Motion to Council 9.4
We want to record our support for your motion 9.4 to Council on Tuesday. Firstly, we are pleased to see the reminder that ‘walking and wheeling’ are top of the transport hierarchy (1) – far too often this is given lip service in policy, but ignored in practice.
Pavement obstructions also represent a significant problem which deserves highlighting particularly when social distancing is a prime objective. We are currently finalising a report on pavement clutter which we will be pleased to share with the council shortly.
With regard to ‘floating bus stops’, we have long had concerns at the risk of conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, as bus passengers have to cross a cycle path in order to board or alight from a bus (2). Even more concerning is the recent introduction in number of ‘Spaces for People’ proposals of the apparently new (to Edinburgh at least) concept of a ‘bus boarder’ where passengers step off the bus directly onto a cycle way (eg Pennywell Road, Causewayside). Unexpectedly encountering a cyclist at this type of bus stop could endanger or intimidate many bus passengers – who are invariably also pedestrians – especially if they are Deaf, blind or unsteady on their feet. We assume that the motion covers these ‘boarders’ as well as ‘floating’ bus stops.
We recognise the benefits that these bus stop designs bring to cyclists, and that many cycling advocates will disagree with our stance. However as an organisation championing ‘everyday walking’ we have to balance the benefits to cyclists against the risks posed to pedestrians, especially those more vulnerable.
Now is not the time for a major, rushed roll-out of untested cycle infrastructure in Edinburgh which introduces those risks. We know that many disability groups share our concerns, including Edinburgh Access Panel, RNIB, and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Suspension of the current proposals will permit consultation, particularly with disability groups, and also allow proper consideration of reports evaluating the Leith Walk floating bus stops which we understand were produced some two years ago but which we have only recently received.
We also want to make it very clear that Living Streets Edinburgh supports measures to make cycling easier and safer, provided these don’t add unacceptable risks to pedestrians, especially the most vulnerable people. There is also huge common ground in the interests of walking and cycling in our shared goal of seeing lower volumes of traffic, lower speeds and better enforcement of traffic regulations. We also support the overall aims of the Spaces for People initiative.
We therefore hope that your motion will achieve the widest possible support across all parties.
1) National Transport Strategy; page 43