Welcome to Living Streets Edinburgh

Edinburgh, with its generally dense population and walkable distances, could be a European exemplar of a pedestrian-friendly city. But the many sensible walking-related policies of the City of Edinburgh Council too often don’t translate in practice into a safe and attractive walking environment on the streets. Motor traffic continues to dominate the vast majority of the city’s streets – yet there are clear economic, environmental and social benefits in prioritising pedestrian movement within a high-quality public realm.

Despite the many barriers to walking, 35% of journeys by Edinburgh residents are still made on foot, and the Living Streets Edinburgh Group is engaging strongly with the Council, pressing for the pedestrian environment to enjoy the kind of prioritisation given to cycling expenditure – now due to rise to 10% of the Council’s transport budget.

Our overall aim is to:
Promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh.

To this end, we want to see:

  • walking given the top priority over other forms of travel in all council transport and planning policies;
  • a reduction in the volume of motorised traffic and its impact on people using the street;
  • better designed and maintained pavements, road crossings and other pedestrian facilities;
  • more effective and joined-up monitoring and inspection of the walking environment by CEC;
  • planning policy which encourages dense, sustainable housing over car-dominated development;
  • more effective implementation of pro-walking policies ‘on the ground’.

Our priorities for action are to:

  • campaign for increased budgets (capital and staffing) for the pedestrian environment by CEC;
  • influence the annual CEC capital maintenance programme, to maximise the benefits for walkers;
  • support the 20 mph initiative, effectively enforced;
  • campaign for a fundamental review of CEC’s policy on ‘A-boards’ and other street clutter;
  • support the development of pedestrian-friendly cycle infrastructure;
  • support location-specific campaigns including George Street, Holyrood Park and the Cowgate;
  • grow the number of our supporters and campaigners.

LSE SUPPORT FOR NEWBATTLE TERRACE PUBLIC REALM SCHEME

Living Streets Edinburgh Group very much welcomes this scheme, which will secure a big improvement in the quality of the public realm – with particular benefits for the safety and convenience of walking, in line with the latter’s place at the top of the Scottish Government’s ‘Sustainable Travel Hierarchy’.

We are surprised that footway widths are not specified, although we understand that in the new design ‘the north footway [of Newbattle Terrace] varies from 2.25 to 3.5m, with a couple of pinch points of around 2m’ and ‘the south footway is 3.0 – 3.1m, with a pinch point of 2.9m.’ This is reasonably in line with the Council’s ‘Street Design Guidance’ (SDG) which stipulates that the footway width should be an ‘absolute minimum’ width of 2m, ‘only allowed in short sections’.

The footprint of the scheme has been extended northwards up Pitsligo Road as far as the junction with Woodcroft Road, in order to accommodate a new contraflow cycle lane. The latter is welcome in itself, but should be matched by a widening of the parallel footways on this section (currently only 1.5-1.55m wide) in order to satisfy the ‘absolute minimum’ of 2m laid down in the SDG. The Convenor of the Council’s Transport & Environment Committee emphasised at the recent launch of the ‘Cut the Pavement Clutter’ project that the SDG ‘must be applied’ to all schemes, and noted the Council’s ‘wall to wall’ approach, ie not just upgrading the road carriageway, but also enhancing the parallel footways.

The creation of a continuous footway along the north side of Newbattle Terrace at the Pitsligo Road junction is very welcome, but pedestrian passage over the continuous footway should be protected by (i) road markings warning southbound (downhill) cyclists to give way to pedestrians, and (ii) tactiles at the edge of the former footway lines (to indicate to people with visual disabilities that vehicles and cycles cross this area – vehicles northbound only, and cyclists in both directions).

We suggest that any vehicle flow displacement on to Clinton Road should be monitored, and, if necessary, further action should be taken to deal with any problems caused by displaced traffic.

 

Cut the Pavement Clutter!

In 2019, we launched a project about the problems caused by pavement clutter – and what we can do about it [ https://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2019/10/18/tackling-street-clutter-through-locality-working/ ]. We’re now delighted to launch a new video and report about the project. “Cut the Pavement Clutter” looks at a number of questions:

  • what is pavement clutter?
  • why does it matter? and (most importantly)
  • what can we do about it?

We hope that these resources will be used as widely as possible to raise awareness of the problems which cluttered pavements cause, and to raise the bar in making streets better for everyday walking.  Anyone is welcome to use them freely – for example in presentations, conferences, seminars or staff training events.

Of course, we need more fundamental transformation of many of our streets too, but most streets in Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK would be better places almost overnight, if we could ‘cut the clutter’.

 

The video can be found on our YouTube channel here – https://youtu.be/_owjs7clKfk

The full Cut the Clutter report can be found here (PDF, 5.5mb) – Living-Streets-Edinburgh-Cut-The-Clutter

You can watch the launch event here: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/cuttheclutter . There are contributions by Mary Creacgh, Chief Executive of Living Streets, Cllr Lesley Macinness, Convenor of Transport and Environment Committee, City of Edinburgh Council, and Tom Rye, Professor of Transport Policy, University of Molde, Norway. The event includes a wider discussion of how to design streets fit for everyday walking and was chaired by our Convenor, David Hunter, whose blog can also be found at this link.

Thanks to Paths for All for funding from the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund, and to Living Streets Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council for their support for the project.

Pedestrian crossing report

In autumn 2020, we carried out some surveys of pedestrian crossings in Edinburgh to see how long people walking had to wait for a ‘green man’ signal, and how long they had to cross the road when the ‘green man’ was on.  We found that, at many busy junctions, people have to wait far too long to cross the road safely and often have only seconds to get to the other side.

We have sent this report to the Council and asked them to introduce more pedestrian priority at signalled junctions as a matter of urgency under the Spaces for People scheme to aid social distancing, and also make longer-term changes to give more priority to pedestrians, rather than motor vehicles.

 LSEG pedestrian crossing survey (PDF 155kb)

 

 

 

Spaces for People – Pedestrian Improvements, Tollcross – Morningside

Living Streets Edinburgh volunteers carried out an audit in late October 2020 on the ‘Spaces for People’ schemes from Tollcross to Morningside Station. These aim to improve conditions for pedestrians on ‘shopping streets’. The report concludes that there are significant improvements for people walking as a result of the scheme and also makes many detailed suggestions on how it could be improved further, which have been sent to council officers. You can read the full report here:  (PDF 9mb)

https://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/Living-Streets-audit-Tollcross-Morningside-Station-SfP-corridor.pdf

We have also sent the report to councillors and asked them to widen pavements on other busy streets. We also want to see much more done to reduce the time people have to wait to cross the road at pedestrian crossings, and to remove pavement clutter. We estimate that less than 30% of the £5 million budget has been allocated to these kind of ‘walking measures’ (compared to over 70% for cycling) and we want to see much more emphasis in ‘Spaces for People’ put on encouraging walking and social distancing.

Some good examples

Some omissions