Tag Archives: Edinburgh Council

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

Picardy Place Decision ‘Embarrassing For Councillors’

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 [1] 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

[1]  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

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.

Party Manifestos Edinburgh: 2017 Council Elections

Our analysis of all the parties’ manifestos for the recent elections (see below) shows that there is much common ground on the need to improve conditions for walking in Edinburgh, as a key means of improving the health, environment, economy of the city.

Edinburgh has inherited – from the vision of politicians and planners hundreds of years ago – a compact pattern of development which still lends itself to walking, but that is not enough for the 21st century. We urge Councillors of all parties to work pro-actively together to deliver the transformation of the car-dominated public realm which Edinburgh residents and visitors deserve.

Labour:

Poor air quality presents a significant challenge to young and old, and broken surfaces on pavements and roads affect us all, whether walking, driving or cycling.

Create a dedicated ‘Budget for Walking’ to be used, for example to install more pedestrian crossings, more drop kerbs and increase the number of paths and pedestrian zones.

Make significant progress towards making our city ‘barrier free’ by improving accessibility to buildings, and making streets and pavements suitable for people with disabilities.

 

SNP:

 …ensuring Edinburgh remains a walkable city where the needs of pedestrians are central to how our streets are designed.

We will invest £100m over the next five years to fix our roads and pavements.

We will tackle pavement obstructions and further reduce street clutter. We will tackle parking at drop kerbs and parking on pavements as soon as we have the powers to do so and conduct a wide-ranging review on access issues for people with disabilities.

Utility companies continually digging up our roads and pavements can inflict damage to our infrastructure, increase traffic pressure and cause chaos in our communities. We will explore the introduction of a rent charge for utility companies to prevent such disruption.

 

Green:

 …create safe and attractive routes for cyclists and walkers

Review and set a target to significantly increase the current 58% share of people walking, cycling or using public transport to commute;

Introduce a number of days where public transport, cycling and walking are given priority

Make it easier and more attractive for people to choose walking and cycling

We back more money for well-managed services which improve day to day life: streets free of litter and dog-fouling; bin collections which are on time; and well-maintained pavements, cycle-paths and roads.

Tackle the state of roads and pavements by putting in place a Roads Inquiry and Action Plan with three priorities:

  1. Prevent (reducing large trucks and pavement mounting);
            1. Manage (better co-ordination of utilities’ road works and improving roads team customer service);
  2. Invest (push for the Scottish Government to switch money from high-profile “prestige” projects and towards maintenance and repair).

 

Conservative:

 Improve the condition of Edinburgh’s roads, paths and pavements for all.

Create an Edinburgh Index, published annually or more frequently, showing an assessment of road, path and pavement conditions…

Increase targeted provision for pedestrians such as safe school zones, pedestrian zones and addressing casualty blackspots.

 

Liberal Democrat:

 Pavements are in an equally dangerous state [to roads]

We want to make it easier for people to get around our great city, whether by walking, cycling, getting around by public transport and using the car where appropriate. It means ensuring the city is accessible for all, regardless of physical or sensory ability. Liberal Democrats will work with others to ensure the city improves the experience of people who walk in the city.

…will maintain the walking and cycling element of our transport budget at 10% {I pointed out to their transport spokesperson months ago that the 10% is all for cycling!]

…encourage more people to cycle and to do so considerately, especially where space is shared with pedestrians.

…we will focus on repairing potholes in the city and deteriorating pavements.