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
Living Streets Edinburgh Group has previously objected to RSO 17/13 on the grounds stated in Appendix A. In response to a re-advertisement of the RSO, along with advertisement of TRO 17/81, we re-state our objection to the RSO, and state our objections to the TRO, on the following grounds: Continue reading Leith Street TRO and RSO – Response to re-advertisement
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
Living Streets Edinburgh is pleased to support the initiatives to make better use of Chambers St. We support the principles proposed in the TRO.
However, in the interests of taking placemaking seriously, we would like to see the proposal go further than simply creating a performance/gathering space in front of the NMS. Any placemaking project should surely consider the street as a whole, and not simply one short stretch.
This would provide a more balanced effect, rather than creating an uneven patchwork. It would also respond to the congestion that regularly occurs on the pavement around the new, tower entrance to the NMS building.
This buildout would provide a much enhanced pedestrian experience both for those travelling along the street, and for those visiting the museum. Similar consideration should also be given to the junction with South Bridge, which records very high footfall, but which is often an unpleasant experience for those on foot.
Finally, to enable pedestrians safer access to the Cowgate, we propose a zebra crossing across Chambers Street at West College St. This would link up NMS to the steps down to Guthrie Street, as well as making it easier for staff and students moving between George Square and University buildings on the far side of Chambers st.