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 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

living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-back

 

Response to consultation on Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route proposal

You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route

We welcome the measures included in this proposal to improve walking, although these are often fragmented and largely incidental to the continuous corridor-based approach to the cycling design – a particular example being the lack of continuous footways (avoiding changes of level for pedestrians) across side streets where they join the cycle corridor, despite this being a requirement of the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance (ESDG).

Worryingly, we have identified a number of other instances of the route design failing to comply with the ESDG. A fundamental principle of all such schemes is that designs should explicitly conform to the ESDG for the category/categories of street affected. Until the adoption of finalised Detailed Design Sheets for the ESDG, the latter’s Design Principles (as already adopted by the Council) should be adhered to, for example with regard to frequency of pedestrian crossing points, footway width, decluttering, crossfalls, improvements of currently sub-standard pedestrian crossing facilities and junction corner radii (amongst many other issues). These Principles are Council policy, and should also be adhered to in order to avoid the Council being subject to legal challenge under the Equality Act duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist protected groups.

We suggest that a workshop or seminar should be held in order to get the design right for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Key points of principle

Space:

  1. An increase (or no net loss) of pedestrian space.
  2. Footways meet recommended widths.
  3. Conflicts with cyclists are avoided, with dedicated and well-defined space provided for pedestrians (including separated ‘tiger’ crossings).

Crossings:

  1. Junctions make foot crossing easier by being raised, with radii of corners and widths minimised
  2. In busier areas, controlled crossings are provided in convenient places, with acceptable waiting and crossing times.
  3. Pedestrian priority is made clear at all the key crossing points of the cycle routes, eg with continuous footways across side streets at junctions.

Equalities:

  1. The design incorporates features to assist people with disabilities, including dropped kerbs (where continuous footways are not feasible), seating and tactile paving.

Public realm:

  1. The footway is made free from clutter.
  2. Guardrails are avoided / removed.

Impact of traffic:

  1. If the area is a residential or shopping street or busy pedestrian route the speed is 20mph and the design helps to achieve this speed.
  2. The level of parking and access to motor vehicles is appropriate and does not dominate the space.

You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route

overall-plan

LSE press statement on east – west cycle route through Roseburn

This is a lot more than a cycle route – it brings plenty of benefits for pedestrians too, in terms of safer junctions, wider pavements and more road crossings.

At an early stage of the consultation we were concerned with aspects of the design which would have caused conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, but we’ve been impressed by the way the Council took on board our constructive suggestions.

A key point is that the pavements will now be widened on both the north and south sides of the busy stretch of Roseburn Terrace, and they will both meet the minimum width standards stipulated in the Council’s own Street Design Guidance.

That will help to make Roseburn Terrace a more people-friendly place, less dominated by road vehicles.

roseburn-plan-a

Objection to redevelopment of Boroughmuir High School – excessive car parking

Living Streets Edinburgh has submitted an official objection to the redevelopment of Boroughmuir High School due to the planned excessive car parking (planning ref 16/04581/FUL).

The full plans can be viewed here – https://goo.gl/IJsiFB

boroughmuir-high-school-planWe object to the application on the grounds of excessive parking provision. The Transport Statement makes great play about how the proposed development supports the Council’s sustainable transport policies; however, we do not consider a development with 95 parking spaces to be consistent with the council’s transport and environmental objectives. The case made in the application comparing existing and projected traffic flows is spurious; obviously traffic generation will be totally different as it is no longer going to be a 1000+ pupil school. The application notes that it aims to achieve 68% of the permitted maximum; we propose on the contrary, that the development should be have the minimum permitted number of residents’ parking spaces (zero – i.e. a car-free development). Limited car parking for disabled people and visitors would be acceptable.

As the application notes, the site 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 strongly oppose 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 application incorrectly claims that the footways on Viewforth are at least 2m wide; in fact they are typically 1.8m on both sides (only wider at the Bruntsfield Place end and at one or two specific spots). The Council’s Street Design Guidance specifies the width for this kind of street as an “absolute minimum of 2m (only allowed in short sections), desirable minimum 2.5m or wider.” If the application were to be granted, the opportunity should therefore be taken to meet these standards in the vicinity of the development. Continuous pavements giving clear pedestrian priority (rather than dropped kerbs) should be provided on the Viewforth access points. The application also claims that there “no evidence of parked vehicles obstructing footway” (p8). This is patently not so and pavement parking is endemic at weekends and evenings owing to lack of TRO prohibitions. Again, if the application were to be granted, conditions should be attached to remedy this shortcoming.

WALKING CAMPAIGNERS WELCOME CHANGE TO ROSEBURN CYCLE PLAN DESIGN

A proposed change to the design of the planned Roseburn-Leith Walk segregated cycling route has been welcomed by the local walking campaign, Living Streets Edinburgh [1]. The City Council’s amended plan published on 21st June suggested two options to change the route design at Roseburn Terrace, both of which removed the controversial ‘floating bus stop’ on the north side of Roseburn Terrace. The Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Spaven, said:

“We’re pleased that the Council have taken note of our biggest concern about the Roseburn design – a floating bus stop at this busy location would have created unwelcome conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists at a busy location.”

However, the group are continuing to strongly oppose the Council’s plan to drive the cycle route along the centre of the busy east end of Princes Street pavement, arguing that “this would take space from pedestrians and would create unmanageable conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians, in which the most vulnerable street users would inevitably come off worst.”

Living Streets says it is “surprised and disappointed” that the Council has not specifically addressed 16 other detailed concerns [2] it raised in the consultation, including the narrow footway on Roseburn Terrace towards the junction with Roseburn Street, and the proposed elimination of the eastbound bus lane from Roseburn to Coates Gardens.

In its submission  the group indicates that it will continue to work with the Council on the details of this scheme, and to scrutinise the emerging design iterations to ensure that they (i) prioritise the needs of pedestrians, (ii) are in line with Council’s own Street Design Guidance, and (iii) comply with Equality Impacts Assessment requirements.

The full response can be found here

Response to Roseburn-Leith Walk cycle route project amendments 21/06/16

LOCAL GROUP CALLS FOR ‘BLITZ’ ON EDINBURGH STREET CLUTTER

An Edinburgh campaign group has called for City of Edinburgh Council to undertake a ‘blitz’ on advertising ‘A-boards’ and other street clutter. The call was made by Living Streets Edinburgh [1] which campaigns for pedestrians’  interests, at its annual public meeting last night [2].

“Many of Edinburgh’s pavements resemble an obstacle course” [3] said the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Spaven. “It is often impossible for people to walk two abreast even in busy shopping streets such as South Bridge, Home Street and Raeburn Place. The number of A-boards appears to be increasing every year and they are getting bigger too; this is making our streets more and more unpleasant and difficult to use, at a time when we are supposed to be promoting walking for the economic, health and environmental benefits it brings. A-boards also represent a specific hazard for blind people.”

“We don’t want to see bare streets stripped of their local character, but there must be a fundamental review of Council policy in this area, together with a blitz of effective enforcement, as this type of street clutter is getting out of hand” he added.

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS: 

  1. Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary branch of Living Streets, the national charity promoting everyday walking.
  2. The LSEG meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Victoria Street was attended by 60 members and supporters of Living Streets.
  3. Selected photos of street clutter attached.

MORE INFO:

David Spaven on 0131-447-7764 or 07917-877399.

http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/

END OF RELEASE

Costa cup stockb3 viewforth2

New Johnston Terrace Pavement – only 1.5m wide

New-Narrow-Pavement-1We were appalled to see how narrow the pavement is on the Castle side of Johnston Terrace, after the works to install a ‘rock trap’ to catch falling rocks from Castle Rock were finished recently. The pavement is only 1.5 metres wide – well short of the 2.5 metre “absolute minimum” required by the Council’s own (excellent) Street Design Guidance.

Having looked into the history of this, it is almost as appalling to read the report to the Development Management Sub Committee 14 January 2015, which states

“Whilst this width is below that recommended in the council’s …guidelines it is considered, given the relatively low use of this footway, to be an be acceptable departure from standards in this instance. However as two wheelchairs or buggies will be unable to pass each other on a footway of this width the applicant was advised that uncontrolled crossing points on either side of the narrowing were required.”

We have raised this with the Council – not only the inadequacy of this pavement (which is far from “low use”) but also the wider issue of how keen the Council appears to be to ignore its own guidance.

Before (Picture from Google Streetview)

Google-Streetview-Johnston-Terrace-2010

After

 

Existing-Path-BottomNew-Narrow-PathNew-Narrow-Pavement-1Rock-Trap-Top

New-Narrow-Pavement-2Existing-Pavement-Top