Tag Archives: Active Travel

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

Council Transport Delivery ‘Seriously Imbalanced’ Against Pedestrians

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

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

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

Notes of Living Streets Edinburgh Group Annual Public Meeting 2017

Notes of Living Streets Edinburgh Group Annual Public Meeting, Friends Meeting House, Edinburgh, 7.00pm, 28 September 2017

 

  1. Convenor’s Welcome and report

David Hunter welcomed supporters to the meeting and summarised the Group’s activity over the past year which included:

  • Preparing a manifesto for the May Council elections with four main asks;
    • transform the way our streets are managed
    • more investment in walking
    • a traffic plan for the city centre
    • major pedestrianisation project (George St)
  • Welcoming some evidence of CEC movement on transforming street management, eg review of A-boards policy.
  • Regular liaison with a number of CEC councillors and officers including recent walkabout with Cllr Macinnes. Welcomed Paul Lawrence’s vision of doubling the width of all pavements – more radical than us!
  • Responded to more than a dozen cycle route proposals – with some welcome walking improvements, but in most cases incidental and inconsistent, and frequent failure to apply Street Design Standards to pavement widths etc.
  • Inputted to planning and traffic management plans, notably Picardy Place, proposed as a giant roundabout
  • Commented on or reported countless road works impeding walking, demonstrating an endemic failure within CEC systems of management / enforcement
  • Kept pressing the Festival Streets concept (closing streets to traffic) and hope to see support developing for an initiative in 2018
  • Finally, we’ve strengthened our Committee and got involved in an ever widening range of campaign activities: we would be pleased to hear from anyone who wants to help in any way – responding to consultations, social media, or simply reporting faults and following up on them.

David then introduced and welcomed Cllr Lesley Macinnes, the new Convenor of Transport and Environment Committee.

 

  1. Cllr Macinnes

Cllr Macinnes spoke about her background and, as a new councillor, her wish to understand the issues and agendas that her position required, to build relationships within and outwith the Council and to prioritise the work plan of the administration which the SNP leads, with Labour. She emphasised the commitment to empower communities and citizens and encourage participation. She considered the 20mph scheme to be an outstanding success.

At the same time there have been some major issues which need urgent attention, notably the business case for extending the tram. She was an advocate of more pedestrian zones (not only in the city centre0, reducing congestion and car traffic generally, as the city is expected to grow to a population of 600,000 in the next 30 years. She was keen to tackle pavement parking and improve street cleansing and road/pavement maintenance. She is part of a ministerial working group to improve air quality and introduce Low Emission Zones in line with recent Scottish Government announcements.

She spoke of her recent decision to postpone decisions on the controversial Picardy Place plans and committed to a programme of intensive consultation before a final decision was made; however she also stressed the legal, financial and physical constraints. She pointed to Silverknowes as an example of her willingness to intervene (to halt a road scheme that was inappropriate for cyclists).

She welcomed the input of groups like Living Streets and would also appreciate their public support where possible, as there would also be vocal opposition to many proposals to improve active travel and curtail traffic.

Cllr Macinnes then took questions from the floor on issues including: the possibility of more, or better advertised Park and Ride, controlling or removing ‘A-boards’, improving fault reporting systems, the prospects for a joined-up approach to managing streets through ‘street marshals’ and the hazard caused by bollards and chains on the High Street.

The audience joined in thanks to Cllr Macinnes for her talk, insights and openness to ideas for improving walking in Edinburgh.

 

  1. Stuart Hay

Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland, gave a presentation showing some possibilities of radical improvement to public space in Edinburgh and illustrating initiatives from around the world which other cities (some ‘competitors’ to Edinburgh for visitors) have introduced to make them more ‘places for people’.

 

  1. Workshop sessions

The meeting then broke into informal groups to look at maps and stimulate thoughts on specific locations and issues, in both the city centre and across the council area, where there were particular barriers to walking – or indeed, good practice.                (These have been collated and will be passed on to the Council).

 

The meeting closed at 9.00pm.

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: