Monthly Archives: November 2022

Edinburgh Accessible Streets Initiative (EASI): Proposal from Living Streets Edinburgh Group

Council officials have estimated that there are 17,000 inadequate or missing dropped kerbs in the capital. This makes pedestrian movement for many people difficult or impossible and is at odds with the ‘Equal Pavements Pledge’ signed by the Council in 2021 https://www.transportforall.org.uk/campaign/equal-pavements-pledge/. Step-free pedestrian surfaces have a crucial role in not only making a city inclusive for disabled people, but one which makes walking and wheeling easier and more attractive for everyone else too.

The ‘dropped kerb programme’ has been designated as a ‘high priority’ action in council plans since at least 2010, when the first Active Travel Action Plan was produced. However it is only in the last year that systematic progress has been realised on the ground, and it currently has the capacity to deliver no more than 20 – 30 new dropped kerbs each year. (It is recognised that in addition, an increasing number of missing dropped kerbs are also being installed through routine maintenance and major capital schemes.)

However, Council action to improve pavement accessibility is not at present of sufficient scale to make the improvements needed, faced with the city’s historic legacy of inaccessible footways. The recent experience of installing dropped kerbs has also highlighted the need in many places to not only ‘drop’ the kerb at side roads, yards, vennels and such like but to make other improvements. In many cases, especially where the side road carries little traffic, a continuous footway is a better solution than a dropped kerb and these have begun to be installed in Edinburgh (for example Lauriston Place). Many side road junctions would benefit not only from step-free kerbs, but also ‘tightening’ the splay, to reduce the distance which pedestrians have to cross, and to slow down turning traffic. This also helps other high priority road users such as cyclists.

The current programme budgets are not sufficient to fund interventions like continuous footways and improvements to junction geometry at scale. It is therefore proposed to develop a much more ambitious programme to elevate the current ‘dropped kerb programme’ efforts to a major initiative to improve pedestrian accessibility. The Mobility and Access Committee Scotland (MACS) has advocated such initiatives through its guidance ‘Small Changes Can make a Big Difference’ bit.ly/3zrT4AG.

The new programme could set a number of strategic goals, along the lines of to ensure that…

• within x years, all Retail High Streets and High Density Residential Streets (as defined in ESDG) are step-free;
• within y years, all (major) bus routes are step-free;
• designated ‘town centres’ will be step-free as part of 20 minute neighbourhoods.

The programme would need to operate at multiple levels, co-ordinating activity from different sections of the Council. It would include ensuring step free pedestrian space is included as part of major projects (like CCWEL), but also that small scale (and cheaper) improvements continue to be delivered as part of capital maintenance programmes and on demand, in addition to the more strategic goals such as those suggested above. Ensuring that developers pay for improvements where appropriate would be another important element, which would require significant change from the Planning department.

Monitoring will be another important aspect of the programme, so that accurate information is maintained on how many kerbs have been improved, and what still needs to be done. Comprehensive online maps should show step-free pedestrian routes. The programme could also be further extended to engage with the public for example through joining ’Project Sidewalk’ which enables citizens to comment on and evaluate accessibility through direct lived experience (see for example, Amsterdam: https://sidewalk-amsterdam.cs.washington.edu/ )

Implementation on a programme like EASI will almost certainly require external funding – for example from Sustrans, or directly from the Scottish Government either through direct Active Travel grants or associated with the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2). With a sufficiently high budget and scope, this programme could not only make a tangible impact on improving the experience for disabled – and indeed all – pedestrians in Edinburgh, but also act as an exemplar to raise the bar in our expectations for walking and wheeling across Scotland.

David Hunter
Living Streets Edinburgh Group

November 2022

LSEG comments on proposed development Yeaman Place, November 2022

The Edinburgh chapter recently made representation to the CEC planning department in respect to comments on the planning application for new student housing at Yeaman Place and in proximity to the Union canal.

The representation was supportive of the development in principle, given the net benefit to pedestrian access in the area, as well as increasing personal security for vulnerable users of the canal towpath. We would however, like to see this access being formalised and that waymarking signage should be applied given that the access might not be obvious or intuitive.

The application could improve and crucially, the developers have indicated that they cannot provide direct ramped access between Yeaman Place and the canal. The access will only be stepped, which will be a significant disadvantage to those with additional mobility needs. In our representation, we asked that the CEC planners interrogate the engineering constraints outlined by the developers as to why they could not provide ramped access.

Finally, our representation also acknowledged that the development does not provide parking provision, which is welcomed so that it does not “bake in” car-dependency, but we have asked that the CEC planners be considerate of the impact that drop-off/pick-up could have on the pavement and cycle lane on Dundee Street.

If there’s a planning matter which you’d like to bring to our attention in your local area, then why not touch base with us to see how we can help you. Please contact planning@livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk.

Living Streets Edinburgh Group – Public Meeting

Living Streets Edinburgh Group
Public Meeting – 6.30pm, Monday, 14 November 2022
Friends Meeting House, Victoria Terrace

AGENDA

  • Introductions / apologies
  • Minutes of last AGM, 26 May 2021.
  • Convenor’s report.
  • Treasurer’s report.
  • Agreement of lead roles including Convener and Treasurer
  • Guest speaker: Professor Scott Arthur, Convener of Transport and Environment Committee, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Questions and Answers
  • Discussion: our priorities, campaigns, getting involved.
  • AOB.

Finish: 8.00pm

Tollcross Primary School – Travel Survey 2022

Tollcross Early Years Campus is a combined nursery/primary-level educational setting – comprising Tollcross Primary School  (est. 1912), Tollcross Nursery and Lochrin Nursery School – with an approximate combined attendance of 300 students. 

Within this most recent travel survey, the families of Tollcross Early Years Campus sought to reflect on our school run and highlight solutions which place safe, convenient and active travel at the centre of the school run.

Our data highlights that the majority of respondents – 73% – walk to school over a distance of less than 2 miles. However, many respondents reported that shortcomings in the quality of infrastructure made active travel unpleasant at best or impossible at worst. Looking toward solutions, respondents indicated that widening pavements and improving cleanliness (e.g. emptying over-flowing bins) would make them more likely to choose active travel modes to get to school. More ambitiously, overhauling the design of Tollcross Junction to prioritise pedestrian throughput would bring positive, sustainable and long-lasting improvements to the lives of many of our families and to the safety of our children.

The full report can be read here – 2.2mb PDF