Tag Archives: Trams

Commentary on ‘Taking Trams to Newhaven’ consultation

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

Edinburgh Tram Route Cycle Safety Consultation: Comments by LSE

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.

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

Active Travel Campaigners Welcome Council Move On New Picardy Place Junction

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 [1] by a deputation from Living Streets Edinburgh [2] and Spokes [3], CEC’s new Transport and Environment Committee today backed a motion from Green Party Councillor, Chas Booth [4], 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:

[1] The 2-page Living Streets / Spokes briefing paper to the T &E Committee can be found here.

[2] 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/

[3] Spokes is the Lothian Cycle Campaign. http://www.spokes.org.uk/

[4] Councillor Booth’s motion (with minor amendments, not shown here) was as follows:

[The Committee]

  1. 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;
  2. Notes that the Edinburgh Tram Extension and Leith Programme all-party oversight group has not met since the council election in May;
  3. Expresses concern at the lack of public consultation on changes to a significant element of the city’s transport infrastructure;
  4. Agrees that full public consultation on proposed changes to the Picardy Place junction should take place as soon as possible;
  5. 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;
  6. 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

Objection to Planning Application York Place / Elder st

Objection from Living Streets Edinburgh to Planning Application York Place / Elder st 15/04868/AMC

Elder-Street-GeneralThis objection is sent on behalf of Living Streets Edinburgh, a group that campaigns for improved conditions for pedestrians in the City.  We also work to ensure that the City Council follows its own policies and guidance with regard to pedestrians.

We object to this application on a number of grounds:

  1. It conflicts with the City Council’s Street Design Guidance, particularly with respect to footway widths.
  2. It worsens conditions for disabled pedestrians (and by extension for all pedestrians) by introducing steps where none exist currently, and by failing to properly protect pedestrian space and crossing in the shared space area. Therefore by accepting this application as it is the Council would fail to comply with the law (Equality Act 2010).
  3. It conflicts with the City Council’s Active Travel Action Plan by failing to provide comfortable, convenient and safe pedestrian routes.

The specifics of each of these points are as follows:

elder-street-narrow-pavements-2Pavement widths – Elder Street and York Pace are classed as a strategic retail / high streets in the Street Design Guidance and as such should desire to have a pavement width of 4 meters, with an absolute minimum of 2.5 meters.  The application fails to meet this in a number of locations:

  • Elder Street, at the junction with York Place, north side, adjacent to loading bay / car park entrance;
  • Elder Street at the far right, top side;
  • The footway on the south/west side of Elder St also appears to have been split with part level, part on steps. If this is indeed the case then it also effectively narrows the footway below standard.
  • Elder-Street-Cycle-Lane[Based on this application, we also have some concerns about the south side of York Place where a two way cycle lane appears to have been squeezed onto the pavement, however subsequent planning documents claim that the full pavement width has been retained, which we consider vital]

Equality Act and accessibility.  Introduction of steps on north / east side of Elder Street – this footway currently provides step free access from York Place (east) to the St James Centre.  There is no justification for placing new steps in this location.  Elder-Street-stepsThe step free route involves four separate road crossings rather than the current one, flagrantly disregarding the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 to improve (not worsen) conditions for disabled people.  No contrasting coloured strip is shown to indicate the edge of the “footway” and the start of the “roadway” in the shared space area; again a vital feature from an accessibility point of view.

Elder-Street-CrossingComfortable, convenient and safe pedestrian routes.  There should be a zebra crossing connecting Multrees Walk to the St James Centre.  This street will still have vehicles driving up and down it and crossing pedestrians (especially older and disabled people) need priority crossing in what is essentially is a pedestrian area.  The Street Design Guidance states that the Council will on such streets “Provide pedestrian crossing points every 50-100m, ideally associated with entrances to major buildings.”

The “footway” area in the shared space area should be protected with bollards to prevent the footway parking that takes there at present.  Again, this also has Equality Act implications; footway parking is one of the most significant mobility issues for visually impaired pedestrians.

Within these plans there are two staggered junctions crossing York Place and Elder Street.  Again both should be removed, as noted in the Street Design Guidance that states “Avoid staggered crossings”.  It currently takes up to 3 minutes just to cross 22 meters of York Place (Youtube video showing crossing time).  With the change in road layout with dedicated turning lanes it should be easy to remove the Elder street stagger as a minimum.  It is also unclear where cyclists on York Place are supposed to cross this junction.  Would they dismount and use the small pedestrian island?

Elder-street-Bike-RacksAt the main entrance to the St James Centre there appear to be 14 bike racks at 90 degrees to the footway.   If these bike racks are used the footway will be blocked – particularly difficult for older and disabled pedestrians, and the many who have prams or are carrying shopping.

The swept path analysis only shows busses traveling to / from the west end of York Place.  Nothing is shown from the east.  Busses currently traveling from Elder Street heading east bound have to dangerously overhang the pavement on the north side of York place to clear the existing pedestrian island.  No attempt has been made to remove this risk to pedestrians walking on the pavement.

York-Pace-Bus-Overhang

Available as a downloadable PDF – Objection from Living Streets Edinburgh to Planning Application York Place Elder St-2

 

 

Edinburgh Tram Inquiry Call for Evidence – Response of Living Streets Scotland

The Living Streets Scotland official response to the Edinburgh tram enquiry can be found here – Edinburgh Tram Inquiry Call for Evidence – Response of Living Streets Scotland

The main points of the response:-

  •  Poor crossing facilities, using out-dated concepts such as barrier islands with inadequate space for volume of pedestrians (example York Place)
  • Unnecessary controlled crossings, not justified by the volume of traffic – which needlessly hinder pedestrian movement (example St Andrews Square)
  • Significant impacts on existing signalised crossings, causing extensive delays for pedestrians and dangerous crowding at junctions. This has led to risky crossing behaviour due to frustration (example Princes Street)
  • Conflicts with cyclists through poorly designed shared space (St. Andrews Square, / North St. Andrews Street)
  • Poor routes and integration between the tram route stops and major destinations and interchanges, creating indirect and diversionary routes to major facilities (Examples include: Gyle Shopping Centre / Edinburgh College / Bankhead Stop and Waverley railway station / St. Andrews Square)
  • Generally, worse conditions for walkers and cyclists in terms of safety, convenience and comfort (example Haymarket)