All posts by Living Streets Edinburgh

21/02941/PPP Gogar Link Road/Active Travel Route

Comments offering observations and suggestions.

The supporting planning statement indicates that the proposal “will also serve to improve active travel links within the wider area.” Within the boundary of the scheme, this does not appear to be the case. The link will however improve active travel links to HSG19 and HSG 20. The most direct active travel routes for the existing communities East of Maybury road will continue to be via Maybury junction on Glasgow Road which is dangerous and exposed to air pollution.

Living Streets ask the Council if there is an opportunity to work with the West Craigs developers to see if there is scope or feasibility for junction and crossing improvements of active travel links South and East of Edinburgh Gateway station.

There is also a concern that the proposals will encourage motorised users to use the link as an opportunity to avoid busier junctions such as the various other road approaches onto Gogar Roundabout.

We also ask if there is an opportunity to re-design the route layout to ensure a more direct route to the rail crossing to HSG19 and HSG20 and Myreton Drive. The current design indicates that the route is made unnecessarily longer for those wishing to walk or cycle to IBG.

We support the proposal’s inclusion of segregating cyclist and pedestrian users

LSE Response to Corstorphine Connections Consultation

While supportive of low traffic neighbourhoods in principle, we are disappointed that CEC has not taken on board many of the suggestions from our first consultation response submitted earlier in the year.

Living Streets Edinburgh has walkability criteria that we have assessed against south Corstorphine and feel that there is still ample opportunity for “quick wins” to help improve the pedestrian environment at low cost. This includes:

  • Adding double yellow lines to deter drivers from parking over dropped kerbs and obscuring sightlines for people walking
  • Addressing problem areas for pavement parking
  • Improving junctions and crossing points for pedestrians on key thoroughfares, such as Saughton Road North
  • The removal of barriers along traffic-free routes
  • The removal of pavement clutter and furniture along key pedestrian routes
  • The tightening of junction radii along key pedestrian routes

We provided a list of hot spots regarding these points in our first consultation response, and are disappointed we have not seen these quick wins and low-cost solutions implemented as part of the scheme designs. Is there scope to include any of our original suggestions for improvement?

We note that other suggestions to improve the pedestrian environment have not been addressed as part of the Corstorphine Connections designs. We are keen to see more applications of wider permanent pavements, resurfaced pavements and new signalised crossings across the area to ensure walking is an attractive and safe option for residents and visitors.

With respect to the designs as presented, we have split this into its constituent parts in order to comment. The vast majority of interventions proposed focus on a small section of the proposed LTN – is there a reason further pedestrian improvements are not being consulted on across the wider LTN area? Walking is at the top of the sustainable transport hierarchy and CEC has stated on multiple occasions that it is number one priority for transport policy – with this context in hand, it is disappointing that potential interventions are limited and we can’t comment on a more ambitious scheme with additional residential streets filtered to remove intrusive traffic, improve the pedestrian experience and increase local walking journeys.

Modal Filtering Featherhall/Manse Road

We are supportive of modal filters to help improve the pedestrian environment on the streets identified in the scheme designs. The removal of intrusive traffic on these residential streets will help to make the pedestrian environment safer and more accessible. We would like to see pavement widening and improvements along Manse Road in particular, as it is incredibly narrow and an important route to the local primary school for families.

Corstorphine and Carrick Knowe Primary School Streets

We are supportive of the school streets proposed, to help families walk, wheel and cycle to school.

The filters could do with being more attractive; at the moment they look like road works and it would be good to make the filters feel more welcoming to pedestrians.

Corstorphine High Street Option A/Option B

The better option for pedestrians is option B – the bus gate. The widened pavements and removal of through traffic would significantly improve this street for people on foot. There is the potential for drivers to use adjacent residential streets like Castle Avenue and Dovecot Road to avoid the bus gate, which would need to be addressed.

Placemaking

Placemaking interventions should include seating where appropriate for pedestrians who need to pause and rest. Any placemaking interventions need to avoid adding clutter to existing pavements, provide clear sightlines for pedestrians at junctions and give sufficient grip to the road/pavement surface (ie paint/decoration).

Kirk Loan

It’s surprising to see no attempt to tackle the persistent pavement parking problems at the north end of Kirk Loan. This is an important pedestrian route but has narrow pavements and is blighted by drivers blocking the pavement with their vehicles. The south junction tightening is welcomed – dropped kerbs should be provided here to help people with mobility aids to cross the road safely.

Saughton Road North Traffic Calming

This street is generally quite hostile for pedestrians. Traffic calming measures are welcomed in principle, but without details it is difficult to comment. It would be very helpful to see improved crossing options for pedestrians at the north end of Saughton Road North, between Dovecot Road and Kirk Loan.

A Wrong Step at East Craigs

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.

John Kennedy

Objection to Planning ref 21/02434/FUL – Pipe Lane

Living Streets is the UK Charity for Everyday Walking. Living Streets Edinburgh Group aims to promote walking as the safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh.

These comments on this application are from Living Streets Edinburgh Group.
https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/get-involved/local-groups/edinburgh

Scottish Planning Policy clearly sets out the hierarchy for transport modes (para 273) – walking, cycling, public transport and finally private cars in that order. It goes on to say that planning permission should not be granted for significant travel-generating uses (para 287) at locations which would increase reliance on the car, where walking and cycling networks are not available, and where public transport to local facilities involves walking more than 400m. Designing Streets: A Policy Statement for Scotland reinforces this policy and clearly states (pg15) that the street user hierarchy should consider pedestrians first and private motor vehicles last. The National Transport Strategy states (pg5) that walking, cycling and shared transport take precedence ahead of private car use. It goes on to illustrate this position with reference to The Sustainable Travel Hierarchy (Fig14 pg43) – walking and wheeling, cycling, public transport, taxis & shared transport, private car. So, the Scottish Government position is quite clear that people walking and wheeling are the priority, with the expectation that this is delivered by developers and local authorities via their planning and highways functions.

The City of Edinburgh Council Local Development Plan 2016 does not articulate or follow this national policy as it should, but there are references within it to providing for walking and cycling, new road space not encouraging greater car use, bringing accessibility by and use of non-car modes up to acceptable levels, opportunities for ‘car free’ housing developments e.g Policy Des 7, Policy Tra 1, Policy Tra 2. The Council has adopted Street Design Guidance which has much useful content and is stated as embracing Scottish Government’s Designing Streets document, but it is not always adhered to in practice.

The recent consultation on CityPlan 2030 has highlighted a wide preference for development of brownfield sites, greater provision for walking and cycling, reduced use of private cars and less car parking provision. The Council is currently proceeding to draft the next Local Development Plan on this basis and in 2020 stated that ‘pedestrians are at the top of the urban transport hierarchy.’

The COVID-19 pandemic, although a dreadful event, has provided an opportunity for people to take stock and consider what is important to them. There have already been changes to the way we all live and work, and the likelihood is that much of this, as reflected in the CityPlan 2030 consultation, will be here to stay.

Scottish Government Policy has clearly articulated walking as a priority for several years, whist developers and the Council have at best paid it lip service and often ignored it completely. Now that emerging Council planning policy and public expectations are becoming aligned with national policy it is vital that the opportunity is taken to reset the clock and reflect this in all planning decisions.

Having set out the context for consideration of this application, and without commenting on other non-walking aspects, Living Streets Edinburgh Group makes the following constructive comments:

  • The location of the site in Portobello is extremely accessible by walking, cycling and public transport.
  • The site adjoins the seafront and is accessed by a network of narrow streets already congested with parked vehicles.
  • The additional vehicle movements will compound an existing unsatisfactory situation when there is no need to do so.
  • The site therefore justifies a car free development which is permitted by Council policy and it is requested that approval is only granted if the parking spaces are removed, other than for disabled parking, and this will in turn give scope for more landscaping and amenity space.
  • The Council now acknowledges that pedestrians are at the top of the urban transport hierarchy, so to accord with Council expectations the proposals must reflect this position.

Making Spaces for People permanent? Response by LSEG

Note by Living Streets Edinburgh and Spokes Lothian, March 2021 to Transport Scotland, requesting funding to make successful Spaces for People schemes permanent through the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 – http://www.spokes.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2103-STPR2-letter-from-Spokes-and-Living-Streets.pdf 

Introduction

  1. Living Streets Edinburgh Group supports the principle of ‘Spaces for People’ schemes continuing in the future. Better facilities to encourage walking, wheeling and cycling are essential in order to achieve the objectives in the City Mobility Plan and to contribute to making Edinburgh the great walkable city that it should be.
  2. We have been disappointed that more priority was not given to promoting walking, especially in the first months of the programme, not only in view of the agreed ‘sustainable travel hierarchy’ but also given that the emergency measures were passed in order to ensure public health and promote physical distancing. Nevertheless, we recognise that many of the measures have been helpful for people to walk and cycle, and we appreciate the very significant efforts of staff and councillors to introduce these extensive measures during the pandemic.

Process

  1. Before commenting on the retention of particular schemes, or types of schemes, we want to make some general observations about ‘process’. Firstly, many schemes need very detailed consideration – for example on whether particular loading bays are in the right place? – before they can be made permanent. The current consultation exercise isn’t adequate to enable this detailed assessment to take place. There needs to be further opportunities for stakeholders (and especially local communities) to consider retention, alteration or removal.
  2. We would also like to see data published on the use of temporary measures (both walking and cycling). We note from the report to Transport and Environment Committee in August 2020 that £256,000 was budgeted for surveys and monitoring. While we agree that we should look to the future and accept that some schemes may be more used in the years ahead than they have been during the pandemic, evidence on the actual use of measures should help inform decision-making on retention or removal. This will also be important for local communities to understand and accept the decision making process. It also important to acknowledge that some schemes which benefit one type of road user may have negative effects on other road users, so the benefits and negative impacts therefore need to be assessed as transparently and objectively as possible. We must also accept that there is a significant degree of uncertainty over to what extent travel patterns will, or won’t, return to pre-pandemic patterns.
  3. We would have preferred for the City Mobility Plan to include targets for modal share, which would have provided a strategic context for the relative importance attached to investments to support different modes – especially walking/wheeling, cycling and bus. If the CMP had aimed to increase cycling rates threefold for example, then there would be a much stronger case for investing in cycling infrastructure. If the aim is to encourage walking or bus, then measures to support walking or bus should get more priority, etc. But because targets haven’t been set, there is no strategic rationale for making the SfP decisions.

Retention, Removal or Adaptation?

  1. Many measures introduced under Spaces for People can and should be retained and made permanent. In many cases, this can be done at relatively little cost: in particular, cycle lanes, road closures and school measures. We cannot comment on each of the dozens of measures which have been introduced, but we support a presumption in favour of keeping them.
  2. For LSEG, the most important benefit which SfP has brought is the ‘footway widening’ in town centres. Generally, these have brought significant benefits to pedestrians, especially to enable ‘physical distancing’. They have also proven beyond doubt that there is insufficient pedestrian space in many town centres, perhaps noting Morningside, Corstorphine and Stockbridge as particular examples. Wider pavements have not caused traffic to grind to a halt as some predicted.
  3. These wider pavements must therefore generally be retained; there may be some exceptions (eg the eastern side of Earl Grey Street?) where the current pavement is sufficient, and taking more carriageway space for walking is not a priority. However, the temporary measures understandably introduced at short notice are not of sufficient quality for the longer term; they are too ‘stop/start’, they are inaccessible to many disabled people, in places ambiguous (so that for example cyclists use them) and introduce trip hazards.
  4. Once the pandemic is over, ‘proper’ wider pavements are therefore needed, with level surfaces, proper kerbs and the necessary changes to drainage. We appreciate that this will be expensive and we have written to the Scottish Government (jointly with Spokes Lothian) asking that funding is provided to enable councils to make successful Spaces for People schemes permanent as a priority for investment through the STPR2 . Our particular concern is the significant cost of converting temporary footways into permanent quality spaces.
  5. We are pleased that the amount of time which pedestrians have to cross the road at crossings is finally being investigated, with £100,000 approved in January for this purpose. We want to see shorter wait times for people to cross the road at signalled junctions and pedestrian crossings, and we want to see longer ‘green man times’ across the city. There needs to be a permanent change to give pedestrians priority, in line with the modal hierarchy agreed in the City Mobility Plan. The automatic pedestrian phases (that remove the need to press the button) will no longer be needed following the pandemic.
  6. The need to remove unnecessary pavement clutter is only now being addressed at scale within the SfP scheme; we assume (and hope) that changes to clear obstructions from pavements will be made permanent.
  7. As noted earlier, we strongly support measures at schools to encourage children to walk, cycle, scoot, etc. to school. According to the latest (2019) Transport and Travel in Scotland statistics, 61% of Edinburgh’s schoolchildren currently walk to school – a fantastic platform of active travel which needs to be protected, prioritised and built on. We would encourage more – and more ambitious – permanent measures to remove traffic in the vicinity of school gates, to widen pavements, ban dangerous turning manoeuvres, make crossings safer, etc.
  8. The limited closure of some city centre streets to motor traffic (eg Cockburn Street) is generally welcomed, especially where they contribute to the vision of the City Centre Transformation. We therefore support making all these closures permanent, with proper management and enforcement. They should use quality materials and street furniture, instead of temporary and ugly barriers, signs on yellow 1,000kg blocks, etc.
  9. We also strongly support the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in principle, to reduce the dominance of motor traffic in residential areas. However, there needs to be a sufficient degree of public support for them to operate effectively in local communities, and we need to understand the impacts of any displaced traffic on adjacent streets and neighbourhoods. We are pleased to have representation in the three areas currently being considered as an LTN (East Craigs, South Corstorphine and Leith). Similarly, where there is local support, significant benefits for cycling or walking and no unacceptable other impacts, we would support the closure to motor traffic of suburban/residential roads (such as Silverknowes Road, Braid Road etc).
  10. We support the retention and enhancement of segregated cycle ways where they have demonstrated success, or potential for success. Success measures should include how safe they are (for cyclists as well as other road users), how well they are used, the impact on other road users (especially buses and disabled motorists and passengers), and the contribution they make to a joined-up strategic cycle network. There are some places (perhaps Ferry Road and the Mound are examples), where the pavement adjacent to the cycle lanes is too narrow and should be made wider. If making a cycle way permanent reduced the likelihood of addressing inadequate pavements, then this would be a concern to us.
  11. We are unhappy with some impacts of SfP measures on bus services and do not support their retention as currently implemented. For example, on George IV Bridge, while we support the continuation of the wider footways and cycleways in principle, the removal of busy bus stops (eg southbound near Chambers Street) and shelters, and the dysfunctional bus boarders are all regrettable. We also oppose the loss of important bus lanes, eg northbound on Bruntsfield Place and Leven Street, where the space has been used for new walking / cycling lanes despite most of the footway already being of reasonable width. Assuming that Edinburgh streets once again become busy with locals and visitors, bus services will resume their central role in keeping the city moving.

Summary

  1. In summary:

• We support the principle of retaining Spaces for people schemes and reducing the dominance of motor traffic on city streets (both when moving and when parked).

• We especially want to see:

  • permanent, ‘proper’ wider pavements on busy streets (especially ‘town centres’)
  • traffic signals and pedestrian crossings changed to give pedestrians more priority
  • streets at schools improved to encourage active travel and especially walking
  • city centre traffic management schemes retained and enforced.

• We generally support retention of:

  • cycle lanes
  • residential street closures
  • Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

(subject to understanding local community views, any negative impacts on other road users/areas and the extent of their use/potential use).

• We don’t support:

  • measures which adversely affect bus passengers, unless there are compelling reasons why these are necessary to achieve other important objectives
  • making ‘automatic phases’ on pedestrian crossings permanent.

15.3.21