Tag Archives: Pavement Clutter

General response to various cycle schemes under ‘spaces for people’

This is a general response to the various cycle schemes advertised under the ‘spaces for people’ initiative (eg Wester Hailes Road, Ferry Road, Comiston Road, etc).

We support improvements to cycling infrastructure which encourages cycling and reduces motor traffic, so long as it is not detrimental to the actual and potential walking environment. Organisations like Spokes have rightly been very clear that new space for cycling must come from space for motor vehicles, rather than for walking. We therefore wish to record our support for the overall programme. However, we have two significant qualifications.

Pedestrian improvements

It is hard to see *any* improvements for people walking in these schemes? While general pavement widening may be difficult to achieve simultaneously with installation of cycle lanes, this should be a priority where pavements are especially narrow (eg south side of Ferry Road). We would expect to see at least significant efforts to remove pavement clutter such as signage poles and guard rails and simple measures such as cutting back hedges, sweeps of roadworks debris (traffic cones, sandbags, etc.) We also want to priority for pedestrians increased at all signalled junctions. Given that almost everyone is a pedestrian in their own neighbourhood, such measures are also likely to increase local support for these schemes, including among people who don’t cycle.

Floating Bus stops

We note that there are dozens of ‘bus stop bypasses’ or ‘floating bus stops’ proposed in these cycle schemes, which route cyclists between the bus stop and the pavement, rather than on the road. There appear to be at least: 13 on Comiston Road, 10 on Ferry Road, 9 in Wester Hailes, 7 on Meadow Place Road and 5 on Fountainbridge.

As the Council’s Active Travel team is well aware, the Living Streets Edinburgh Group has never been happy with this design concept which means that bus passengers boarding – and especially alighting from – buses have to cross a cycle way and may therefore unexpectedly encounter a cyclist, possibly travelling at considerable speed. While we recognise the benefits for cyclists, this design can only disadvantage bus users and pedestrians, especially older people and blind people, many of whose representative organisations have objected to the design concept.

Living Streets Edinburgh did not object to the first Leith Walk examples, on the understanding that a full monitoring and evaluation was carried out. The Council eventually agreed to this in 2017 but although we understand that this exercise has long been completed, it has never been published. It is wholly inappropriate to use the Covid19 pandemic and ‘spaces for everyone’ programme as the means for the sudden mass installation of these controversial bus stop designs at virtually no notice and with minimal consultation.

We therefore strongly oppose their inclusion in the Council’s current proposals. We suggest that instead, a much wider review exercise is taken at a later date, to consider the use of floating bus stops in the city strategically, once evaluation evidence is in the public domain. This should involve all relevant interests – walking, cycling, bus passengers, disability groups, etc.

Shopping Streets – LSE response to Edinburgh Council

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the various schemes to widen pavements in shopping streets (eg Corstorphine, Portobello, Morningside etc). This is a general response to all these schemes, although where we are able to, we will add supplementary comments on specific streets/locations.

First of all, we strongly support the initiative to widen pavements, which in many ‘town centre’ streets are grossly inadequate. This can only be done in many cases by removing on-street parking and loading, except for essential requirements (such as Blue Badge spaces where appropriate). We appreciate that some shops will want to see these parking and loading spaces retained, but crowded narrow pavements cannot possibly be an attractive environment for encouraging shoppers, may of whom arrive on foot or by public transport. Too much space in high streets is occupied by stationary vehicles.

We welcome the acknowledgment of the problems caused by clutter and guard rails and would encourage the council to take a much more vigorous approach to removing or relocating items including unnecessary phone boxes, royal mail boxes, telecoms cabinets etc as well as vertical signage on poles, many of which are no longer required since the Traffic Sign Regulations were changed in 2016.  Decluttering should take account of the various surveys and audits which Living Streets and others have carried out in recent years in many of the locations.

Design details will need to carefully consider and monitor access at bus stops especially for disabled people. We generally support bus priority measures including bus gates.

Where more outdoor space for businesses is provided (eg ‘tables and chairs’) it is essential that adequate clear space is provided for pedestrians and that the benefits to walking of widened footways are not swallowed up by added obstructions. It may be that ‘tables and chairs’ should normally be on reclaimed carriageway space, allowing the pavements themselves to be kept clear.

While we appreciate that these are temporary measures which need to be installed urgently, the extensive use of cones, barriers etc will make many streets look like roadworks, and thus risk making shopping streets look pretty ugly – if we actually want them to contribute to moving discussion forward it’s important that opportunities are taken to make things look better. Suitable gateway features / signage information for the public on the purpose / benefits of the scheme would be useful.

Effective management of schemes is essential, so that cones or barriers that fall over are quickly dealt with. Enforcement of parking and speeding, including a visible role of Police Scotland is important too.

Temporary bike parking should be installed at suitable locations, where they do not add to pavement clutter.

Monitoring of schemes must collect robust data on walking/footfall.

Promoting walking during social distancing (supplementary paper)

1) Introduction

This paper supplements the ‘5 Point Plan’ we produced on 7 May 2020, outlining steps we’d like to see to make walking attractive, safe and accessible during the Coronavrus crisis and its aftermath. It should be read in conjunction with that Plan: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2020/05/09/a-5-point-plan-for-city-of-edinburgh-council-to-promote-walking-during-social-distancing/

We want to see early implementation of the measures outlined in the Council Report and amendment approved on 14 May, especially those which focus most on walking improvements: widening pavements, improving crossings, etc https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=135&MId=5511&Ver=4.

This paper adds to the suggestions in the ‘5 Point Plan’ following further feedback and highlights some specific locations we’d like to see given early and urgent attention to. Living Streets Edinburgh Group is keen to contribute ideas on how Edinburgh should respond, in line with council decisions of 14 May.

2) Pavement Widening

In addition to those already suggested, we want to see consideration given to widening pavements in all of Edinburgh’s ‘town centres’. These are now experiencing queuing on pavements as more shops open and often leave insufficient space for people walking.  Key public transport routes (notably at Waverley and Haymarket) should also be given priority. Other streets which should be widened include Broughton Street and Balgreen Rpad.

3) Road closures

Our ‘five point plan’ suggested closing many residential roads through barriers (‘filters’, which allow people to walk or cycle through) – rather than by banning motor traffic completely, (as at Silverknowes Road, Braid Road etc).  We would like to see a response to this suggestion which could transform many neighbourhoods.

We don’t support the plan to close Viewforth (canal section) to motor traffic, owing to the impact this will have on Yeaman Place, a busy pedestrian street (outside of school times) which is full or parked cars and lacking in any kind of pedestrian crossing facilities. We would prefer to see Yeaman Place itself closed; or at least with mitigation measures such as formal pedestrian crossings introduced.

We want to see the council to show some urgency re-opening the established right of way at Holy Corner, Bruntsfield/Morningside (McLaren’s pub, the former Bank of Scotland).  Signature pubs have illegally blocked this Right of Way for over six months and yet the council has taken no enforcement action, despite the added need for social distancing on the busy, narrow pavement.

4) Guardrails

We welcome the council’s plans to start removing some guardrails as part of temporary cycle schemes (such as Crewe Road South, Old Dalkeith Road). Guardrail removal should not be solely as part of cycle schemes but should also be undertaken where it has particularly adverse impacts on walking.  There are numerous suggestions for guardrail removal in the ‘Tackling Pavement Clutter’ reports sent to Locality Roads Managers in 2019. Other specific locations we want to see guardrails removed are:

  • Morrison Street / Gardners Cres (with associated widened footway). Also north side of Morrison Street, east of Dewar Place.
  • Slateford Road between Ashley Terrace and Robertson Ave (with associated widened footway).
  • Roseburn Street under rail bridge (with associated widened footway).
  • Murrayburn Road (West of Hailsland Road).
  • Polwarth (at roundabout).
  • Colinton Mains Road (at Tesco roundabout)
  • West Port (North side).

5) Enforcement

Many LS supporters have asked for more enforcement of traffic laws, especially speeding (a police matter). Parking enforcement is also going to become even more important to ensure that temporary pavements and cycle lanes are not compromised by illegal parking, loading or waiting. We suggest that a zero tolerance approach is take to such infringements (ie removing any ‘grace period’) so that motorists quickly understand that new traffic restrictions will be enforced rigorously.

In some areas, traffic calming should be introduced. In recent years, there has been too little focus on engineering measures to support compliance with speed limits and we would like to see measures introduced in speeding problem areas.

6) Schools

Although it appears that schools will not generally begin to open until mid-August, we want to see early planning for school re-opening. Measures that should be considered include:

  • extension of the Council’s ‘School Streets’ initiative to ban cars from near the entrances to more schools;
  • engagement with Police Scotland to ensure that a degree of police presence is available to achieve effective enforcement of traffic laws;
  • very clear and early messaging to parents encouraging children to walk, scoot, wheel or cycle. Car drop-off’s should be explicitly discouraged, and not permitted in the vicinity of school gates.

7) Other measures

We have not yet seen any response to our request for removal of street clutter as a ‘quick win’ to aid walking and social distancing. As with guardrails the Council already has a policy of de-cluttering which should be accelerated at the present time.

We want to see public campaigns by the council asking residents to cut back hedges which block pavements and are illegal. Many residents probably do not realise this, or the problems that encroaching vegetation can cause. The council should also take enforcement measures itself, recovering costs where voluntary compliance cannot be achieved.  Due regard should be given to protecting wildlife and nesting birds in particular.

We want to see urgent improvements for people to cross the road, especially in reducing ‘wait times’ for the green man. We look forward to seeing a list of locations where these will be trialled as soon as possible.

West Edinburgh 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 welcome this significant investment in active travel. We perceive the principal aim of this scheme as providing safe and attractive cycling routes to the Gyle and Edinburgh Park business areas from the north and south, taking opportunities to enhance the local pedestrian environment. We would like to see these opportunities maximised, which will benefit all people in the residential area, not only those who wish to cycle. A fundamental point is that all proposals and designs must explicitly conform to the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance for the category/categories of street. We have agreed the appended general ’walkability criteria’ to assess street design proposals, and would ask that they are also applied here.

We would suggest that the objectives of the scheme need further clarification; in particular, we note that the project website states “efforts will be made to preserve…the flow of vehicles”. While we certainly agree that the effect on traffic flows needs to be carefully considered, we think that the scheme should try to reduce some motor traffic, especially commuting by private car to the Gyle/Edinburgh Park areas.

B. General observations.

Positive aspects

We welcome many aspects of the proposed design, such as new pedestrian crossings (eg Glasgow Road, Maybury Drive, Wester Hailes Road, Clovenstone Road) and the bridge over the railway line at Gyle Park. We welcome exploiting all opportunities for pedestrian ‘short cuts’ for example potentially from S Gyle Access to S Gyle Crescent via Flasshes Yard, and Dell Road to the Water of Leith. We would like particular attention to be given to enhancing walking links (in terms of safety, accessibility and convenience) to the schools in the vicinity of the project.  However, we would like to see a number of walking improvements included, as set out below:

Footway widths

The current and proposed width of footways on the many streets included in this scheme is not generally shown on the maps provided but many are too narrow. We wish to see any footway which is currently below the minimum width as specified in the Street Design Guidance widened to meet the “absolute minimum” standard – and of course, the aim should be to exceed absolute minimum standards. As a flagship ‘walking and cycling scheme’ meeting agreed minimum standards should be an absolutely fundamental requirement the scheme.

Junction radii

The residential areas in the scheme area were designed before the ‘Designing Streets’ 2010 guidance and thinking, and long before 20mph became the norm for local streets. They often feature wide junction splays and long corner radii. These make it more difficult and unsafe for pedestrians to cross side streets, as there is further to travel and the geometry encourages higher vehicle speeds.  There are probably dozens of such junctions in the scheme area and we would like to see the maximum possible improvements to these, including at the junctions where raised tables are proposed.

Dropped kerbs

Similarly many road junctions in residential areas lack dropped kerbs (eg N Gyle Drive at N Gyle Road). These should be installed as a matter of course as part of the scheme. We understand that the Council has a full database of ‘missing’ dropped kerbs which should be used to address this. Tactile paving should be installed where required.

Traffic calming

We note (and welcome) the proposed use of raised tables at several junctions (for example Craigmount Grove). We would support wider use of traffic calming measures on streets where local communities perceive speeding and rat-running as a significant problem.

Shared Use pavements

There are several places where it is proposed to share the footway between pedestrians and cyclists (eg Westburn Avenue, S Gyle Access). We are opposed to this design in principle, which we believe builds in conflict between the two modes, although we accept that this is viable in some park/footpath settings (as opposed to pavements). We note that Sustrans has now also adopted this policy position.

Public transport interchange

Measures should be taken to improve the routes to the bus and tram stops (particularly Bankhead which has a complicated multi stage crossing to Edinburgh college / Napier campus). This needs to be simplified with more frequent and generous pedestrians phases. Ideally these should coincide with tram arrival times – an opportunity to use ‘smart’ signal technology? technology.

We have long had concerns that ‘floating bus stops’ pose a risk to pedestrians – particularly bus passengers alighting who will not expect the possibility of encountering cyclists. We agreed to support their installation on Leith Walk in 2016, on the understanding that a full and objective evaluation of this perceived risk is carried out. As this has still not been published we therefore continue to oppose the installation of further floating bus stops, including as part of this scheme.

Seats

We would like to see seats installed at suitable locations throughout the area, which will encourage less mobile pedestrians to use the streets, knowing that there are opportunities to rest at suitable locations, especially where it is hilly or there are steps. One such location would be the proposed Gyle Park bridge.

Pavement clutter

We assume that a full de-cluttering exercise will be carried out on all streets included within the scheme, removing unnecessary signage poles, inappropriately-sited cycle racks and redundant guardrail, for example.

C. Conclusion

We welcome the proposed improvements to the pedestrian environment throughout the route; however, we note that there are very many other opportunities to improve walking in local areas from Wester Hailes to East Craigs. Although this scheme has a significant budget, we appreciate that it will not be possible to fund all the walking and cycling improvements which are desirable. The extensive new development in west Edinburgh is also an opportunity to ensure that more  investment for improving pedestrian infrastructures achieved through the planning process and consents. We would ask that the prioritisation of spending between measures which principally benefit walking on the one hand and cycling on the other is done transparently and takes account of the number of people likely to benefit. There should be no presumption that ‘walking measures’ – such as widening pavements and dropping kerbs – are necessarily secondary to ‘cycling measures’.

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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’?

Reducing Pavement Clutter

Living Streets Edinburgh Group is pleased to have been awarded a grant from Paths for All under its ‘Smarter Choices, Smarter Places’ programme to tackle ‘pavement clutter’ in the city.  We aim to build on the ‘A-board ban’ to help free some of Edinburgh’s narrow pavements of obstructions. The City of Edinburgh Council is providing match funding for the project, which runs to September 2019.

 

The idea is that we will work with local council staff to identify – and hopefully remove – obstructions which get in the way of people walking. Our focus is especially on ‘fixed clutter – such as guard rails, signage poles or old phone boxes, but we will look at other obstructions too such as bins or encroaching vegetation from hedges. We aim to identify at least 100 pieces of ‘clutter’ in all. Our focus is across the whole city, not just in the city centre and we want to look at residential areas and local shopping districts.

As well as making some specific streets clearer, we hope that the project will generally raise awareness of problems caused by clutter and opportunities to remove it. We also see this as an opportunity for LSEG to build relationships with locality staff and also to involve community councils, and the Edinburgh Access Panel.

How you can help

We are looking for local community groups and individuals to tell us areas where you think there is a particular problem with pavement clutter. You can contact us by email, twitter of Facebook and we will then have a look at the street. We will also invite community councils in areas that we are looking at to join us on a walk around the area and suggest items that should be cleared from the pavement.