Picardy Place is a crucial part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is already traffic dominated and will become worse if proposals for a three-lane gyratory go ahead. If the City of Edinburgh Council does not apply its own policies – prioritising walking and cycling – to its big projects, it clearly sends out the wrong signal on transport priorities.
A gyratory traffic system (major roundabout) is totally inappropriate in a modern city centre, due to the impact of multiple traffic lanes. This type of infrastructure is being ripped up in London to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Building one in Edinburgh would be a backward step for the city because:
- The design is outdated and has not been subject to modern standards of consultation which focus on ‘place making’ in the public realm.
- It does not comply with Scottish Government or the Council’s own policies, especially in terms of prioritising ‘movement over place’ and a sustainable transport hierarchy.
- Footways are not wide enough – failing to meet the Council’s own Street design Guidance in places.
- There will be a loss of important areas of public realm / cultural / green space.
- There are potential conflict points between pedestrians and cyclists in a busy part of the city.
- It fails to provide a proper bus interchange with the tram stop which is easy to walk to and encourages people to arrive by public transport and not by car.
What needs to happen?
- The council need to take a place-based approach to this important area of the City, putting pedestrians at the heart of their transport policy. This means a T-Junction, not a roundabout.
- This approach should make it easier for people to cross roads using direct routes and desire lines, without diversions and multiple staged crossings.
- Pedestrians and cyclists need their own dedicated space to avoid frustration, conflict and safety concerns.
- Footways need to be wide enough, especially beside the Cathedral, and important areas of public space and art should be retained.
- Design in space and convenient crossings to a tram / bus interchange which is easily accessible for people with disabilities.
There is a significant opportunity here to create a great new public space, transport interchange and gateway to the city centre: by reviewing the current proposals and applying modern approaches to public consultation and place-based design. The Council must realise this opportunity by working with citizens and key stakeholders, including Living Streets Edinburgh, through a meaningful consultation process over the coming months.
Take action now
You can have your say by responding to the official Council consultation on https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/picardy-place
Update 22 November
Amended plans announced by the Council on 17 November involve some modest improvements, including more public space in front of the cathedral, but adding circuitous multi-stage pedestrian crossings, plus a range of potential walking / cycling conflicts. And the massive, 1960s-style, gyratory road system remains in place – this is just not good enough when the Council’s own plans envisage the car’s share of city transport dropping from 42% in 2010 to 29% in 2020.