An Edinburgh campaign group has called for City of Edinburgh Council to undertake a ‘blitz’ on advertising ‘A-boards’ and other street clutter. The call was made by Living Streets Edinburgh  which campaigns for pedestrians’ interests, at its annual public meeting last night .
“Many of Edinburgh’s pavements resemble an obstacle course”  said the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Spaven. “It is often impossible for people to walk two abreast even in busy shopping streets such as South Bridge, Home Street and Raeburn Place. The number of A-boards appears to be increasing every year and they are getting bigger too; this is making our streets more and more unpleasant and difficult to use, at a time when we are supposed to be promoting walking for the economic, health and environmental benefits it brings. A-boards also represent a specific hazard for blind people.”
“We don’t want to see bare streets stripped of their local character, but there must be a fundamental review of Council policy in this area, together with a blitz of effective enforcement, as this type of street clutter is getting out of hand” he added.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary branch of Living Streets, the national charity promoting everyday walking.
The LSEG meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Victoria Street was attended by 60 members and supporters of Living Streets.
We were appalled to see how narrow the pavement is on the Castle side of Johnston Terrace, after the works to install a ‘rock trap’ to catch falling rocks from Castle Rock were finished recently. The pavement is only 1.5 metres wide – well short of the 2.5 metre “absolute minimum” required by the Council’s own (excellent) Street Design Guidance.
Having looked into the history of this, it is almost as appalling to read the report to the Development Management Sub Committee 14 January 2015, which states
“Whilst this width is below that recommended in the council’s …guidelines it is considered, given the relatively low use of this footway, to be an be acceptable departure from standards in this instance. However as two wheelchairs or buggies will be unable to pass each other on a footway of this width the applicant was advised that uncontrolled crossing points on either side of the narrowing were required.”
We have raised this with the Council – not only the inadequacy of this pavement (which is far from “low use”) but also the wider issue of how keen the Council appears to be to ignore its own guidance.
Ten leading disability and environmental Scottish charities (1), brought together by Living Streets’ Edinburgh Group (2), have written to the Scottish Government urging action to be taken to turn Holyrood Park into a safe and attractive space for all.
While the city of Edinburgh gears up to reduce speeds to 20 mph, most of the sprawling park, meant to provide leisure opportunities for residents and visitors alike, remains a 30 mph limit with only one pedestrian crossing. The call follows concerns about the growing number of traffic accidents in the park (3).
The ten co-signing charities are calling for Historic Environment Scotland to review visitor access and safety arrangements in the park more generally at a time when Historic Environment Scotland is consulting on its corporate plan (4).
David Spaven, Convener, Living Streets Edinburgh, said:
“Holyrood Park is a unique green space, close to the heart of Edinburgh, but it’s become far too dominated by the speed and noise of vehicle traffic.
“People who want to enjoy this special park quietly and safely face far too many obstacles – speeding traffic, hardly any safe road crossings, and pedestrians and cyclists forced to use narrow ‘shared space’ paths.
“The time is right for Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government to consider transport priorities for the park, with the needs of people on foot put right at the top of the list.”
“We want Holyrood Park to be a safe place that can be accessed and enjoyed by everybody. At the moment, the high volumes of traffic not only affect the air quality and noise but also people’s perception of how safe the park is.
“This can be very off-putting for many people with sight loss and can result in them not using the park, therefore denying themselves the pleasures of the great outdoors and being fit and healthy.”
John Lauder, National Director, Sustrans Scotland, said:
”While City of Edinburgh Council is rolling out 20mph zones across the city, the iconic Holyrood Park is being left behind. Right now it’s just not living up to its potential as a safe, attractive space for people on foot and bike to enjoy.
“In Scotland we have strong, cross-party support for walking and cycling and a government that has invested record levels in active travel over the past couple of years. Yet, on the door-step of the Parliament, one of Scotland’s most iconic parks is being used a rat-run – to the detriment of its users and those who live in the neighbouring communities.
“We want Holyrood Park to reflect Scotland’s ambition on active travel, by making it a safe attractive space for people making journeys on foot and by bike.”
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief Executive, added his support to the campaign:
“Traditionally urban parks have been viewed as the ‘lungs of the city’ and we fear that given the current situation Edinburgh’s ‘lungs’ are being unnecessarily harmed.
“Holyrood Park could be a wonderful space for people of all ages to engage in an activity, such as walking or cycling, to enhance wellbeing and quality of life.
“Yet, given the current infrastructural prevalence for vehicular traffic this means that many people are put off from venturing into Holyrood Park. We urge the authorities to re-consider this so that Holyrood Park can rightfully be restored as a beneficial place for citizens and visitors alike to enjoy to its full potential.”
RNIB Scotland, Guide Dogs Scotland, Age Scotland, Spokes (Lothian Cycle Campaign), Sustrans Scotland, Paths for All, Living Streets Scotland, Transform Scotland and Ramblers Scotland
Living Streets Edinburgh is a local campaign group of Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. We want to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and making walking the natural choice. We believe that a walking nation means progress for everyone.Our ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking. For more than 85 years we’ve been a beacon for walking. In our early days our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits. Now, our campaigns and local projects deliver real change to overcome barriers to walking and our ground breaking initiatives such as the world’s biggest Walk to School campaign encourage millions of people to walk.