Category Archives: News

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    • The design is outdated and has not been subject to modern standards of consultation which focus on ‘place making’ in the public realm.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.

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

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.