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.
Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group
Our support for tram extension
Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local volunteer arm of the national charity which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday’ walking as part of a high-quality public realm.
We support the principle of extension of the existing tram route to Leith and beyond. This kind of high-quality public transport is essential to meet the transport needs of a growing city in a safe and sustainable way.
Some 99% of tram users access the tram on foot (or wheelchair), and we support the principle of strategically-located tram stops with safe, convenient and high-quality access on foot from the surrounding catchments.
Continue reading Commentary on ‘Taking Trams to Newhaven’ consultation
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.
The main general point that we would want to make in relation to this consultation is that, while we understand the urgent need to review the tram routes in the light of the legitimate concerns for the safety of cyclists, the main victims of road vehicle collisions are pedestrians. Their needs should be at the forefront of thinking on improvements to the tram route, bearing in mind also that 99% of tram users access the tram on foot (or wheelchair). The motion to Council by Cllr Macinnes in June explicitly aimed to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety and convenience (our emphasis); this initiative should therefore be named as ‘Tram Route Pedestrian and Cycle Safety Consultation’.
However there is little in this proposal to address the specific needs of pedestrians and we want to see much more vigorous action to address a number of long-standing problems which pedestrians face on the tram route in the city centre. In particular, we have frequently drawn attention to the unacceptably long wait times that people walking along Princes Street face when trying to cross adjoining streets such as Frederick Street, Hanover Street and South St David Street. We strongly recommend that the pedestrian phases are reviewed at all signalled junctions along Princes Street (and indeed along the entire route, for example at Haymarket). The aim would be to reduce the wait times for pedestrians to cross and if necessary increase ‘green man’ times and the frequency of crossing opportunities. Making these improvements will in turn increase pedestrian safety, as it will reduce the incidence of ‘red man’ crossing, which is encouraged by the unacceptably long times that people have to wait for the pedestrian phase.
Continue reading Edinburgh Tram Route Cycle Safety Consultation: Comments by LSE
The Bank of Scotland grounds at Holy Corner have been used as path off the main road to Bruntsfield on a daily basis for many years by cyclists and pedestrians. The narrow pavements in the area have meant that the preferred safe route for local people has been through the bank grounds.
Residents have raised concerns that the public access across the Bank of Scotland site may be lost when the land is sold. Local Councillor Melanie Main is working with residents to safeguard public access: the public have been using this as a route for very many years, and it may well therefore be a Right of Way. A recorded Right of Way would safeguard continued access across the site, which may be important if there were proposals for changes, e.g: a building development in the grounds in the future. To establish the right and have it registered it is necessary to provide evidence from those who have used the route.
Local city of Edinburgh councillor Melanie Main is seeking evidence that the path has been open and used by people – this can then be taken forward to ensure the path is made a permanent right of way.
Please see the attached questionnaire
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/ ‘