take the bus to work than anywhere else in Scotland, and a declining proportion of people who drive to work.

The Council’s City Centre Transformation process is intended to lead to substantial reductions in city centre vehicle traffic. New developments such as the St James Centre and the associated Picardy Place traffic plan should be helping to maintain the admirable recent modal shift trends and achievements, not putting them at risk by accommodating excessive levels of car traffic.

(iii) The problems with a gyratory

Acceptance of a gyratory undermines the Council’s wider transport mode share and mode prioritisation objectives. By providing for predicted traffic levels – ‘accommodating’ rather than ‘restraining’ traffic in line with policy objectives, and prioritising the associated flow of vehicles – the gyratory inevitably has impacts on other competing users of street space: pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. It should be noted that London has a comprehensive programme for removing major gyratory roundabouts due to their impacts on pedestrians and cyclists. Edinburgh should not be re-inventing the gyratory!

Many of the detailed flaws of the latest Picardy Place design can be traced back to the impact of the gyratory on (a) a finite amount of street space, and (b) the obstruction of key pedestrian ‘desire lines’. These are examined in some detail in Section 4 below.

It has been claimed by Council officials that replacing the gyratory with a T or Y junction (removing the western traffic arm of the gyratory) cannot accommodate predicted traffic levels. But the traffic modelling is based on 2014 traffic levels, and with Leith Street closed to vehicular traffic for 44 weeks, a significant proportion of this traffic will simply not return as and when the road re-opens.

To avoid conflict with the Council’s strategic transport objectives, it should be looking to reduce the future demand for car journeys in this important part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site – by cutting planned road capacity and maximising the opportunities for public transport, walking and cycling.

The Picardy Place scheme should be an integral part of a forward-looking city centre transport and traffic plan, not designed in isolation. Reducing road capacity in the Picardy Place area needs to be carefully planned on an ‘area-wide’ traffic management basis to avoid problems of crude displacement of traffic from one street to another.

 

4 – Specific design issues

1 – While we welcome the planned reduction of vehicular space compared to the current, highly unsatisfactory situation, there is still far too much emphasis on providing capacity for vehicles.

Three-lane provision at the main gyratory intersection is ‘accommodating’ rather than ‘restraining’ traffic in line with policy objectives, and is not conducive to safe walking or cycling.

The Council should be considering the potential to remove through traffic on Broughton Street, north of its junction with Picardy Place and York Place – or making it bus only – to simplify the number of traffic movements the junction has to accommodate. This is an important ‘high street’ area and should not be seen simply as a transport corridor. Such considerations need to be part of the city centre transformation plans, and should not be pre-empted by the Picardy Place gyratory.

Given that Leith Street will have been reduced to two lanes for a year, and closed for nearly another year, we question the need for the carriageway to be three / four lanes wide – some of this width would be better allocated to pedestrians and cyclists (see below), including the section of Leith Street where no cycle path is provided.

The option to make the southern section of Leith Street only available for buses, pedestrians and cyclists should be modelled, as should be the impact of permanently re-routing certain bus services (eg No. 5 and No. 34) via Waterloo Place, with de-congestion and journey time benefits.

2 – The gyratory – and accommodating associated traffic levels – creates multi-stage, inconvenient pedestrian crossings, notably at: the north-east corner of the gyratory island (four stages replace two at the current crossing by the Playhouse); the north-west corner (three stages replace two); and at the southern corner (two stages).

The first two of these crossings are circuitous and ignore key ‘desire lines’ for pedestrians; in the case of removing the crossing in front of the Playhouse this would encourage people to risk cutting straight across the cycleway, three traffic lanes and, potentially, two tram tracks. There is no evidence that the Council has modelled the impact of these circuitous crossings on journey times for key pedestrian routes – all the modelling appears to relate to vehicular traffic.Crossings appear to inter-mingle pedestrian and cyclist flows – but these should be segregated to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

While the proposed widening of certain footways is a welcome improvement on the current sub-standard arrangements in much of the area, there appear to remain too many narrow sections of footway on stretches with very heavy footfall. Detailed widths around Picardy Place and the gyratory area are not clear in the latest design plan, but the planned cycleway along York Place (south side) appears to significantly reduce the current footway width.

The layout promoted in the current TRO and redetermination orders for Leith Street shows that 32 out of 67 sections of footway will not meet the ‘desirable minimum’ of ‘4 metres or wider’ set out in the Council’s Street Design Guidance (SDG). Two sections will not even meet the ‘absolute minimum’ of 2.5 m laid down in the SDG, the worst of which is at the very south end of Leith Street (east side) near its junction with Waterloo Place – a key pedestrian pinch-point. The latter is the result of accommodating three lanes of road carriageway, rather than reducing this to two lanes for bus and cycle use only.

4 – Like Spokes, The Lothian Cycle Campaign, we are concerned at the very large areas of footway and public space proposed for conversion to ‘shared space’ between pedestrians and cyclists: first, at three corners of the York Place / Broughton Street / Picardy Place junction; second, adjacent to, and south east of, Little King Street; third, at the crossing of Leith Street at the southern end of the gyratory island; and fourth, at both sides of the Greenside Row junction with Leith Street. This is a recipe for conflict, with the most vulnerable street users (including pedestrians who are frail or have a disability) likely to come off worst.

5 – Pedestrian safety and convenience would be compromised by the proposed creation of some sections of cycleway running through the centre of footways (rather than one being adjacent to the other), also forming a barrier to pedestrians using key bus stops on Leith Street (east side) and Broughton Street (in front of the cathedral). From the pedestrian perspective, it is far preferable to have properly segregated cycleways adjacent to – but not part of – footways.

The proposed split footways on Leith Street north of the Calton Road junction – reducing their effective width and utility for pedestrians – would be even more inconvenient and hazardous for walking on the section between the Greenside Row and Calton Road junctions, where it is proposed that the cycleway should switch, mid-block, from one side of the footway to the other!

6 – While the latest design iteration plan retains much of the important green space and public realm which would have been lost in front of the cathedral, this is compromised from a walking perspective by the cycleway bisecting this space.

To accommodate road vehicles and trams, the entire area of green space and mature trees on the north side of Picardy Place is lost in any conceivable design option. This loss could however be balanced by scrapping the gyratory, removing its south to north-west arm and the isolated ‘island’, and thereby extending north-eastwards the public space in front of the cathedral.

7 – Scrapping the gyratory would also allow improved future interchange between bus and tram (and enhanced connectivity on foot between the proposed tram stop and the St James Centre, encouraging people to arrive by public transport and not by car). Astonishingly, there appear to be no bus-priority measures in the immediate Picardy Place area shown in the latest design plan. As all bus users start and complete their journeys on foot, this is a concern for Living Streets.

5 – Summary of recommended design changes

  1. undertake traffic modelling for a T or Y junction, based on constraining car traffic and enhancing the alternative modes
  2. model journey time impacts for key pedestrian routes affected by the proposed circuitous, multi-stage pedestrian crossings
  3. explore options for (i) bus-only access on the south section of Leith Street (and some bus re-routing along Waterloo Place) and (ii) banning through traffic on (or making bus-only) Broughton Street north of its junction with Picardy Place and York Place
  4. redesign pedestrian crossings to provide high-quality connectivity along pedestrian desire lines – without multiple stages – with pedestrian and cyclist flows segregated
  5. ensure that all footways meet the Street Design Guidance ‘desirable minimum’ width of 4 metres or more
  6. eliminate ‘shared space’ for pedestrians and cyclists, replaced by segregated provision
  7. move segregated cycleways out of the centre of footways, relocating them between the footway and the carriageway
  8. enhance the public realm and green space, by eliminating the gyratory (removing its south to north-west arm and the isolated ‘island’)
  9. improve future interchange on foot between bus and tram, and on foot from bus / tram to the St James Centre, by eliminating the gyratory.

 
6 – Conclusions

The key to securing enhanced facilities for walking (and cycling) is elimination of the gyratory and the associated over-provision of road capacity for cars – both of which are entirely inconsistent with the Council’s own strategic transport objectives for the city centre and Edinburgh as a whole. The current Picardy Place scheme is a traffic plan – but it should be a transport and place plan. We urge the Council to work towards a design which is both a symbolic and very practical demonstration of the importance of (i) walking and (ii) ‘place’ rather than ‘movement’, in this highly-visible and much-used area of the city centre and World Heritage Site.

Living Streets Edinburgh Group / December 2017

Pedestrian Campaigners Call For Picardy Place Gyratory To Be Replaced By ‘People-Friendly’ Solution

Local pedestrian campaigners have urged the City Council to scrap the proposed gyratory roundabout at Picardy Place and replace it with a ‘people-friendly’ street layout. In its formal submission [1] to the Council’s consultation on the controversial traffic proposals for the Picardy Place area, Living Streets Edinburgh Group [2], argues that the gyratory is ‘entirely inconsistent with the Council’s own strategic transport objectives for the city centre and Edinburgh as a whole’ and should be scrapped in favour of expanded public space, wider pavements, and more direct road crossings linking bus stops and a future tram stop with the new St James Centre development. The Group’s Convenor, David Spaven, said:

‘The current Picardy Place scheme is a traffic plan – but it should be a people-friendly plan. We are urging the Council to work towards a design which is both a symbolic and very practical demonstration of the importance of walking and ‘place’ rather than ‘movement’, in this highly-visible and much-used area of the city centre and World Heritage Site.

‘The Council have an overall aim of reducing the car’s share of Edinburgh’s transport [3] – but sticking with a three-lane gyratory at the heart of the city around Picardy Place would simply encourage yet more car traffic. And London has a comprehensive programme for removing major gyratory roundabouts, due to their impacts on pedestrians and cyclists. It would be tragic if Edinburgh were to head in the opposite direction, endorsing dis-credited 1960s approaches to urban transport planning.’

 Other measures in the group’s recommendations to the Council include:

  • exploring options for bus-only access on the south section of Leith Street
  • redesign of pedestrian crossings to provide high-quality connectivity along pedestrian ‘desire lines’
  • ensuring that all footways meet the Street Design Guidance ‘desirable minimum’ width of 4 metres or more
  • eliminating ‘shared space’ for pedestrians and cyclists, replaced by segregated provision
  • moving segregated cycleways out of the centre of footways, relocating them between the footway and the carriageway.

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

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] Living Streets Edinburgh Group consultation response is attached.

[2] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local voluntary arm of the national charity campaigning for better conditions for ‘everyday’ walking. See: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/about/about-living-streets/

[3] The City of Edinburgh Council’s ‘Local Transport Strategy 2014-2019’ refers to ‘reducing the need for motorised travel, especially car travel. Less car traffic helps make a city a safer and more pleasant place to live, as well as an attractive place to invest.’ This qualitative objective is reinforced by a specific quantitative aim to reduce the car’s share of all vehicular traffic on the city’s streets from 42% in 2010 to 29% in 2020.

END OF RELEASE

Picardy Place Position Statement – November 2017 (Updated)

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

 

You can have your say by responding to the official Council consultation on https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/picardy-place

Update 22 November

Amended plans announced by the Council on 17 November involve some modest improvements, including more public space in front of the cathedral, but adding circuitous multi-stage pedestrian crossings, plus a range of potential walking / cycling conflicts. And the massive, 1960s-style, gyratory road system remains in place – this is just not good enough when the Council’s own plans envisage the car’s share of city transport dropping from 42% in 2010 to 29% in 2020.

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.

LSE Objection to multiple Lower Gilmore Place Planning Apps

Dear CEC

Regarding panning apps 17/04462/CON, 17/04235/PPP and 17/04234/FUL (Lower Gilmore Place)

We object to this development on the following grounds.

We are generally supportive of the development because it has a low level of parking provision. As Edinburgh continues to grow, we need to curtail and discourage more car travel from the city. Housing in dense brownfield sites like this this are the most sustainable kind of development, not only for the environment and transport purposes (beaches it is so easy to walk, cycle or go by bus) but also for the neighbourhood economy – local shops, community facilities etc get more customers  This would support council policies which aim to promote car-free or car-lite developments: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/common-issues/policies-of-city-of-edinburgh-council-promoting-car-freecar-light-developments/

However, the public realm in the immediate area is very deficient for people walking, despite this being a key North/South walking route. We would therefore like to see significant improvement in the nearby public realm funded from the developer. These improvements are (in approximate order):

  • Widening the pavement on Leamington Road, and to de-clutter it (almost all signage should come off it). This very important walking route between the Haymarket and Bruntsfield area is absolutely atrocious; the pavement should be at least 2 metres wide (preferably 2.5 metres) to conform to the Council’s own Street Design Guidance  http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20089/roads_and_pavements/906/edinburgh_street_design . Unfortunately, it is hard to see how this can be achieved without removing the existing residents’ parking, which will clearly be unpopular with those that currently park there. Could alternative (off street) spaces be provided for them in the new development ?

      

  • Installing a ‘continuous pavement’ across Leamington Road at the junction with Gilmore Place. There is not even a ‘dropped kerb’ there at present and as a result Gilmore Place is a very difficult place for disabled people to move along. It would be criminal to miss this opportunity to address this (arguably even a breach of the Equality Act?)

   

 

  • Considering stopping up Leamington Road at the Gilmore Place junction, permitting access only by bicycle and on foot. (Vehicle access to be through the eastern end of Lower Gilmore Place)
  • Improving public realm on the north and east sides of Lower Gilmore Place. This might involve removing the canal-side wall to open up views and access to the canal towpath and decluttering the northern pavement of signage (which should have been done when the pavement was recently widened).

     

  • A continuous pavement should be installed across Lower Gilmore Place at the junction with Leamington Road, providing a flat surface for people walking along Leamington Road to and from the lift bridge.

yours sincerely

David Hunter

for Living Streets Edinburgh Group

Living Streets Edinburgh Group objects to Leith Street RSO

RSO/17/13 Leith Street, Calton Road, Greenside Row, Waterloo Place

Living Streets Edinburgh Group objects to RSO 17/13 on the following grounds:

1) All – pavement widths

Leith Street is designated as a Strategic High Street, according to the Street Design Guidance adopted by the Council in 2015 (i). This specifies that the pavement should be a minimum width of 3 metres (2.5 metres allowed only in short sections), with a desirable minimum width of 4m or wider. We cannot determine the exact pavement widths from the drawings, but it is clear that the pavement widths proposed in the order are far below the Council’s own specified standards on both sides of the street.

(i) http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/download/550/edinburgh_street_design_guidance

 

2) Crossing point of Leith Street East at Greenside Row

The drawing seems to imply that the entire pavement both the north and south sides of the Greenside Row corner is re-determined as cycle way from both footway and carriageway (10, 12, 16, 13). This leaves no footway whatsoever exclusively for pedestrians crossing Greenside Row. The drawing suggest that pedestrians are expected to wait in a designated cycle way before crossing Greenside Row. This is a busy pavement at all times – and is already excessively busy at certain times of the year (eg during the August festivals). It is unacceptable that pedestrians at this location should mix with cyclists. Of course, it would also be also extremely unhelpful for cyclists to encounter pedestrians on the cycle track.

 

3) Junction of Leith Street East at Greenside Row

The corner radii of Greenside Row (at 10, 16) are excessively large, which will encourage vehicles to travel fast when entering and exiting Leith Street. This is an inappropriate design for a 20 mph street. The Street Design Guidance (see above) specifies that the maximum radius for a corner of this type of street is 3 metres, and although not shown, the radii proposed are clearly far in excess of this.

 

4) Cycle manoeuvres, Leith Street (west) to Greenside Row

We are unclear what manoeuvres cyclists are expected to make heading north from the west side of Leith Street (6) to join the cycle track on the east side (10). We are concerned at the risk of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians involved in this manoeuvre.

5) Junction of Leith Street (east) at Calton Road

It is our understanding that the junction of Leith Street and Calton Road will be governed by a signalised crossing, although this does not appear to be indicated on the drawings. We would support this, so long as adequate pedestrian priority is provided in signal timings to permit the heavy pedestrian traffic to proceed effectively north/south. However, we have concerns that the cycle track on Leith Street heading south ends abruptly at Calton Road (10). There could be conflict at this junction between pedestrians and cyclists wishing to continue south, for example to the Bridges,

 

6) ‘Floating Bus Stop’ Leith Street (East).

The drawing shows a ‘floating bus stop’ (17). Living Streets’ opposes the further introduction of this feature until an objective and thorough monitoring is completed on the first such floating stop, introduced on Leith Walk (ii). This is because we are concerned at the risk of conflict between pedestrians (especially elderly and or disabled bus passengers alighting from a bus) and cyclists, where the cycle way lies between the bus stop and the pavement. This would be especially the case if the cycle way is, as we think 2-way, so downhill (northbound) cyclists may be going quite fast. No such monitoring has yet taken place or been planned to our knowledge and so we therefore oppose the redeterminations introducing this feature.

(ii) http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/02/08/living-streets-edinburgh-backs-floating-bus-stop-pilot-on-leith-walk/

 

David Hunter
for Living Streets Edinburgh Group

Thorn House
5 Rose Street
Edinburgh
EH2 2PR

17 October 2017

LSE GROUP – ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING 2017

Thursday 28 September at 7pm
Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Street EH1 2JL

You are invited to attend the 2017 Public Meeting of Living Streets Edinburgh, the local voluntary arm of the national charity campaigning for ‘everyday walking’. We’ve had a busy year, raising the profile of walking in the city, and engaging with Councillors and officers of the City of Edinburgh Council on a wide range of public realm issues.

Come along to catch up on our news, to hear from the new Convenor of the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee, and to feed in your ideas to workshop sessions on walking route campaign priorities for the city centre and localities across Edinburgh during 2017-18.

AGENDA:

18.40 Registration; tea, coffee and biscuits

19.00 Welcome and update from David Spaven, Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh Group

19.10 Keynote address by Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Convenor, Transport and Environment Committee, CEC

19.30 Question time

19.45 The national perspective from Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland

19.55 Workshop sessions:

  • Topic 1: Identifying strategic walking routes in the city centre and key pinch points / barriers
  • Topic 2: Identifying strategic walking routes in localities across the city and key pinch points / barriers

20.20 Swop workshop sessions

20.45 Sum-up

21.00 Meeting closes.

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