Reflections on the Low Traffic Neighbourhood from an East Craigs resident
You always have a sense of unease when walking or cycling around Edinburgh West. Residents here are very aware of the proximity of strategic road transport networks in all directions, commercial districts popping up and huge developmental pressure on the green belt.
On the arterial routes that encase the East Craigs community, you feel one wrong step, a mis-timed mirror check or mis-placed pedal could, at any point, lead immediately to fatal collision. Everyone in the area has a story regarding their own near miss. For parents of young children, the sense of dread is amplified.
So is it any wonder that, as a resident, I should speak in favour of any traffic-calming or traffic-reducing proposals that protect residents from the development pressures in every direction? While such proposals were once firmly placed on the table by the Council, now, following a legislative back and forth on statutory consultation, we are back to square one, with nothing to show. There is currently no available option to move away from the status quo of increasing the neighbourhood’s exposure to congestion and the risk of pedestrian fatality. All plans have been dropped.
How we arrived at this point is explained by the fact that such measures were not initially proposals at all, but concrete plans brought forward by the Council under emergency legislation. The council mis-read the signs of what was being vocalised by the community, on what was deemed to be insufficient consultation. This was likely the spark that lit the powder keg of objections, led by voicesacross social media who would rather see nothing happen at all.
Make no mistake, that there will be a place in society for car transport for years to come, and we at Living Streets Edinburgh and many advocates of active travel, recognise fully the importance of car transport for those with specific mobility issues. However, what must be considered is that our community is part of a wider city and in the regional crossroads of a country recovering from a pandemic and subject to significant developmental pressures. Having a choice of transport options available to get around is therefore essential, not least for those in the area that can’t afford to buy and run a car.
Inaction is not an option. To achieve the national and local objectives of mitigating climate change, local air pollution, congestion and adverse health consequences of our collective transport choices, meanwhile fostering community, we have to see some degree of intervention from our local authorities. Interventions that prioritise pedestrians and active travel is essentially a ‘buy one, get five free’.
The common ground is that we all seek solutions to our local transport problems, so we have to have faith in any sort of process that challenges the status quo. Living Streets Edinburgh looks forward to the continued progress of the West Edinburgh Link, permanency of the SfP measures introduced thus far, and future proposals within East Craigs that encourage a modal shift to active travel and links with public transport. Placemaking and improvement should be at the heart of these proposals to encourage less everyday car use. Linking the community to other parts of the area is also sought, and the Council should consider safer and direct pedestrian crossings across all the busy arterial routes for more everyday access to the amenity in the wider area.