Category Archives: Press Release

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.’

Continue reading Walking Campaigners Welcome Festival Traffic Ban Success

Council Transport Delivery ‘Seriously Imbalanced’ Against Pedestrians

The City of Edinburgh Council is paying ‘lip service’ to the importance of walking in its transport policies, while doing  very little in practice to make Edinburgh more walking friendly, says the city’s pedestrian campaign group, Living Streets Edinburgh [1]. The group says it is ‘shocked’ that out of 44 Active Travel projects being developed by the Council in 2017-18, only seven are for walking, compared to 37 for cycling [2]. In a letter to the Transport spokespersons for each political group on the Council, Living Streets says:

‘We have also seen over recent months other evidence of the low priority given to walking in practice, despite the lip service often given to it by the Council. During the recent icy weather, a common sight all across the city was pedestrians walking in the road because un-gritted pavements were too dangerous to walk on. We also see dozens of cycle parking racks being installed on city pavements despite the Council’s commitment in its own business plan to reduce pavement clutter’

 The Group’s Convenor, David Spaven, commented: Continue reading Council Transport Delivery ‘Seriously Imbalanced’ Against Pedestrians

Picardy Place Scheme Must Be Safe For People On Foot, Says Walking Group

The detailed design of the controversial Picardy Place traffic scheme must ensure that it is safe and convenient for people to get around the area on foot, says the local walking campaign group. Living Streets Edinburgh [1] has responded to the City Council’s decision to back the controversial gyratory roundabout design by setting out a detailed list of measures [2] which they say are essential to avoid conditions getting worse for pedestrians. David Spaven, Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, which campaigns for ‘everyday’ walking, commented:

‘It’s unacceptable that the Council should be proposing a design which would actually make life worse for pedestrians, through more circuitous road crossings, narrower footway sections, and cycling /walking conflicts where new cycleways bisect footways. So we’ve put together a two-page list of key design principles which would ensure that it will be easier for people to cross roads using direct routes and following desire lines.

‘A fundamental principle is that the design details must comply with the Council’s own Street Design Guidance, so, for example, footways should be at least 4 metres wide, providing plenty of space for pedestrians, pushchairs and people with disabilities.

‘Another big concern is the planned ‘Floating Bus Stops’ on Leith Street, which will bisect the east side footway and make life more difficult for bus passengers, unless the Council applies the highest possible design standards to avoid conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.’

[1] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local volunteer arm of the national charity campaigning for ‘everyday’ walking.

[2] Living Streets Edinburgh 2-page position statement on the detailed design of Picardy Place can be found here – Living-Streets-position-statement-Picardy-Place-detailed-design

Picardy Place Decision ‘Embarrassing For Councillors’

The City Council decision to back the controversial Picardy Place gyratory roundabout will be a ‘continuing embarrassment’ to those Councillors who approved the plan, say local walking campaigners. Living Streets Edinburgh [1] criticised the decision of Transport & Environment Councillors from the Conservative, Labour and SNP groups for giving the green light to what the walking campaigners describe as ‘a 1960s’ solution to a 21st century problem’ Living Streets Edinburgh Convenor, David Spaven, commented:

‘Councillors – other than the visionary Greens – have backed a fundamentally flawed plan, which runs completely counter to the Council’s own transport policies. We now face the deplorable prospect that the Council’s design will make the Picardy Place and Leith Street even worse for pedestrians than it is at present. This will surely be a continuing embarrassment to these councillors, unless big changes are made to the detail of the design in the months ahead.

‘We will be pressing strongly for design improvements by Council officers to reduce the negative impact of more circuitous road crossings, narrower pavements and cycling /walking conflicts where new cycleways bisect pavements.’

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

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