Category Archives: Press 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:

 

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/

Pedestrian Group Hits Out At New Edinburgh Danger

New building works by Edinburgh’s busy Morrison Street are a danger to pedestrians, says the campaigning group Living Streets [1]. As part of work on a new retail and office development on the old Morrison Street goods yard, the City of Edinburgh Council has closed the pavement on the south side of Morrison Street, forcing people on foot to make five separate pedestrian crossings rather than two previously.

Pedestrians are already using a short-cut along the narrowed vehicle carriageway [2, for photos below], and Living Streets has urged the Council [3] to provide a temporary pavement on the south side of Morrison Street ‘before an accident happens’. Noting that Morrison Street is ‘one of the busiest peak-time pedestrian thoroughfares in the city’, the group say they have raised problems like this across the city many times over the years, and are frustrated that ‘pedestrians remain resolutely at the bottom of the Council’s transport priority list.’ The Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh Group, David Spaven, commented:

‘We have lost count of the number of times we have had to raise with the City Council the problems caused for pedestrians by building works and road works – and the situation is even worse for folk with disabilities. Vehicles are routinely given priority during temporary reconfiguration of the streets, with the convenience and safety of the pedestrian – the most vulnerable street user – left as a complete after-thought. We can only conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong at the heart of the Council’s management. We also consider that the failure to provide adequate crossing facilities for disabled people is a breach of legal obligations.’

Living Streets have also commented in their letter to the Council that:

‘To add long-term insult to short-term injury, we understand that the pedestrian crossing of Dalry Road, just left of the junction with Morrison Street (which currently lies on the ‘desire line’ for pedestrians heading from [Haymarket] station to Morrison Street) is to be shifted southwards to the narrow pavement adjacent to the gable end of Ryrie’s pub, because the Morrison Street developer wants to maximise footfall through the retail development. This is the private profit tail wagging the public interest dog.’

The campaign group have urged action on both fronts from the Council, asking it to (i) install a temporary pavement on the south side of the remaining Morrison Street carriageway, and (ii) to revisit the ‘crass’ decision to relocate the Dalry Road pedestrian crossing.

MORE INFO: David Spaven on 0131-447-7764 / 07917-877399

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

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

[2] See photos below email below to Cllrs Hinds and McVey, Convener and Vice-Convener of the Transport and Environment Committee.

[3] Living Streets Edinburgh 07/02/2017 message to Cllr Hinds and McVey – headed ‘YET MORE INCONVENIENCE AND DANGER FOR EDINBURGH PEDESTRIANS’ – and copied to other Transport and Environment Committee councillors, and local councillors, is below:

 

Cllr Hinds / Cllr McVey

Yet again, Living Streets has to report new building works in Edinburgh which are causing inconvenience and danger to the pedestrian – the most vulnerable street user. The latest example is on Morrison Street – one of the busiest peak-time pedestrian thoroughfares in the city (leading to and from Haymarket station) – where the pavement on the south side has been entirely removed as part of the adjacent retail and office development works. The diversionary route involves five separate pedestrian crossings rather than two, unless of course people risk life and limb by walking on the carriageway, as they have done in a couple of the photos below. We also consider that the failure to provide adequate crossing facilities for disabled people is a breach of legal obligations.

We have raised this kind of problem with the City Council many times over recent years, but it would appear that pedestrians remain resolutely at the bottom of the Council’s transport priority list. The Council had to approve the Section 59 Traffic Management Plan which goes with the building development permit, and we assume that this incorporated a temporary pavement for the major pedestrian flow on the south side of the street. If not, it clearly should have done.

To add long-term insult to short-term injury, we understand that the pedestrian crossing of Dalry Road, just left of the junction with Morrison Street (which currently lies on the ‘desire line’ for pedestrians heading from the station to Morrison Street) is to be shifted southwards, by the narrow pavement adjacent to the gable end of Ryrie’s pub, because the Morrison Street developer wants to maximise footfall through the retail development. This is the private profit tail wagging the public interest dog.

Can you supply us with a copy of the approved Traffic Management Plan as agreed as part of the Section 59 permit process? Before an accident happens, can you also please arrange for installation of a temporary pavement on the south side of the remaining Morrison Street carriageway? And can you revisit the crass decision to relocate the Dalry Road pedestrian crossing?

In view of our continuing frustration with the Council’s evident inability to change course on pedestrian priority, we are copying this correspondence directly to the Edinburgh Evening News and STV.

Regards

David Spaven

Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group

 Photos of Morrison Street, looking towards Haymarket, taken 07/02/2017 (off-peak):

 

Living Streets Edinburgh Manifesto for Walking

With Council elections taking place on 4 May 2017, Living Streets Edinburgh is asking all political parties to include measures in their manifestos that will make walking in Edinburgh safer, easier and more enjoyable. Edinburgh is a naturally ‘walkable’ city but conditions for pedestrians are often wholly inadequate. Yet despite barriers to walking almost every one walks.

We want City of Edinburgh Council to build on this and to support our aim to make Edinburgh a truly world class city for people walking.
Here are our four ‘big ideas’ :

  • Transform Street Management
  • Invest Much More in Walking
  • Make a Comprehensive Traffic Plan for the City Centre
  • Pedestrianise George Street

living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-front

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