Category Archives: Press Release

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.

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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.’

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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:

 

LSE delighted at proposal for fundamental review of Advertising Board Policy

Living Streets Edinburgh is delighted that the City Council’s Transport and Environment Committee is being recommended to back undertaking a strategic review of the growing problem of A-board clutter across the city. As the Committee paper – http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/53632/item_76_-_a_boards  – acknowledges:

Concerns have been raised by organisations including community councils, Living Streets and the Council’s Access Panel that street clutter is impeding the ability for pedestrians to move through the city safely, and that the situation is worsening.’

Feedback from our supporters shows that A-boards:

  • are widely disliked by the public
  • narrow the walking space on pavements, often contravening the Council’s own Street Design Guidance
  • cause obstructions and sometimes hazards, for example for visually impaired people, which is potentially unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Since organising – in conjunction with Tollcross Community Council and the Edinburgh Access Panel members – a representative street audit at Tollcross in late 2015, we have been pressing the City Council to undertake just such a strategic review of policy – and its enforcement. http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/consultation-responses/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh-summary-of-recommendations/

If Councillors back the recommendation, we will be fully consulted by officers. Other UK cities have undertaken such reviews, with the result that A-boards are licensed, better controlled or simply banned.  Edinburgh’s review should cover what should be allowed on which streets and how the rules are enforced. The issue has wider implications of course – on the quality of public space in the city, the vitality of its businesses and the potential for better Council management of our streets – the latter being one of the four proposals in our ‘Manifesto for Walking’ in the run-up to the Council Elections in May. at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/12/21/living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-for-walking/ ‘

Campaigners Urge Car Clamp-Down At Old Boroughmuir School Site

Walking campaigners have reacted angrily to news that City Council officials are recommending that councillors approve 95 car parking spaces for the residential development of the Boroughmuir School site in Bruntsfield. Councillors at the Council’s 22nd March Development Management Sub-Committee meeting are being advised by officials to approve the development, but Living Streets Edinburgh Group [1] – which officially objected to the transport elements of the proposal [2] – has written [3] to the Councillors urging them to drastically cut parking provision for a site which they say is extremely well sited for alternatives to the car. The Group’s Convenor, David Spaven said:

‘…a development with 95 parking spaces cannot be consistent with the council’s transport and environmental objectives. The location is extremely well-sited for travel by bus (eight frequent, regular services within three minutes’ walk), bicycle and on foot. The sustainability of the local Bruntsfield area will be enhanced by a car-free development which is actively aimed at people attracted to a car-free lifestyle.

‘The Council cannot on the one hand endorse a ‘business as usual’ development like this, and on the other hand claim that it is pursuing enlightened transport and environmental policies which minimise the impact of the car and make the public realm a much better place for walkers, cyclists and people using public transport. If a progressive approach to parking cannot be adopted at the Boroughmuir site, where alternatives to the car are myriad, what chance is there that a visionary approach will be taken anywhere else in the city?’

With Council Elections looming, Living Streets is urging candidates to back its ‘Manifesto for Walking’ [4] which calls for (i) transformed street management across the city, reducing clutter on pavements, (ii) much more investment in walking, including wider pavements and better road crossings, (iii) a comprehensive traffic plan for the city centre, to make the public realm safer and more pleasant for people on foot, and (iv) the pedestrianisation of George Street, to put Edinburgh on a par with competing cities across Europe.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local voluntary arm of Living Streets, the national charity which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday walking’

[2} Living Streets official objection is at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/10/23/objection-to-redevelopment-of-boroughmuir-high-school-excessive-car-parking/

[3] Text of 16 March 2017 email to Councillors on the Development Management Sub-Committee:

Dear Councillors

With reference to the Development Management Sub-Committee meeting next Wednesday, Living Streets Edinburgh Group is dismayed to hear that ‘Having considered the submitted supporting information, the council as roads authority has no objection to the proposal on road safety grounds’.

As we noted in our objection, a development with 95 parking spaces cannot be consistent with the council’s transport and environmental objectives. The location is extremely well-sited for travel by bus (eight frequent, regular services within three minutes’ walk), bicycle and on foot. The sustainability of the local Bruntsfield area will be enhanced by a car-free development which is actively aimed at people attracted to a car-free lifestyle. We also strongly opposed the suggestion that there should be 16 new on-street parking spaces on Viewforth in addition, for the same reason. An option could be to site a car-club facility on or near the site.

The Council cannot on the one hand endorse a ‘business as usual’ development like this, and on the other hand claim that it is pursuing enlightened transport and environmental policies which minimise the impact of the car and make the public realm a much better place for walkers, cyclists and people using public transport. If a progressive approach to parking cannot be adopted at the Boroughmuir site, where alternatives to the car are myriad, what chance is there that a visionary approach will be taken anywhere else in the city?

We urge you to reach a decision which better reflects the aims of Council transport and environmental policies. Our official objection is here: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/10/23/objection-to-redevelopment-of-boroughmuir-high-school-excessive-car-parking/

Regards

David Spaven
Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group
[4] Living Streets ‘Manifesto for Walking’ is at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/12/21/living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-for-walking/