Category Archives: Press Release

COUNCIL SLATED FOR CREATING OVER 1,000 NEW CITY CENTRE PARKING SPACES

It has been revealed that the City of Edinburgh Council is planning to boost city-centre car-parking spaces by 12%, despite the local authority’s supposed aspiration to cut traffic levels across Edinburgh. The local walking campaign, Living Streets Edinburgh Group [1], has discovered through a Freedom of Information request by one of its members [2] that the Council plans to introduce 1,206 more parking spaces on city centre streets. The campaigners say that this will undermine confidence in the ability to deliver a safer, cleaner city, its Convenor, Don McKee, commenting:

 ‘We’ve been strongly supportive of the Council’s visionary plans for a more walking-friendly city centre. But this revelation – adding the equivalent of 5.5 kilometres of car parking space on our streets – is either breathtakingly hypocritical or it suggests that the Council’s left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is trying to do.’

‘Extra parking takes valuable public space away from walking, cycling and buses – and it means more traffic on the roads, directly conflicting with the Council’s stated vision. Yet walking is designated as the top priority in the Scottish Government’s planning policies [3]. It’s time for the Council to properly recognise this in its programmes and projects for the city. ‘Business as usual’ – with the car as king – is simply not an option when we’re trying to tackle the climate emergency.’

Analysis of the FoI reply indicates that parking spaces in some streets will be boosted far beyond the 12% average – examples being Grove Street (30%), Mayfield Terrace (34%) and Blenheim Place (38%). Full street-by-street details can be found here: http://bit.ly/3bm3yq3

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local volunteer arm of Living Streets, the national charity for ‘everyday walking’, see: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk

[2] The Freedom of Information request asked, in relation to Traffic Regulation Order TRO19/29 for detail of (i) number of parking spaces added and removed per street, and (ii) distance in meters of parking space added and removed per street. See: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/traffic_regulation_order_tro1929?nocache=incoming-1511839#incoming-1511839

[3] Paragraph 273 of ‘Scottish Planning Policy’ states that: ‘Plans should identify active travel networks and promote opportunities for travel by more sustainable modes in the following order of priority: walking, cycling, public transport, cars. The aim is to promote development which maximises the extent to which its travel demands are met first through walking, then cycling, then public transport and finally through use of private cars.’ See: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-planning-policy/

END OF RELEASE

WALKING CAMPAIGN CALLS FOR MORE ACTION ON STREET CLUTTER AFTER A-BOARD BAN SUCCESS

Following the success [1] of the City of Edinburgh Council’s ban on pavement advertising boards (A-boards), the local walking campaign has called for further action to clear the city’s pavements of clutter. Living Streets Edinburgh Group [2], which campaigned for years for the Council to tackle the A-board problem, says further measures are needed to build on the A-board action to create safe, obstruction-free pavements across the city. David Hunter of Living Streets Edinburgh commented:

“ ‘A-board’ clutter had become a significant problem on many Edinburgh streets, especially because so many pavements aren’t wide enough. The ban has made it easier, safer and more enjoyable to walk in many local streets across the city. But there are still far too many obstructions on pavements: waste bins need to be sensibly sited, roadworks signs managed properly and unnecessary signage poles removed. All pavements should have an absolute minimum ‘clear zone’ of 1.5 metres for pedestrians as laid down in the Council’s own Street Design Guidance [3]. And in residential areas, hedges are too often allowed to grow over pavements, obstructing safe passage by pedestrians.”

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

 1.      A report on the success of the A-board ban is to be discussed at the City Council’s Transport & Environment Committee on Thursday 5th December.

2.      Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary branch of Living Streets, the national charity promoting ‘everyday walking’: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/

3.      Edinburgh Street Design Guidance is at http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/file/11626/p3_-_footways_-_version_11

 

WALKING CAMPAIGNERS URGE COUNCIL TO STEP-UP 20MPH ENFORCEMENT

Following the announcement that the City of Edinburgh Council’s 20 mph programme has reduced average vehicle speeds by 1.3 mph (about 6%), local walking campaigners have called on the Council to step-up enforcement and to introduce traffic-calming measures at key speeding blackspots across the city.

Don McKee, the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh Group [1] said:

‘We strongly support the 20mph initiative which has already made a significant improvement to Edinburgh streets. However, because there is so little chance of being caught by the police, in free-flowing traffic situations too many motorists are able to drive at excessive speeds. We can’t rely on signage alone to eliminate this kind of antisocial behaviour. We want to see more enforcement action by Police Scotland, including wider use of speed cameras, and traffic calming measures introduced on particular problem streets.’

 

1] 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/

Walking Campaigners Call For Pedestrianisation Of Key Streets At 2019 Edinburgh Festivals

 Key Edinburgh city centre streets should be pedestrianised for the 2019 festivals following ‘intolerable’ experiences for pedestrians this year, says the local walking campaign group, Living Streets Edinburgh [1]. In a letter [2] to City Council Leader, Adam McVey, the group’s Convenor, David Spaven, says:

‘Living Streets Edinburgh has been calling for restrictions on private traffic during the summer festival for several years[1]. We believe that the experience for pedestrians, hemmed into narrow streets surrounded by traffic has become intolerable. The festival experience would be hugely enhanced – and made much safer – by excluding much motor traffic from city centre streets during August. Each year, this becomes more urgent; in 2018 it has come to the stage that new barriers have been widely used to keep pedestrians out of the road.’

The group suggests that many of the busiest streets should be pedestrianised, or restricted for general motor traffic, with ‘obvious candidates’ being Cowgate (where the precedent of banning traffic at night has been in place for around 20 years), Lawnmarket and the Royal Mile. They also recommend that the option of planning a significant expansion of public transport at festival time, within the city and to the city, should be considered, especially at night and weekends.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

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

[2] Text of message sent to Cllr McVey on 28 August 2018:

 

Dear Cllr McVey

 As you know, Living Streets Edinburgh has been calling for restrictions on private traffic during the summer festival for several years[1]. We believe that the experience for pedestrians, hemmed into narrow streets surrounded by traffic has become intolerable. The festival experience would be hugely enhanced – and made much safer – by excluding much motor traffic from city centre streets during August. Each year, this becomes more urgent; in 2018 it has come to the stage that new barriers have been widely used to keep pedestrians out of the road.

While we welcome the introduction of traffic restrictions in Cockburn Street for the first time this year, this is far from enough. We’re therefore repeating our call for a thorough review of traffic for next year’s festival, with the aim of making many of the busiest streets pedestrianised, or restricted for general motor traffic. Obvious candidates are the Cowgate (where the precedent of banning traffic at night has been in place for around 20 years), Lawnmarket and the Royal Mile, although there are many other streets which would benefit from excluding traffic.

 So long as adequate notice is given, there is no reason why this should cause difficulty to businesses and venues in arranging deliveries, waste collection etc at permitted times. Clearly the needs of some motor traffic, such as public transport, disabled motorists and possibly taxis requires some consideration.

 However, in addition to the need for traffic restraint, we believe that this year’s festival has raised some wider issues about the management of Edinburgh as a ‘festival city’. While we recognise the many benefits that the festival brings to the city, the restriction of entry to, and views into, Princes Street Gardens generated a lot of public debate about the use of public spaces and the extent to which it is acceptable to restrict them to the public. At times the public transport system has seemed barely able to cope, with passengers turned away from full buses and trains, sometimes when there are infrequent evening and weekend services. 

 We therefore hope that there will be a thorough review of the festival which considers the potential benefit and impacts of curtailing traffic, but also takes account of these wider issues. For example, the option of planning a significant expansion of public transport within the city and to the city should be considered, especially at night and weekends. There will no doubt be many other options which can be considered to improve the festival experience for both residents and visitors, while continuing to welcome all the benefits that the festival brings.

 We hope that this request will receive your support, and that of Councillors responsible for transport, culture etc, and other festivals partners.

 Regards

 David Spaven

Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group

 

[1] https://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2015/11/16/car-free-edinburgh-for-festival-for-2016/

Walking Campaigners Welcome Festival Traffic Ban Success

Walking campaigners have hailed the City Council’s ban on vehicle traffic from two Old Town streets during the forthcoming August festivals. David Spaven, the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh Group, commented:

‘We’ve been pressing the Council for several years to tackle this growing problem of lack of space for pedestrians in the city centre during the peak summer season. So, we’re delighted they’ve taken up our idea. Banning traffic from Cockburn Street and Blair Street is an important step towards creating a civilised city centre which is safe and convenient for all pedestrians. But it should be just the start of a more ambitious programme – with growing safety concerns along Cowgate, we feel this traffic-dominated street should be an early priority for treatment.’

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