Living Streets Edinburgh would like to see:
Recognition that walking is not simply one of several competing transport options, but is essential to almost every journey by public transport and to many car, train, tram, taxi or bicycle trips. Walking (also known as “footfall”) is fundamental to the city centre economy and creates a sense of community. It is the only universal way of moving about (‘walking’ includes people using mobility aids). It is healthy and pollution-free. Uniquely among travel modes, walking is as much (or more) about enjoying places as about movement.
Therefore, the promotion of walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh should be given the highest priority across transport modes and indeed in all other aspects of the City Centre Transformation initiative.
Specifically, we want to see action to:
- Reduce the volume, speed and dominance of motorised traffic;
- Constrain the number large vehicles (coaches, bin lorries, etc) in the city centre;
- Redress the chronic lack of high-quality urban space in Edinburgh by fully pedestrianising sections of key streets, especially George Street and the Royal Mile;
- Limit the availability of on-street parking to create sufficient space for walking, cycling and public transport;
- Deliver a strategic approach to identifying and improving key walking routes in and around the city centre based principally on levels of use;
- Tackle a chronic legacy of narrow pavements, street clutter and poor maintenance;
- Provide more frequent road crossings, improve crossing times and minimise wait times on key routes, which meet the needs of people of all abilities;
- Create an effective and joined-up monitoring, inspection and enforcement system for the walking environment;
- Implement planning policies which encourage housing density and sustainable local community facilities (schools, healthcare, libraries etc.);
- Put in place sustainable traffic plans for key sites on the city centre periphery which are particularly hostile to pedestrians (Tollcross, Haymarket, etc.).
16th August letter to Councillor Lesley Macinnes
Dear Councillor Macinnes
We are very pleased to see some real debates starting in earnest about a vision for Edinburgh where people (pedestrians!) take precedence over traffic and look forward to participating in these discussions over the coming months.
Meanwhile, there is one important matter to which we wanted to draw your attention, concerning the motion on tram safety which you put to full Council of 29 June last year. This essentially called for a “thorough infrastructure review…to improve pedestrian and cycling safety”. A consultation was carried out by the Council in response to your motion, but this dealt with cycling safety alone. Our response focussed on the need to respond to your motion by also considering pedestrian safety: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2018/04/10/edinburgh-tram-route-cycle-safety-consultation-comments-by-lse
We were then further disappointed to see walking safety considerations and improvements once more entirely ignored in the Council’s summary of the consultation responses, which again dealt solely with cycling safety: https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/tram-route-cycle-safety-improvements/
We subsequently raised these concerns directly with the Active Travel Team; however, we were unable to convince them that a wider remit for the project to include the safety and convenience of pedestrians was as necessary as that of cyclists. Discussion on the walking aspects of the project seem purely incidental. So far the sole focus has been on managing the potentially negative impacts for pedestrian movement as a result of cycling improvements, eg loss of footway space.
While we recognise how important it was to respond to the tragic death of the cyclist Zhi Min Soh, we don’t regard the overall Council response to your motion as acceptable. There are considerably more pedestrians injured on Princes Street and other roads than cyclists. We would therefore like to request two actions:
- Could you ask officials to revisit the review to highlight measures which address pedestrian safety and convenience along the tram route, as required by your motion to Council?
- Would you consider appointing a councillor as a ‘walking champion’ for the Council, in a similar role to the cycling champion? We feel that this might be a useful measure to ensure that pedestrian interests are given more attention than is often the case currently, where ‘active travel’ effort focuses principally on cycling, and does not give sufficient weight to walking.
Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group
The City of Edinburgh Council is paying ‘lip service’ to the importance of walking in its transport policies, while doing very little in practice to make Edinburgh more walking friendly, says the city’s pedestrian campaign group, Living Streets Edinburgh . The group says it is ‘shocked’ that out of 44 Active Travel projects being developed by the Council in 2017-18, only seven are for walking, compared to 37 for cycling . In a letter to the Transport spokespersons for each political group on the Council, Living Streets says:
‘We have also seen over recent months other evidence of the low priority given to walking in practice, despite the lip service often given to it by the Council. During the recent icy weather, a common sight all across the city was pedestrians walking in the road because un-gritted pavements were too dangerous to walk on. We also see dozens of cycle parking racks being installed on city pavements despite the Council’s commitment in its own business plan to reduce pavement clutter’
The Group’s Convenor, David Spaven, commented: Continue reading Council Transport Delivery ‘Seriously Imbalanced’ Against Pedestrians
The City Council decision to back the controversial Picardy Place gyratory roundabout will be a ‘continuing embarrassment’ to those Councillors who approved the plan, say local walking campaigners. Living Streets Edinburgh  criticised the decision of Transport & Environment Councillors from the Conservative, Labour and SNP groups for giving the green light to what the walking campaigners describe as ‘a 1960s’ solution to a 21st century problem’ Living Streets Edinburgh Convenor, David Spaven, commented:
‘Councillors – other than the visionary Greens – have backed a fundamentally flawed plan, which runs completely counter to the Council’s own transport policies. We now face the deplorable prospect that the Council’s design will make the Picardy Place and Leith Street even worse for pedestrians than it is at present. This will surely be a continuing embarrassment to these councillors, unless big changes are made to the detail of the design in the months ahead.
‘We will be pressing strongly for design improvements by Council officers to reduce the negative impact of more circuitous road crossings, narrower pavements and cycling /walking conflicts where new cycleways bisect pavements.’
NOTES FOR EDITORS
 Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local volunteer arm of the national charity campaigning for ‘everyday’ walking. See: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/END OF RELEASE