Tag Archives: Active Travel

Response to Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy Consultation

  1. Introduction

1.1      Living Streets Edinburgh Group welcomes the publication and consultation on the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy.   We would like to thank the Council for its leadership in bringing this forward and the bold nature of the vision, which has the potential to transform the walking environment.

1.2      We have taken the opportunity to respond to the consultation under the following headings:

  • General comments on the Strategy;
  • Need for City-wide Transformation;
  • Detailed Comments on the Strategy.

1.3      We are happy to meet with Council staff and Jacobs to explain and expand on our comments.   We would also like to be involved in the preparation of the final strategy and the detailed design process for individual elements within it.

 

  1. General Comments on the Strategy

2.1      Walking (with or without an aid) is something we all have in common; at some point we have to get out of the car, off the bus or off the bike and walk.  Despite this we have, as a city, long accepted and planned for the private car as the dominant transport mode. A strategy that reverses this, puts people first and gives priority to travelling on foot is long overdue.

2.2      Transformation brings with it expectation and responsibility.  Delivery will require serious intent and ongoing commitment by the Council.  The scale of physical and behavioural change involved is significant, but eminently capable of achievement in the city that conceived and delivered the New Town.

2.3      This is a project that will span a number of Council terms and must not be subject to the vagaries of different political administrations that may come and go over its lifetime.  It requires “buy in” from all parties for the long term.

2.4      The focus of the strategy is on the city centre, but it cannot take place in isolation and must require significant change throughout the city to make it work and ensure that benefits are widely shared (see next section).

2.5      The strategy has no statutory basis, yet it will have to be delivered through a variety of statutory plans/processes including City Plan 2030, the City Mobility Plan and Low Emission Zones.  It is therefore essential that there is a clear pledge by the Council to see it through, ensuring that it underpins the statutory plans and that all internal structures and processes are joined up and remain so.  We have already seen examples of opportunities to deliver wider benefits for every day walking being missed on simple small-scale projects because of lack of dialogue between sections of the same Directorate.  The scale and complexity of transformation in this strategy is such that this just cannot be allowed to happen.

2.6      It is regrettable that the Delivery Plan is still under preparation as it is an essential part of the package.  The strategy promises a range of potentially exciting changes over a relatively short timeframe, yet a costed programme of projects and interventions is not available.  Consequently there is a risk that expectations have been raised and may yet be dashed before the strategy is off the starting blocks.  The Delivery Plan may be more bedded in reality if it has a clear sense of priority, distinguishing between short-term essentials and what may be longer-term desirables e.g. lifts and the tram line extensions. The experience from Leith Walk suggests some streets can’t accommodate public realm for walking, segregated cycle infrastructure and tram tracks so the detail on what can actually be delivered is important.

2.7      The Delivery Plan will be at the heart of the transformation project and the scale is such that the Council, with budgets constantly under competing pressures, will have difficulty in finding and maintaining the necessary resources to fund delivery on its own.

2.8      Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is iconic in UK terms. It is therefore hoped that commitments have already been secured from Scottish Government to enhance the Council’s spending settlement for the duration of the project and to make additional ring-fenced funding available for specific elements, ideally with additional buy in from UK Government. There is a case for the business sector to contribute, as a beneficiary from transformation.  The Council can also secure funding via a workplace parking levy, congestion charging, more rigorous enforcement of parking and road restrictions, and more targeted developer contributions.

 

  1. Need for City-wide Transformation

3.1      In order to be meaningful transformation cannot take place in isolation in the city centre alone, it has to extend across the city and the timing is opportune to start this process.

3.2      SESPlan Strategic Development Plan 2 has recently been rejected by Scottish Ministers on transport grounds, one of them being that the plan does not take sufficient account of the relationship between land use and transport. The rejection letter from the Chief Planner dated 16 May 2019 makes specific reference to paragraphs 272-275 of Scottish Planning Policy. Para 273 prioritises modes of travel in the following order of priority: walking, then cycling, then public transport and finally use of private cars.   The reality is that, despite this unambiguous hierarchy, planning in the city has followed a reverse order of priority and the private car continues to dominate.  The Transformation Strategy can be a start in putting matters right, but it will not work in isolation.

3.3      The rejection of SDP2 reflects Scottish Government’s intention to deliver its policy and sends a clear message that City Plan 2030 and the City Mobility Plan should take the reasons for that rejection on board.  If the hierarchy in Scottish Planning Policy is applied across the city it means that transformation must extend to communities beyond the city centre, sharing the benefits and ensuring they do not suffer the consequences of any displacement of vehicular traffic from the city centre as a result of this strategy.

3.4      A significant reduction in car use is essential to make transformation work and ensure Edinburgh truly is a city with people at its heart.  In practical terms this means there has to be a change in mind-set in and around the city with acceptance that the private car no longer has priority.

3.5      There is plenty of good practice to draw on from within the UK and beyond.  For example, there is potential for mini-Holland style projects in neighbourhoods across the city, including Leith and Gorgie https://walthamforest.gov.uk/content/creating-mini-holland-waltham-forest or take a lead from the Barcelona Super Blocks http://www.bcnecologia.net/en/conceptual-model/superblocks

3.6      An extensive city-wide programme of physical, fiscal and legal interventions is needed including:

  • widen pavements;
  • introduce continuous footways as standard;
  • create a network of segregated cycle lanes;
  • reduce the width of carriageways and increase street planting;
  • significant removal of on street parking;
  • prioritise pedestrians at crossings;
  • congestion charging;
  • a workplace parking levy;
  • city wide low emission zone;
  • rigorous enforcement of parking controls, speed limits, bus lanes;
  • expand and enhance the bus fleet replacing diesel with hydrogen or other zero emission technology;
  • review the bus network within and around the city, where necessary introducing new routes/improve frequency;
  • review train timetables and enhance services where possible;
  • provide/enhance park and ride provision as required.

 

  1. Detailed Comments on the Strategy

4.1      It is appreciated that this is a strategy, but it also identifies a range of specific measures and interventions without going into great detail.   It is stated that the Delivery Plan will provide a costed programme for individual elements over a 10 year period.   Having expressed disappointment that the Delivery Plan is not available as part of the current consultation, we consider it critical that it is the subject of further consultation when it is eventually produced.  This will allow scrutiny of the detail of the various projects and interventions and an opportunity to assess whether any of the ambition in the strategy has been lost or diluted.

4.2      The six principles on p16/17 are supported. However, the aims and objectives in the Interim Report that they are intended to deliver should have been repeated in the strategy so that anyone reading it can make a clear link to them from individual interventions via the principles.

 

4.3      The principle of People First (p16) and priority given to walking, cycling and public transport is most welcome.  With this in mind, and before embarking on detailed design, it is important to decide how to manage, not only private cars, but a variety of other traffic which contribute to unpleasant conditions for walking:

  • taxis/private hire cars;
  • bin lorries;
  • vans;
  • HGVs;
  • tour buses (incl ‘City sightseeing’);
  • long distance coaches.

4.4      To have a liveable (p17) and resilient city centre there should be a target to increase the residential population. This will have to be facilitated through planning decisions and controls over Air BnB type uses.  It will also to be necessary to have the necessary community facilities in place e.g. schools, doctors.

4.5      On p22, specific reference to and acceptance of the hierarchy of movement with people on foot first is welcome.  More detail is required on how pedestrian priority zones will be delivered, particularly the concept of vehicles as “guests” (which vehicles?), and there must be recognition that the city centre is a first phase, with pedestrians eventually prioritised across the city as required by the hierarchy.

4.6      The Pedestrian Priority Zone should cover the entire length of the Royal Mile and include Holyrood Palace/Scottish Parliament.  Its exclusion is illogical as it is that last section with narrow footways and constant traffic that is particularly difficult and unpleasant for the large number of pedestrians who use it.

4.7      There are no proposals to improve walking provision on Queen Street; this should be addressed.  It is one of the most important streets in the New Town, on the edge of the city centre, yet poor air quality, high traffic volumes and excessive waiting times at crossings create a hostile pedestrian experience.

4.8      The new pedestrian and cycling bridge between Jeffrey Street and Calton Road (p24) is welcome and it is hoped that reference to “vehicle free” extends to the currently unsafe junction with Leith Street thereby creating a more pleasant and safer approach to the station from Calton Road.

4.9      On p24 there is reference to “segregated and safe cycling routes”.  It is taken that this means all the cycle routes indicated will be segregated, including Cowgate despite its restricted width.

4.10   Does “full implementation of current Active Travel Plan” on p27 only refer to the cycling parts?   For the avoidance of doubt, the Council should commit to all outstanding walking elements in the ATP.

4.11   Public transport is key to the reduction in private car use and delivery of improved journey times and efficiency for buses accessing the centre (p28/29) is welcomed.  However, it also states that there will be a “reduced volume of buses crossing the city centre without a loss of service provision” with no indication of how his will be achieved.  The service improvement commitment to bus services is focused on the city centre, whereas people need to find it easier to use buses throughout the city.  Bear in mind that individual trips to the city centre may require more than one bus so it is essential that service enhancement is consistent across the city.

4.12   Is it correct to assume that “taxi” is used as a generic term to include all private hire companies?  As there is significant taxi usage in the city, incentives and controls should be in place to ensure vehicles are low or zero emission.  Is it possible to explore this as a condition of licencing?

4.13   The public transport interventions (p30/31) require careful assessment to ensure that they deliver benefits to all and that those who currently rely on these services do not lose out.

4.14   Bus priority can also be enhanced through bus lane extensions and greater enforcement, including parking at bus stops.  These are actions that can be taken now.

4.15   The concept of buses ‘kissing’ the centre needs to be illustrated to show how it will work and to ensure that people don’t have to change buses unnecessarily.  Many existing routes work and are supported because they cross the city centre (e.g. between Western General Hospital and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) so introducing a change of bus may act as a disincentive.

4.16   More detail is needed on the proposed hopper service and the problem it is intended to solve. Likewise with the tram extensions on Lauriston Place and North/South Bridge which are surely unlikely to be delivered in the 10 year timeframe.

4.17   The desired 25% reduction in private vehicle movements in the city centre is noted (p32), but surely we can be more ambitious than that.  Apart from a few exceptions there is little need to bring a car into the city centre or to assume that residency in the centre requires it.  This target has to be revisited as well as consideration given to city-wide targets.

4.18   There is no target for reducing the commercial vehicle movements which contribute significantly to making walking unpleasant.  Traffic passing through the centre should be re-routed without detriment to other areas.  Vehicles coming into the centre will face greater kerbside restrictions, but this has to be accompanied by the rethink in vehicle types identified in the final bullet point on p32.

4.19   Reducing on-street parking (p34/35) is a key feature which is welcomed as it will increase space at a stroke for walking (and cycling) and will reduce car traffic looking for on-street places.  This has to involve more than lip service and a radical removal programme is required.  It must be accompanied by a work place parking levy, as well as a campaign to persuade businesses to voluntarily remove parking provision and replace it with incentives for employees to walk, cycle or use bus/tram/train. There is significant scope to apply this approach throughout the city and dramatically reduce the amount of on street parking in any location where public transport and walking/cycling are practical alternatives.

4.20   The Council has a policy that allows for car free developments, but it has been timid in applying it.   It should be the default position for new developments unless it can be demonstrated that the modes above cars in the hierarchy are not available.  Certainly within the city centre it has to be clear that no new off street parking is created aside from Blue Badge, car club and delivery bays. Otherwise new developments will generate more traffic growth. This must be set out in City Plan 2030. The space saved can go towards more housing (including affordable), more landscaping/gardens and allow for additional developer contributions towards public transport and other active travel infrastructure.   Developments such as the Engine Yard at Shrubhill on the edge of the city centre with its extensive underground car park should not be repeated.

4.21   The creation of an integrated transport and data management centre (p36/37) is noted, but more detail is required on what it involves and how it will operate to ensure it will be effective and provide all the data required.  This is critical as at present there is, for example, no proper monitoring of modal share.

4.22   The operations management plan is essential and it is surprising it does not already exist, but that would explain missed opportunities to enhance the walking experience.

4.23   It is assumed that the management of commercial bins includes the communal Council bins, but there also has to be management of private bins on the pavements.

4.24   The improvements in place (p38/39) are broadly welcomed.  There are however a number of specific comments:

  • The 4 vertical lifts will be an innovation, but it is hoped that their inclusion is based on reality and not vague ambition so as to avoid disappointment if they don’t happen.
  • The designated traffic free streets should be expanded to include Calton Road from the station car park to Leith Street and the eastern section of the Royal Mile.
  • Main Public Space Improvement should include all of the Royal Mile, Calton Road, Leith Street, Cowgate, Market Street, Lauriston Place, all of Princes Street, Waterloo Place/Regent Road and the full length of Queen Street.

4.25   The concept of catalyst areas is a useful means of showing in more detail at this stage what can be achieved, but it is important that these areas do not become the sole focus and the principles of transformation are applied across the entire strategy area. Living Streets Edinburgh welcomes the commitment to develop detailed proposals in close consultation with relevant stakeholders and wishes to be part of this process.

4.26   The diagram on p48 identifies Morrison Street for public realm improvement, but not as a walking route although many people use it as a direct link to Lothian Road. It is a busy and deeply unpleasant street, totally dominated by several lanes of traffic. The public realm improvements will not change this unless accompanied by wider pavements and a reduced number of lanes carrying less vehicular traffic. The rationalization of the Haymarket junction is welcomed, it is currently a nightmare for pedestrians and the improvements must put people on foot first.

4.27   It is appreciated that Lothian Road (p56) is a challenge and the decision to instigate change is welcome. If it is truly to become a tree-lined boulevard then people have to be the focus, yet it appears from the information available that there will still be 4 lanes of traffic. This should be reduced to allow the tree planting on areas that are currently taken up by road with the pavements on both sides widened to improve the pedestrian experience. There is reference to reallocation of traffic lanes on a number of roads, including the West Approach Road, which requires clarification. Again the detail of what is proposed for this area is important and we look forward to involvement in that process.

4.28   The First New Town Strategic Plan (p64) identifies public realm improvements on Princes Street, George Street and parts of other key streets, but then excludes key streets where improvement is also required.   Given that Queen Street, Frederick Street, Hanover Street, and North/South St David Street are all also identified as key streets they should be assessed for public realm improvement, both in terms of improving the fabric (e.g. cobbles on Frederick Street) and giving pedestrians priority. (e.g. the St. David Streets being particularly poor).

4.29   As the strategy is intended to provide a high-quality pedestrian focused environment across this area, it is assumed that the specific active travel routes identified on the plan are focused on cycling. In which case, it would be better to make segregated provision on George Street and The Mound (as currently proposed) and also create similar provision on Princes Street. Rose Street could then be enhanced to create a high quality pedestrian street, surely an early priority given that there is a longstanding commitment which is now many years overdue.

4.30   Despite rationalization of bus services and stops there will still be 4 lanes of traffic/tram. This should be reviewed to identify any opportunity to widen the pavement on the south side of Princes Street that is currently too narrow for the volume of people using it.

4.32   The introduction to the section on the Old Town (p71) correctly identifies that the primary aim is to enhance the experience for pedestrians and the principle impediment is the presence of vehicles in an area that was clearly never intended to accommodate them. Within this context drastic measures are called for and there is an argument for restricting access solely to vehicles necessary for servicing and disabled people. Residency in this part of the city should not be qualification for keeping a vehicle in it, particularly on the street. Comments on other aspects of the Old Town proposals have been made earlier in this submission.

4.31   Proposals for George Street and Meadows to George Street schemes are at an advanced stage of preparation having been subject to consultation. It is assumed that they are compatible with and reflect the ambition of this Strategy.

4.33   The Waverley/Calton proposals (p78) embrace the area covered by the emerging Waverley Station Masterplan.  This strategy has a 10 year timescale and the Masterplan, covering a smaller area, is for a period of 30 years.  Ideally both projects would be implemented in the same timeframe so it may be worth exploring if the Masterplan could be condensed into 10 years, at least the significant and most disruptive elements.  Alternatively, a more realistic timeline for both projects may be 15 years, but in any case delivery has to be aligned.

4.34   Proposals to enhance the walking experience in and around the station are generally welcome, but detail is required.  For example, what does pedestrian priority mean on Waverley Bridge?  Tour buses will be removed, but it is unclear which buses if any will still be permitted, although it was understood from the Masterplan consultation that they would all be removed.

4.35   The issue of service traffic for the shopping centre and station has to be addressed as there is potential for conflict.  The possibility of servicing by rail, including short haul from other stations around the city, should be investigated.  There should be no provision for car parking other than bluebadge holders.

4.36   The eastern end of Princes Street is currently an unpleasant place for pedestrians with a combination of traffic volume, fumes, barriers, narrow footway on southern side and conflict with the large volume of people entering and leaving the station via Waverley Steps.   This Strategy and the Masterplan can address this situation.  Space should be taken from the road to widen the pavement on the southern side, traffic has to be reduced and the public realm enhanced.

4.37   The North Bridge/Princes Street/Leith Street junction is one of the worst pedestrian experiences in the city centre.  It is difficult to navigate and confusing for the unfamiliar.  The plethora of barriers should be removed, traffic reduced, and the pedestrian crossings redesigned to ease navigation and give walkers priority.

4.38   The redevelopment of Edinburgh St James had potential to transform Picardy Place and Leith Street, but that ship has sailed, the opportunity is lost and the works currently underway are the polar opposite of what this strategy intends.  There is still an opportunity to mitigate matters with public realm improvements, including significant tree planting, prioritise pedestrians at all crossings and close Calton Road to traffic.

4.39   With the intended reduction in traffic entering the centre and closure/restricted access in several streets there is likely to be some displacement.  It is possible that this may impact negatively on the Bridges/Nicolson Street, which are understood to already have the worst accident records in the city.  North Bridge is to have reallocation of traffic lanes, but it is unclear how it will be transformed for pedestrians.

4.40   It would be useful to have sight of the traffic modeling that was presumably undertaken as part the strategy to ascertain if displaced traffic would ‘evaporate’ or end up on this corridor.  The issue of displacement is part of the case for tackling transformation across the city and not only in the centre.

4.41   The Innovation Mile (p86) covers an area where walking is not subject to the same level of competition for space, but there is still scope to enhance the experience and that is welcomed. Public realm improvements to Lauriston Place are appreciated, but there are also locations (usually at junctions) where pavements should be widened to accommodate the number of pedestrians.  South Bridge/Nicolson Street requires enhancement and pavements widened.  There would appear to be an intention to remove the rather brutalist over/underpass at Bristo Square which is welcome.  There is no mention of the long standing Causey project which is a gateway to Nicolson Street and the “Innovation Mile”.  It is 10 years over due and should be included as an early priority.

  1. Conclusion

5.1      This Strategy and the actions that flow from it can transform the walking environment in the city. The Council is to be congratulated for instigating the project, now Living Streets Edinburgh is keen to work with the Council and others to realise the ambition within it.

 

 

 

 

Union Canal to Meadows Link: comments by Living Streets Edinburgh

A. Introduction

Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary arm of the national charity, Living Streets, which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday walking’. In LSEG our key aim is to promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around the city.

We have a particular interest in this much-delayed scheme. The 2015 Tollcross Street Audit , which we led, involving partners Tollcross Community Council and Edinburgh Access Panel, was chosen partly in order to influence the design of this scheme. We hope that all recommendations of the audit (link) will be fully reviewed and considered in introducing this scheme.

A further fundamental point is that all proposals and designs must explicitly conform to the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance (ESDG) for the category/categories of street. We have also appended our generic ’Walkability Criteria’ for the assessment of street design proposals

B. General observations.

Positive aspects:

We welcome much of the proposed design, which will significantly improve the walking experience in the busy Tollcross area. Especially welcome are the extensive use of continuous pavements, the widening of several footways, the addition of new and/or improved pedestrian crossings and the creation of a small pedestrianised zone at the west end of Tarvit Street. We very much welcome the inclusion of Tollcross Primary School as an important component of the scheme, and we support (though would want to extend) the measures proposed to improve the walking environment in its vicinity.

Traffic

We acknowledge that the scope of this scheme is limited, in aiming principally to provide a better link for cyclists between the Meadows and the Canal, along with pedestrian improvements. This scheme raises several issues about traffic management and vehicle space and the need for a wider review of traffic around Tollcross, as noted in our submission to the ‘City Centre Transformation consultation (bit.ly/2yK61sU) . However, we believe that this scheme represents a number of important immediate opportunities to further reduce the space given to motor vehicles, in addition to those included in the preliminary design. We therefore propose:

  • Gilmore Place at the Kings junction: reduce eastbound lanes from the current two to one. As traffic will generally no longer be exiting Tarvit Street, eastbound traffic from Gilmore Place will be able to turn right or left without a need for separate lanes.  This will enable the extremely narrow and congested corner footways on both sides of Gilmore Place (at the TukTuk and Trenchtown restaurants) to be widened.
  • Ponton Street: reduce this three-lane one way system outside Tollcross Primary School to two-lane. This would enable significant widening of the western pavement outside the school.
  • Home Street to the north of Lochrin Terrace: We understand that there is an alternative, updated design which retains two lanes of traffic, widened footways and no build-out at the pedestrian crossing here. We welcome the tightened radius of the Home Street/Lochrin Terrace junction, which should deter northbound traffic on Home Street turning left here at speed, as happens currently.

Continuous footways:

We generally welcome these design features and are pleased to see several examples of them in the plans. However, some of the locations where they are proposed (possibly including Lochrin Place at Home Street, for example) may have a significant amount of traffic crossing them, while others (eg access to the Valleyfield St garages) may have very little. We strongly suggest that careful thought is given to whether some tactile warning is needed to warn blind pedestrians that there is a risk that they could encounter vehicles at the potentially busiest locations and that consultation with visual impairment groups takes place.

Footway loading bays:

We note that footway loading bays are proposed in two locations: Home Street (east) and Leven Street (west). We are concerned that these features are becoming more prevalent in street design (eg on Cowgate and Fountainbridge) and in general we oppose them. They send a signal that pavements can be parked on. We see no case for the Leven Street example, where a normal loading bay can apparently be provided without unduly narrowing the pavement. Any footway loading bays should be bounded by bollards to avoid vehicle encroaching on to the footway proper.

Seats:

There is currently nowhere to sit in Home Street, or Tollcross more generally, including at the city-bound bus stops. This undoubtedly reduces the appeal of the street for older people and many people with mobility impairments. The scheme should include provision of new seating at a number of locations. The pedestrianised Tarvit Street area is one such location, but seats should also be installed on both the west and east sides of Home Street.

Footway widths:

While we recognise (and welcome) a number of footway widenings, there appear to remain several footways which fall below the ‘absolute minimum’ standard specified in the Street Design Guidance, and one where the an extremely busy pavement is actually being significantly narrowed, from 3.9m to 2.5m (Home St west). This is not acceptable in a flagship walking and cycling scheme, and it is unlikely that there will be any other opportunity in the next 10 or 20 years to rectify this inadequate legacy. Meeting minimum standards in such a densely-populated and diverse area should be an absolutely fundamental requirement of the scheme. Streets which we think will still fall short of these standards are:

  • Lochrin Place (west)
  • Lochrin Terrace
  • Ponton Street
  • Home Street (western side, between Lochrin Place and Gilmore Place)
  • Home Street (eastern side, by loading bay near Tarvit St junction)
  • Gilmore Place
  • Tarvit Street (east)
  • Drumdryan Street (whole length)
  • Valleyfield Street.

Pavement clutter:

We assume that a full de-cluttering exercise will be carried out on all streets included within the scheme. There are many signage poles which are no longer needed, inappropriately-sited cycle racks (Home Street at Lochrin Place (N) and a redundant parking display (Ponton St). We query the need for considerable sections of guardrail, for example on Lochrin Terrace (where the guardrails have quite recently been renewed).

Pedestrian/cycling conflict:

We generally oppose shared pedestrian/cyclist areas (as do Spokes) owing to the potential conflict and especially the intimidating effect this can have on vulnerable pedestrians such as older people and those with visual impairments. However, long-established shared spaces are at both ends of this project (ie in the Meadows and on the Union Capital) and we consider the proposals are generally reasonable. Detailed design, including signage and any speed-reducing measures should take into account the risk of conflict however at key locations including the Lochrin Place/Home St junction and at both ends of Tarvit Street. Signs and road markings should require cyclists to ‘Stop’ – rather than ‘Give Way’ where the cycle way crosses a footway / continuous footway.

C. Location-specific observations

These observations (broadly from west to east) relate to specific changes which we would like to see to the initial design; in general, we are therefore happy with the proposals except where stated above or below.

West Tollcross:

  • There are two incorrectly-installed tactile pavings on the south side of W Tollcross, and a continuous pavement should be installed between these to the vehicle access point.

Ponton Street:

  • We would like to see footways significantly widened on this street. The western pavement outside Tollcross PS is only 2.15m wide, and is further constrained by guardrails. We would therefore like to see the traffic lanes reduced from 3 to 2 which would enable significant widening of both pavements. The large bus stop on the east side of Ponton Street which is used for the layover of East Coast Buses should be moved (possibly just to Lochrin Terrace) to facilitate this.
  • At the northern end of Ponton Street, there is currently no ‘green man’ facility whatsoever to  allow people to walk across Fountainbridge, an inexplicable omission at a busy junction adjacent to a primary school. The signals here should therefore be replaced as part of the lane reduction measures proposed above, to include a signalled crossing of Fountainbridge on both sides of Ponton Street.

Lochrin Terrace:

  • Lochrin Terrace has a lot of wasted space and we welcome the extended footway with loading area on the south side (a suitable location for seats). At its western end (before the W Tollcross/fire station junction), the road should be narrowed to reduce the distance for pedestrians to cross the road (there is only a single lane on traffic heading into Lochrin Terrace, so there is no need for the carriageway to be so wide).
  • At its eastern end, both the north and south footways are too narrow – the southern pavement is only 1.75m wide, further reduced to 1.35 clear walking zone by the railings (compared to a footway ‘absolute minimum’ of 2m and a ‘clear walking zone absolute minimum’ of 1.5m in the ESDG).  A bin on the northern side routinely blocks adequate access to this pavement. We would like to see the guardrails removed from both sides of the street. We expect that the presence of the fire lane eastbound may be a specific reason for the rails on the northern pavement, but can see no reason for retaining the railings in the southern pavement.

Lochrin Place:

  • We welcome the widening of the northern pavement at the eastern end and the buildout on the southern side at Lochrin Autos. However, we would like to see a number of additional improvements including the installation of regular build-outs as specified by the Street Design Guidance. There are four incorrectly installed pieces of tactile paving with inappropriate crossfall on the north side of Lochrin Place (at apartment bin stores) which should be remedied. At its western end, the southern pavement should be continued towards the canal towpath; at present, the pavement does a right angled left turn away from the main desire line to the canal.

Home Street:

  • We are very disappointed to see the proposal to reduce the western footway between Lochrin Place and Gilmore Place in width from 3.9 to 2.5 metres, presumably to accommodate the segregated cycle lane, which we consider unacceptable and contrary to the spirit / letter of Council policy and the ‘movement hierarchy’ in Scottish Planning Policy.
  • We note the intention to move the signalled pedestrian crossing currently located immediately to the south of Lochrin Place to the south of Lochrin Terrace. We would like an assurance that this will be ‘green man on demand’ unlike the current ‘dumb’ crossing which is activated by the Home St / Gilmore Place junction signals.
  • We oppose the ‘footway loading bay’ on the southern part of the east side of Home Street. This leaves only 2.5 m of footway clear for pedestrians and will encourage footway parking in the vicinity outside the designated bay, unless bounded by bollards.
  • There is a need for a shelter with seating at the bus stop on the western side outside the Cameo cinema.
  • We would ask that the decluttering exercise which will be conducted extends north on both sides of Home Street to the Tollcross junction.

Gilmore Place:

  • The pavements at the junction of Gilmore Place with Home/Leven Streets are very busy and congested and need to be improved. As suggested above, we advocate reducing the eastbound lanes out of Gilmore Place from two to one in order to achieve this. The northern pavement close is currently 2.3 metres wide, with a minimum clear walking zone of 1.8 metres; wholly inadequate for a place where many people gather to cross the road. The southern pavement is only 1.6 metres wide (ESDG requires an ‘absolute minimum’ of 2m). In the longer term, the council should consider compulsory purchase and demolition of the ugly building extension occupied at present by part of the TukTuk restaurant. This would improve the corner visually, but more importantly would free-up significant road space for walking and potentially cycling.

Tarvit Street (inc. Drumdryan St):

  • We welcome the concept of closing Tarvit Street to general traffic (expect bicycles) and introducing a small pedestrian zone at its western end. We believe that this, currently unlovely, space would be much improved as a pedestrian area, and should allow the potential of the Kings Theatre to have a positive impact on its immediate area to be exploited. However we have some concerns or queries about how it will operate.
  • It is designated as a “Traffic Free Street (except for loading)”.  This raises a number of questions: Will any vehicle ‘loading’ be permitted to use the street? Are there limits intended to the times when loading is to be permitted? (The bay is marked as suggesting this is only between 22.00 and 10.00 hours). How will enforcement be carried out? (Edinburgh’s record in similar streets like Castle Street and Grassmarket is not encouraging). Presumably loading vehicles (including HGVs servicing the Kings Theatre) will have to exit Tarvit Street westbound, and that there will therefore need to be traffic signals (which will apply also to cyclists)? We note that the southern footway remains extremely narrow and below the Council’s ESDG ‘absolute minimum’ standard of 2m. This would not necessarily be a problem if part of an effectively pedestrianised street, but would not be desirable if vehicles are frequently in the loading bay.
  • East of the junction with Drumdryan Street, the pavements on both side of Tarvit Street appear to fall short of the “absolute minimum standard” specified by the Council. The pavements here and on all streets included within the scope of the project (including all of Drumdryan Street) must be improved to meet this standard at the “absolute minimum”. If this cannot be delivered in a once in a generation ‘walking and cycling scheme’, it never will. An informal crossing with dropped kerb/tactiles should be installed at the eastern side of the Drumdryan/Tarvit Street junction, to facilitate pedestrian movement from the south side of Tarvit street to the northern pavement at this junction.

Brougham Place:

  • We welcome the provision of a new Toucan crossing to the south of Tarvit Street which is on a pedestrian desire line.
  • We note that the western footway of Brougham Place between Tarvit Street and Leven Terrace is 2.3 metres wide. Currently, the width of this pavement is significantly reduced by a hedge. It is essential that there is a firm commitment by the Council to enforce the obligation of frontagers to restrict vegetation from encroaching on pavements. Otherwise, this footway will need to be widened.

Valleyfield Street:

  • Minimum footway widths must be provided; at the eastern half of the street, the northern footway is currently 1.8 metres wide, and the southern 1.75m, where there is also a Clear Walking Zone of only 1.2m at the lampposts, further reduced to 0.8 by the hedge at the eastern end. This compares to the ESDG standard of footway ‘absolute minimum’ width of 2m and a ‘clear walking zone absolute minimum’ of 1.5m.
  • Continuous footways should be provided on the south side at two garage entries.

Leven Terrace:

  • The closure of Tarvit Street to vehicles coming from Melville Drive direction is likely to increase traffic on Leven Terrace. Measures which might need to be considered include traffic calming, and changing the ‘Give Way’ at the junction with Valleyfield St, so that Leven Street traffic must pause or stop.
  • We note the intention to provide new, separate routes for walking and cycling across the section of park between Leven Terrace and the Meadows.  We would seek confirmation that this will not involve the loss of any mature trees, and also that the most direct route (which is the walking desire line) is designated for walking, rather than cycling (otherwise, people will continue to walk in the cycle lane).
  • We also note that there is no intention to add a footway to the eastern side of Leven Terrace, which is currently missing entirely. The need for this should be assessed.

D. Conclusion

We welcome the improvements to the Tollcross area which will bring many benefits to local pedestrians, children attending Tollcross Primary School and visitors to attractions such as the Kings Theatre and Cameo Cinema.

We think, however that some bolder, though incremental, measures can be included in this scheme to reduce the dominance of traffic and the space given to accommodate it (especially Ponton Street and Gilmore Place).  There are also many missed opportunities to widen inadequate footways in residential streets, and we strongly oppose the reduction in footway width in a section of Home Street which would worsen the walking experience in this important part of the Tollcross ‘town centre’.

***

Appendix: Living Streets Edinburgh ‘Walkability Criteria’

Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is keen to ensure that all types of transport and public realm schemes – whether routine maintenance or new initiatives – improve the walking environment. We would like to see each scheme satisfy the following fundamental aims:

  1. compliance with the Council’s Street Design Guidance [http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/download/550/edinburgh_street_design_guidance] – at the very least, its minimum standards, eg on footway width and frequency of pedestrian crossings, and,
  2. compliance with the transport hierarchy set out in Scottish Planning Policy (2014) – https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-planning-policy/pages/8/including ‘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’.

LSEG does not have the resources to examine and comment in detail on every transport and public realm proposal; our view on whether a scheme design has satisfied these fundamental aims will be determined by Council answers to the following questions on ‘walkability’ criteria:

  1. How does the design contribute to the Council’s strategic objective to promote walking [as set out in the Active Travel Plan http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20087/cycling_and_walking/1791/cycling_and_walking_projects/1]?
  2. Does the scheme comply in detail with the Council’s Street Design Guidance, for example with regard to footway widths, frequency of pedestrian crossing points, decluttering, continuous footways over side street junctions, and junction corner radii (amongst many other issues)? Where does it fail to comply?
  3. Are pedestrian crossing points convenient in terms of proximity, waiting times, directness and time to cross, especially for less able users?
  4. Does the scheme as a whole improve road safety, especially in terms of vehicle speeds at junctions and crossing points?
  5. Has an Equality Impact Assessment been carried out? If so, what are the chief impacts on disabled or elderly pedestrians?
  6. Which walking elements of the scheme represent a quantitative / qualitative enhancement or deterioration of current walking facilities, eg footway widths?
  7. In what ways does it avoid pedestrian conflicts with other road users (including motor vehicles and cyclists), eg by providing dedicated and well-defined space for pedestrians and avoiding ‘shared spaces’?

LSE response to Infrastructure Commission for Scotland – Call for Evidence

This is a submission by Living Streets Edinburgh Group, which aims to promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh.

https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/get-involved/take-action-in-your-area/local-groups/edinburgh

It is noted that you ask for comments in respect of 5 year and 30 year time horizons.   In the case of transport infrastructure this can be succinctly answered.  Within 5 years we need to have changed our whole approach to the way we move and in 30 years time we will be looking back wondering why we ever did it any other way.

Since the advent of statutory land use planning, decisions on where we live and work and how we move around have all been predicated on the use of private motor vehicles.  We have also accepted that the bulk of what we produce and consume should move by road and we have planned accordingly.

There is now an acceptance that this approach has created poor places to the detriment of people’s physical and mental well-being, and ultimately to the economy.

Scottish Government has taken some steps in policy to redress the imbalance:

  • Scottish Planning Policy Para 273 – “The spatial strategies set out in plans should support development in locations that allow walkable access to local amenities and are also accessible by cycling and public transport. 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. Plans should facilitate integration between transport modes.”
  • Creating Places 4.7 – “We will advocate the delivery of places that prioritise pedestrians and encourage activity and healthy lifestyles.”

Although this has now been Scottish Government policy for a few years, it has not been meaningfully reflected in local planning policy and decisions.  Land use allocations continue to be made on a basis that accepts private car use as a necessity and the dominant element in the provision of transport infrastructure.

Too often the infrastructure to allow people the realistic option of walking is not provided.  This has to change and development must be located where walking is the most attractive choice.  This requires all necessary infrastructure to be in place at the outset including a network of safe off-road footpaths along with accessible, frequent and affordable public transport.  Roads should no longer dominate and developments should be increasingly car free with no need for parking other than than as required for disabled/servicing. This will require culture change as well as a mixture of public investment and contributions from developers with any necessary adjustment to land values.  The UK, including Scotland, has failed on this score whilst in many other European countries it has long been part and parcel of the way they plan and invest.

One issue that receives insufficient attention, and should be taken into account as part of this review, is the on-going management and maintenance of infrastructure once it is in place. There is a need for ring-fenced resources to be available.  Poorly maintained paths/pavements, crossings etc. detract from the quality of place and make them less desirable to use.

It is now rare that a week goes by without the publication of a report on air quality in urban areas and what it’s doing to us, especially our children.  This cannot be ignored any longer and when we include all of the other health benefits, it is clear that we urgently need to change the way we plan the places where we live and work from one led by private cars to one focused on people and walking.  It makes sense on so many levels and there is a real time imperative, so your 5 year time horizon is the one that must be met.

If the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland wants to make one change in infrastructure provision that changes people’s lives for the better, please ensure walking is properly prioritised in the development process in line with Scottish Government policy.

Tram Extension to Newhaven: Further Comments by Living Streets Edinburgh

 Introduction

Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary arm of the national charity, Living Streets, which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday walking’. In LSEG our key aim is to promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around the city. This note supplements the responses we made to the initial public consultation in April (http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2018/04/27/commentary-on-taking-trams-to-newhaven-consultation/) and July 2018.

In general, we remain supportive of the tram extension and further investment to improve public transport in Edinburgh. This is essential if the city is to become less car-dependent while at the same time growing by at least an expected 100,000 people in the next 20 years.

Positive aspects

We are encouraged by a number of new elements in the proposed tram design, as shared with us on 11 October 2018. Together, these will represent significant improvements as part of the process of making Edinburgh a truly ‘walkable city’:

  • General adherence to the Council’s Street Design Guidance (SDG), with many tightened junctions, continuous pavements, etc.
  • Three or four locations where roundabouts are being replaced by traffic lights with signalised crossings, which are easier for pedestrians to cross.
  • Major improvement of Elm Row and the awful London Road junction.
  • New ‘public realm in several few areas, eg Bernard Street, Ocean Terminal rouddabout.
  • Many more crossings (signalled and informal) across Leith Walk (north end).
  • On Leith Walk, all lamp-posts will be relocated to the (1.8m wide) central reservation, aiding comprehensive pavement decluttering.

Remaining areas of concern:

  • Some pavements are very narrow, especially at three bus stops at the north end of Leith Walk (one on the west side, two on the east); here the pavement is approximately 2m wide (with bus stop ‘floating’). This is inadequate and fails to meet SDG standards; we support the tram team’s suggestion that pavements are widened to 2.4m, by ‘pinching’ the one-way cycle path further at these bus stops.
  • We continue to have concerns regarding widespread use of ‘floating bus stops’ throughout the scheme, at a time where the promised evaluation of the first such bus stops in the Pilrig to McDonald Rd area remains outstanding. We also understand that there is insufficient room for this type of bus stop design to comply with SDG standards at these three bus stops. A lack of space could create conflicts for cyclists and pedestrians, especially if there isn’t grade separation – as per the Pilrig to McDonald Rd section design.
  • We are concerned that New Kirkgate is still an ‘option’ for a cycle route. Although we understand why northbound cyclists will be banned from entering Constitution St (because cycling will not be permitted through a tram stop) the Kirkgate is not a suitable place for commuter cyclists, or any other non-walking through-traffic.
  • Pavements in the central part of Constitution St at North Leith church must be maintained at 2 metres wide or more. Any provision of loading facilities which reduced either pavement below this would be unacceptable.
  • There is some shared cycle/pedestrian space proposed at Newhaven (extending an already shared space). We support investigation of options to provide separate cycle and walk spaces.

Next steps:

  • We welcome the proposed setting up of an ‘Active Travel Group’ to look at detailed designs, involving stakeholders such as Spokes, Sustrans, Edinburgh Access Panel and LSEG. We will contribute to this as far as possible; however, our default position is that designs must adhere to SDG standards.
  • We understand that consultants will prepare a report identifying exceptions to the standards in the SDG, which will be shared with the Active Travel Group.
  • Funding has been secured to consider cycle route options from Foot o’ the Walk to Ocean Terminal. Again we will participate as necessary with this, but we query the proposition that Ocean Terminal is necessarily where most cyclists want to head to from Leith Walk at all? We expect that there will be a range of destinations for cyclists leaving Leith Walk northwards (to east and west as well as north) and these may be more important desire lines for cyclists than Ocean Terminal.
  • We ask the Council to report on the evaluation of the Floating Bus Stop designs on Leith Walk.
  • While we welcome the greatly-improved design of Elm Row, including the stopping-up of Montgomery Street, we suggest that a modelling exercise is undertaken in order to understand the effects of any traffic displacement on other streets in the vicinity.
  • We welcome a number of potential opportunities to secure other street improvements which are beyond the immediate scope of the tram project such as: improved public realm at Ocean Terminal; traffic management of streets between Easter Road and Leith Walk; removal of the roundabout at foot of Easter Road at Leith Links; and re-instatement of historic ‘Boardwalk’ along the coast.

 

The full response can be downloaded as a pdf file here – Tram Extension to Newhaven Further Comments by Living Streets Edinburgh

Tram safety review – what about pedestrians?

16th August letter to Councillor Lesley Macinnes

Dear Councillor Macinnes

We are very pleased to see some real debates starting in earnest about a vision for Edinburgh where people (pedestrians!) take precedence over traffic and look forward to participating in these discussions over the coming months.

Meanwhile, there is one important matter to which we wanted to draw your attention, concerning the motion on tram safety which you put to full Council of 29 June last year. This essentially called for a “thorough infrastructure review…to improve pedestrian and cycling safety”. A consultation was carried out by the Council in response to your motion, but this dealt with cycling safety alone.  Our response focussed on the need to respond to your motion by also considering pedestrian safety:  http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2018/04/10/edinburgh-tram-route-cycle-safety-consultation-comments-by-lse

We were then further disappointed to see walking safety considerations and improvements once more entirely ignored in the Council’s summary of the consultation responses, which again dealt solely with cycling safety:   https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/tram-route-cycle-safety-improvements/

We subsequently raised these concerns directly with the Active Travel Team; however, we were unable to convince them that a wider remit for the project to include the safety and convenience of pedestrians was as necessary as that of cyclists. Discussion on the walking aspects of the project seem purely incidental.  So far the sole focus has been on managing the potentially negative impacts for pedestrian movement as a result of cycling improvements, eg loss of footway space.

While we recognise how important it was to respond to the tragic death of the cyclist Zhi Min Soh, we don’t regard the overall Council response to your motion as acceptable. There are considerably more pedestrians injured on Princes Street and other roads than cyclists. We would therefore like to request two actions:

  • Could you ask officials to revisit the review to highlight measures which address pedestrian safety and convenience along the tram route, as required by your motion to Council?
  • Would you consider appointing a councillor as a ‘walking champion’ for the Council, in a similar role to the cycling champion? We feel that this might be a useful measure to ensure that pedestrian interests are given more attention than is often the case currently, where ‘active travel’ effort focuses principally on cycling, and does not give sufficient weight to walking.

Kind regards

David Spaven

Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group