Following the regrettable decision of the City Council’s Transport & Environment Committee on 25th January 2018 to back the traffic-generating gyratory roundabout design, Living Streets Edinburgh is now focusing on the need for significant improvements in the detailed design of the Picardy Place scheme. Incredibly, the latest Council design actually represents a net deterioration in the pedestrian environment compared to the current (pre-Leith Street closure) situation on the ground – as a result of, in particular, more circuitous road crossings, narrower pavement sections, and cycling /walking conflicts where new cycleways bisect footways. This is not acceptable.
The City Council decision to back the controversial Picardy Place gyratory roundabout will be a ‘continuing embarrassment’ to those Councillors who approved the plan, say local walking campaigners. Living Streets Edinburgh  criticised the decision of Transport & Environment Councillors from the Conservative, Labour and SNP groups for giving the green light to what the walking campaigners describe as ‘a 1960s’ solution to a 21st century problem’ Living Streets Edinburgh Convenor, David Spaven, commented:
‘Councillors – other than the visionary Greens – have backed a fundamentally flawed plan, which runs completely counter to the Council’s own transport policies. We now face the deplorable prospect that the Council’s design will make the Picardy Place and Leith Street even worse for pedestrians than it is at present. This will surely be a continuing embarrassment to these councillors, unless big changes are made to the detail of the design in the months ahead.
‘We will be pressing strongly for design improvements by Council officers to reduce the negative impact of more circuitous road crossings, narrower pavements and cycling /walking conflicts where new cycleways bisect pavements.’
NOTES FOR EDITORS
 Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local volunteer arm of the national charity campaigning for ‘everyday’ walking. See: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/END OF RELEASE
RSO/17/13 Leith Street, Calton Road, Greenside Row, Waterloo Place
Living Streets Edinburgh Group objects to RSO 17/13 on the following grounds:
1) All – pavement widths
Leith Street is designated as a Strategic High Street, according to the Street Design Guidance adopted by the Council in 2015 (i). This specifies that the pavement should be a minimum width of 3 metres (2.5 metres allowed only in short sections), with a desirable minimum width of 4m or wider. We cannot determine the exact pavement widths from the drawings, but it is clear that the pavement widths proposed in the order are far below the Council’s own specified standards on both sides of the street.
2) Crossing point of Leith Street East at Greenside Row
The drawing seems to imply that the entire pavement both the north and south sides of the Greenside Row corner is re-determined as cycle way from both footway and carriageway (10, 12, 16, 13). This leaves no footway whatsoever exclusively for pedestrians crossing Greenside Row. The drawing suggest that pedestrians are expected to wait in a designated cycle way before crossing Greenside Row. This is a busy pavement at all times – and is already excessively busy at certain times of the year (eg during the August festivals). It is unacceptable that pedestrians at this location should mix with cyclists. Of course, it would also be also extremely unhelpful for cyclists to encounter pedestrians on the cycle track.
3) Junction of Leith Street East at Greenside Row
The corner radii of Greenside Row (at 10, 16) are excessively large, which will encourage vehicles to travel fast when entering and exiting Leith Street. This is an inappropriate design for a 20 mph street. The Street Design Guidance (see above) specifies that the maximum radius for a corner of this type of street is 3 metres, and although not shown, the radii proposed are clearly far in excess of this.
4) Cycle manoeuvres, Leith Street (west) to Greenside Row
We are unclear what manoeuvres cyclists are expected to make heading north from the west side of Leith Street (6) to join the cycle track on the east side (10). We are concerned at the risk of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians involved in this manoeuvre.
5) Junction of Leith Street (east) at Calton Road
It is our understanding that the junction of Leith Street and Calton Road will be governed by a signalised crossing, although this does not appear to be indicated on the drawings. We would support this, so long as adequate pedestrian priority is provided in signal timings to permit the heavy pedestrian traffic to proceed effectively north/south. However, we have concerns that the cycle track on Leith Street heading south ends abruptly at Calton Road (10). There could be conflict at this junction between pedestrians and cyclists wishing to continue south, for example to the Bridges,
6) ‘Floating Bus Stop’ Leith Street (East).
The drawing shows a ‘floating bus stop’ (17). Living Streets’ opposes the further introduction of this feature until an objective and thorough monitoring is completed on the first such floating stop, introduced on Leith Walk (ii). This is because we are concerned at the risk of conflict between pedestrians (especially elderly and or disabled bus passengers alighting from a bus) and cyclists, where the cycle way lies between the bus stop and the pavement. This would be especially the case if the cycle way is, as we think 2-way, so downhill (northbound) cyclists may be going quite fast. No such monitoring has yet taken place or been planned to our knowledge and so we therefore oppose the redeterminations introducing this feature.
for Living Streets Edinburgh Group
5 Rose Street
17 October 2017
Cycling and walking campaign groups have welcomed the decision of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) to look at new options to boost active travel in the re-design of the controversial Picardy Place / Leith Street junction associated with the St James Quarter development. Following a presentation  by a deputation from Living Streets Edinburgh  and Spokes , CEC’s new Transport and Environment Committee today backed a motion from Green Party Councillor, Chas Booth , which argued that:
‘ the redesign of a significant city centre junction and surrounding streets presents an opportunity for traffic reduction, development of active travel infrastructure, and improvement of the public realm’
The Committee agreed to receive a report within one Committee cycle, setting out options for achieving these objectives in Picardy Place and surrounding streets, and reporting on the decision-making processes to date on the Picardy Place junction, the proposed future decision making, and what the democratic oversight of the process has been to date.
David Spaven, Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh commented:
‘We’re delighted that the T & E Committee has decided to look at the options for better provision for cycling and walking at this important new junction. At present, conditions for active travel are highly sub-standard in the area – but we hope that all interested parties and the public at large can now work towards a final design which is both a symbolic and very practical demonstration of the importance of first, walking and cycling, and second, ‘place’ rather than ‘movement’, in a highly-visible and much-used area of the city centre.
‘The Census and other surveys show that the Council is making progress on its targets to reduce car use and to boost cycling, walking and public transport. It would be tragic if this success was jeopardised by a traffic-dominated design at this major city centre location.’
Martin McDonnell of Spokes commented:
‘There are a number of aspects of the currently proposed road design which give us cause for concern. We believe there is still too much emphasis on providing space for vehicles. While the provision of a dedicated cycle path and wider pavements is welcome, the cycle path and some pavements will narrower than they should be for these busy streets. It is also most unwise to incorporate shared cyclist / pedestrian space, particularly as many cyclists will be on ‘A to B’ journeys rather than mingling. This is a recipe for conflict, with the most vulnerable users (including pedestrians who are frail or have a disability) likely to come off worst.
‘Important green space and public realm (including mature trees) would be lost in front of the cathedral and on Picardy Place itself, in order to accommodate three lanes of traffic and the large island in the centre of the gyratory roundabout.
‘In light of concerns about the large gyratory intersection, which would be dangerous for cycling, and the loss of public space, we feel there is a great opportunity to explore removing the entire island at the centre of the proposed roundabout and the associated gyratory system from the design, thus creating improved conditions for cycling, and allowing the public realm and footway width to be increased on all three sides of the junction.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
 Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local voluntary arm of the national charity which campaigns for improved conditions for ‘everyday walking’. http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/
 Spokes is the Lothian Cycle Campaign. http://www.spokes.org.uk/
 Councillor Booth’s motion (with minor amendments, not shown here) was as follows:
- Notes the decision of council on 10 March 2016 in regard to the regeneration of the St James Quarter, including a decision on the future governance of the Growth Accelerator Model (GAM) works programme and cross-party members’ oversight of the project;
- Notes that the Edinburgh Tram Extension and Leith Programme all-party oversight group has not met since the council election in May;
- Expresses concern at the lack of public consultation on changes to a significant element of the city’s transport infrastructure;
- Agrees that full public consultation on proposed changes to the Picardy Place junction should take place as soon as possible;
- Agrees that the redesign of a significant city centre junction and surrounding streets presents an opportunity for traffic reduction, development of active travel infrastructure, and improvement of the public realm;
- Therefore agrees to receive a report within one cycle setting out options for achieving this in Picardy Place and surrounding streets, and that this report will also set out the decision-making process to date on Picardy Place, and the proposed future decision making, and in particular what the democratic oversight of the process has been.’
END OF RELEASE
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
- An increase (or no net loss) of pedestrian space.
- Footways meet recommended widths.
- Conflicts with cyclists are avoided, with dedicated and well-defined space provided for pedestrians (including separated ‘tiger’ crossings).
- Junctions make foot crossing easier by being raised, with radii of corners and widths minimised
- In busier areas, controlled crossings are provided in convenient places, with acceptable waiting and crossing times.
- Pedestrian priority is made clear at all the key crossing points of the cycle routes, eg with continuous footways across side streets at junctions.
- The design incorporates features to assist people with disabilities, including dropped kerbs (where continuous footways are not feasible), seating and tactile paving.
- The footway is made free from clutter.
- Guardrails are avoided / removed.
Impact of traffic:
- 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.
- 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