LOCAL VOLUNTEERS PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON POLWARTH STREETS

For our latest street audit, Living Streets activists focussed on the sprawling roundabout where Polwarth Gardens and Polwarth Crescent converge, and on the associated ‘rat run’ along Polwarth Crescent and Yeaman Place.

We identified a wide range of problems faced by pedestrians at a large number of locations (38) along a relatively short length of street corridor. The most frequent problem was narrow pavements which fail to meet the City Council’s own ‘Street Design Guidance’. Overall we found that the general dominance (speed, volume, noise etc) of motor traffic makes this a largely unpleasant place for pedestrians. The biggest concentration of pedestrian-unfriendly features are at and around the roundabout – and we advocate a major reduction in carriageway space here to make this a much more attractive place to live, shop, work, and linger.

We hope that our illustrated report (link) will stimulate discussion among local people and at Merchiston Community Council – and lead on to action by the City of Council to make pedestrian safety and convenience the top priority locally.

Living Streets Scotland – Miles Better – Waverley Station to Holyrood

Our colleagues at Living Streets Scotland were asked by the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Walking, Cycling and Buses to survey the pedestrian route from Waverley Station to the Scottish Parliament building, through the heart of the Old Town. 

You can read the findings here 

This highlights many problems for everyday walking and wheeling which need to be tackled as part of the ‘City Centre Transformation’.

We will work with LSS, the local community and other stakeholders to promote solutions which put people first.

Living Streets Edinburgh Response to Corstorphine Connections Consultation

The City of Edinburgh Council is in the early stages of presenting a plan called Corstorphine Connections to improve walking, wheeling and cycling in the south Corstorphine area. So far, there are no plans to comment on but we would like to submit some key areas for improvement with respect to walking and wheeling around the area. 

LSE has walkability criteria that we have accessed against south Corstorphine and would like the following to be addressed for the scheme delivery. 

The pedestrian conditions in this area are currently very poor on some important streets and the entire area is dominated by traffic, making pedestrian movement difficult and unpleasant. 

Walkability criteria

Convenient pedestrian crossing points

St John’s Road 

Pedestrian crossing points are generally poor. We have timed some key crossing points:

Crossing over SJR near Station road
Green man – 6 seconds 
Waiting time – 1 min 20 seconds
Crossing over Clermiston Road at SJR
Green man – 5 seconds 
Waiting time – 1 min 28 seconds

This means a pedestrian heading along St John’s Road and looking to cross the road will have a waiting time of 2 minutes 40 seconds to get over one junction with 11 seconds to cross 6 lanes of traffic.

Crossing at White lady on SJR

  • Green man – 5 secs 
  • Waiting time – 1min 30 seconds 

This crossing is frequently used by pedestrians yet has a very long wait and mere seconds to get over the road. 

Suggested Action: Improve pedestrian crossing times on St John’s Road.

Saughton Road North

This is a fast and busy road. At the moment there are only two pelican crossings along this entire residential stretch of the south Corstorphine area, with a third (slow) pelican crossing point at the junction with Broomhouse Road.

Suggested Action: Additional pelican crossing point on Sycamore Terrace as a minimum. Improve pelican crossing time at Broomhouse Road.

Corstorphine High Street/Ladywell Road

This is a fast and busy road. There is only one pelican crossing along this entire stretch, which has a range of community amenities including doctors’ surgery, nurseries, primary school, church, greenspace and community hall.

Suggested Action: Upgrade pedestrian refuge to pelican crossing on Ladywell Road.

Meadow Place Road

The crossing treatment for getting over the junction at Meadow Place Road/Ladywell Road is abysmal for pedestrians. If you are heading to Tesco on foot on the south side of Ladywell Road you have to wait to get across five pelican crossings. Any pedestrian looking to cross this junction to/from Ladywell Road has no less than three points to cross.

Suggested Action: Assess this junction for improved pedestrian movement and reduce waiting times.

Traffic-light crossing points along this road are not very frequent. This is a busy and fast road with two high schools and should have better provision. 

Suggested Action: Provide pelican crossing on south-side of the overpass.

Non-traffic light junctions

Junction treatments throughout the area makes crossing the road difficult for pedestrians. Junctions often have wide bellmouths, lots of traffic, narrow pavements, poor road surface and a lack of dropped kerbs. They also sometimes have poor sightlines. 

Problem junctions include:

Ladywell Avenue/Featherhall Avenue
Manse Road/High Street
Kirk Loan/Sycamore Terrace
Dovecot Road/Ladywell Avenue
Drum Brae roundabout
Dovecot Road/Meadowhouse Road
Castle Avenue/Tyler’s Acre Road
Meadowhouse Road/Lamp Acre Road
Ladywell Road/Meadow Place Road
Suggested Action: Tighten junction radii, provide continuous footway across residential junctions feeding onto High Street, Ladywell Road, Saughton Road North, St John’s Road.

Pavements

Pavements throughout the south Corstorphine area are less than minimum width as described by CEC’s Street Design Guidance. 

Some important pedestrian desire lines have incredibly narrow pavements. Problem streets include: 

Manse Road
Station Road
Sycamore Terrace
Corstorphine High Street
Ladywell Road
Ladywell Avenue
Featherhall Avenue
Sections of St Johns Road
Sections of Saughton Road North
Kirk Loan
Meadowhouse Road
Sections of Meadow Place Road

Generally, most residential streets in the whole south Corstorphine area are narrower than 2 metres as a bare minimum as per Street Design Guidance. 

Suggested Action: Widen pavements on key pedestrian thoroughfares and desire lines, especially around schools and retail.

Pavement clutter and barriers are common. Examples include:

  • Residential bins on St Johns Road
  • Much pavement clutter on St Johns Road, which we covered in our pedestrian clutter audit of the area and submitted to CEC
  • Guardrails at north end of Kirk Loan, the south ends of Meadow Place Road and Saughton Road North
  • Guardrails narrowing access points on toucan crossing on Meadow Place Road
  • Barriers on Quiet Route 9 at Ladiebridge, Traquair Alley and the Paddockholm.
  • Steps to access Traquair Alley from Corstorphine Road
  • Bollards at junction between Station Road and Meadowhouse Road
Suggested Action: Remove clutter, barriers and guardrails, replace wheelie bins with communal bins on St John’s Road

Pavement parking and parking across dropped kerbs is another common problem. Hotspots for this behaviour include: 

  • Pavement parking on Corstorphine High Street (so common you can see it on Google Streetview)
  • Pavement parking on north section of Kirk Loan, especially next to the retail units (so common you can see it on Google Streetview)
  • Parking over dropped kerb on Broomhall Avenue (so common you can see it on Google Streetview)
  • Pavement parking throughout much of Carrick Knowe.
Suggested Action: Provide double yellow lines over dropped kerbs to stop inconsiderate parking, widen pavements, if appropriate and not cluttering pavement provide bollarding to stop pavement parking

Quality of footway surface can be poor, due to lack of maintenance and pavement parking. Some examples of this include: 

  • South side of Meadowhouse Road from Saughton Road North junction.
  • Tree roots rendering the off-road path at Pinkhill difficult to negotiate for people who require mobility aids
  • Featherhall Avenue
  • Most of Carrick Knowe residential streets
Suggested Action: Improve footway surfaces

Other points of note

LSE Edinburgh members live in this area and are aware of the following “rat runs”, that make getting about as a pedestrian more difficult. We think it is important these cut throughs are addressed, as they increase traffic in the area and make residential streets less accessible for walking and wheeling. 

  • From Saughton Road North, cutting through Meadowhouse Road, Pinkhill to Corstorphine Road (and the opposite direction).
  • From Saughton Road North, cutting through Castle Avenue, Ladywell Avenue (south) to Meadow Place Road (and the opposite direction).
  • From Saughton Road North, cutting through Dovecot Road, Ladywell Avenue (south) to Meadow Place Road.
  • From Corstorphine High Street, cutting through Manse Road to St John’s Road. 
  • From Corstorphine High Street, cutting through Featherhall Avenue to St John’s Road (and the opposite direction)
  • From St John’s Road, cutting through Kirk Loan to Sycamore Terrace.
  • From Meadow Place Road, cutting through Featherhall Crescent South and Featherhall Avenue onto High Street.
  • From Saughton Road North, cutting through Corstorphine Park Gardens, Station Road onto St John’s Road (and the opposite direction).
  • From Saughton Road North, cutting through Meadowhouse Road, Station Road onto St John’s Road (and the opposite direction).

Some of these driver cut throughs are particularly problematic for families looking to walk to school. Featherhall Avenue, Ladywell Avenue, Kirk Loan and Manse Road are problem streets for families walking to Corstorphine Primary School. Meadowhouse Road is problematic for Carrick Knowe Primary School. 

Suggested Action: Introduce filtered permeability to keep rat-running drivers to main roads.

City Mobility Plan – comments by Living Streets Edinburgh Group, February 2021

Due for approval by the Transport and Environment Committee on 19 February 2021, this Plan will guide the Council’s transport plans and investment over the next decade to 2030. The fundamental message is the need to shift how we move about, by reducing traffic, and increasing options for walking, cycling and public transport. With Edinburgh still growing fast, this can only be the right path to follow. Present levels of traffic cannot be sustained and already have a severe negative impact on the city; for example in terms of congestion, on public health and safety and the quality of the environment in all senses. It is good to see a heightened level of ambition in investment in public transport, especially an extended tram network and in the city centre public realm, so we unambiguously give our support to the Council in adopting, and of course implementing, the Plan’s goals.

We have two main reservations – and these are significant ones.  Unlike the previous Local Transport Strategy, the CMP contains no targets for ‘modal share’. It seems extraordinary that there is no assessment of whether those previous targets were met, and if not, why? The intention is to provide targets in a future ‘Technical Note’. But modal share targets are fundamental to a transport strategy, not a technical detail. The interventions required to double the use of walking, cycling or public transport for example, will be very different to the interventions required to bring about a 10% increase. 

Secondly, we remain sceptical that the Council grasps the scale of the challenge in renewing the pedestrian environment so that it is fit for purpose by 2030. There are a number of welcome comments about the importance of walking – for example by confirming walking’s primacy at the ‘top of the travel hierarchy’ (p24) and noting that “Walking is by far the most common way of making local journeys (i.e. to the shops, post office, doctors) in the city” (p31). But all over Edinburgh, there are pavements barely a metre wide, frequently with poor surfaces and blocked by all kinds of obstructions; with wide junction splays at side roads often without dropped kerbs. Pedestrians are hemmed into cramped ‘town centre’ pavements, which are at the heart of local communities. Tackling this legacy from 50 or more years ago must be central to making Edinburgh the truly world-class walkable city that it could and should be – pavements are far more important for everyday walking and wheeling for most people than shared walk/cycle ‘active travel’ routes. 

The Plan’s main policy measure (#14) for ‘everyday walking’ is a timid “Enhance and where necessary expand the walking/wheeling networks to serve and connect key destinations across the city”. This completely fails to acknowledge the dire state of pavements across the city in residential areas, not only ‘key destinations’.  There appears to be nothing about transforming the pedestrian environment in the Implementation Plan, where the ambition appears to be no more than ‘to maintain paths and streets’ within current budgets. Instead, we’d like to see an additional commitment that by 2030, all city pavements (except any formally exempted for specific reasons) meet the Council’s own standards, as set out in the excellent Street Design Guidance.

Problem Junctions (February 2021)

Problem Junctions: response to City of Edinburgh Council request

Drum Brae roundabout, Maybury junction

These junctions are very hostile to pedestrians (and cyclists).

Gorgie / Dalry Road / Ardmillan Terrace / Henderson Terrace

4 Way junction with separate pedestrian crossings.  One arm on Murieston Street has no crossing and no safe period for pedestrians to cross.  The junction also has multiple banned vehicle turns, which are frequently ignored, and the traffic drives through pedestrian green phase.

Dundee  Street / Henderson Terrace / Angle Park Terrace / Western Approach Road

Very busy and fast junction, pedestrian crossing only on one arm (of 4).  Visibility on other arms is very poor when trying to cross.  No gap in sequence to cross any other arm.

Morningside Road with Church Hill Place

There is very little southbound traffic turning left from Morningside Road into Church Hill Place. This means that pedestrians on the eastern side of Morningside Road often wait a long time to cross Church Hill Place (leading to Church Hill Place)Drive, with no traffic passing. The recent SfP measures have shown that a single southbound lane suffices here on Morningside Road. A filter on the signals allowing northbound traffic to turn right (with southbound traffic on red) would increase the green man time for pedestrians on the east side of Morningside Road.

Morningside Road at Holy Corner

This junction has heavy footfall throughout the day. Wheelchair users, adults/carers with buggies and children, elderly and those with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. The volume/speed of traffic, pavement clutter, narrow pavement width  makes it impossible for pedestrians to pass safely in opposite directions, especially  when waiting for the pedestrian signal, and at places unsafe even to wait. Social distancing,  in particular at three sections, is impossible. This has been exacerbated by the continued blockage of the Right of Way at McLarens, regularly used by vulnerable road users in the past.

Argyle Place/Melville Drive

The junction would be improved by the closure of the slip road which appears to be used by very few vehicles. The complexity of slip road, cycle paths and a bus route have created an unnecessary hazard. If the bus route could be rerouted to Marchmont road – Melville drive junction, this would allow a much simpler and safer junction for pedestrians and cyclists. These modifications could form part of plan to create a neighbourhood area between Causewayside, Marchmont Road, Melville Drive and Grange Road with traffic calming by closed through roads improving access for vehicles, cycles and especially pedestrians.

Haymarket

The whole junction is very poor for pedestrians and our understanding of plans associated with the new Haymarket development is that this become even worse for pedestrians.

Gardners Crescent at Morrison Street

A pedestrian phase is essential at the southern side of Morrison Street to enable people to cross Gardners Crescent safely. A pedestrian phase is also needed at the eastern arm of the junction to cross Morrison Street. We assume that this will be introduced as part of the ‘Morrison St scheme’, which we would like to hear more about.

Tollcross

Similar to Haymarket, a very complex and hostile junction for walking. Generally throughout Tollcross traffic system – many junctions with 2-phase pedestrian crossings due to triangle type design. Consideration needs to be given to diverting or closing some of the roads leading to West Tollcross (Thornybauk, Lochrin Terrace).

Pedestrian crossings at Tollcross are confusing especially for the young, elderly and tourists. Also, vehicles get confused and carry out dangerous and unauthorised turnings across pedestrian routes. There are basically too many junctions at this point. The highways dept should be putting the welfare of pedestrians much higher up their list of priorities at this junction.

Lothian Road / Earl Gray Street / East Fountainbridge / Fountainbridge

No pedestrian crossing on Earl Gray Street. Takes 3 separate crossings to cross road.  We understand this will be rectified as part of the Fountainbridge/Lothian Road scheme.

Lothian Road at Kings Stables Road

There are no traffic lights or pedestrian crossing facilities at this junction. We would favour KSR being closed to vehicles entirely at this junction, with access restricted from the Grassmarket end.

Lothian Road at Western Approach Road

A three stage crossing is inappropriate given the volume of pedestrians.

Foot of the Walk/Great Junction Street/Duke Street

Insufficient walking time to cross; too long to wait. High number of older/disabled pedestrians.

South St David St at Princes Street

Very long wait time for pedestrians meaning very common ‘crossing on red’. (All crossings on Princes St need better pedestrian priority.)

Colinton Road/Myreside Road/Gray’s Loan/Merchiston Gardens

This is a very busy meeting point of five roads and seen as dangerous for pedestrians. Colinton Road being long and straight regularly sees a lot of drivers breaking the speed limit. The traffic lights at the junction are set to prioritise traffic, creating long waits for pedestrians wishing to cross. The crossing time allocated for pedestrians is not adequate for anyone, never mind the more vulnerable.

There are three schools near this junction: Craiglockhart Primary, Rudolph Steiner’s and George Watson’s College. When the schools are open, there are very large numbers of children and many drivers dropping off and picking up pupils at certain times of day. This adds to the problem but the situation is still bad when the schools are not open.

Greenhill Gardens / Strathearn Place

This is difficult area for pedestrians to cross, as is the Churchill / Pitsligo Rd section nearby.

Traffic comes along Chamberlain Rd at speed onto Greenhill Gardens, and continues at speed to turn left onto Strathearn Place, usually without slowing down or indeed indicating, or an awareness that pedestrians may be trying to cross.  There is a bus stop both here and across the road, and difficult to access for vulnerable road users.

Liberton Road/Kirk Brae/Mayfield Road

There are no pedestrian facilities at all (green man) at several roads on this signalled junction, despite a recent full renewal, including installation of advance cycle lights.

London Road at Elm Row

Very inconvenient two-stage crossing (off desire line). This will be improved through tram works.

Leith Street/Calton Road/Greenside Row

Two adjacent junctions with very high footfall, and low vehicle volumes: the balance of priority between pedestrian sea motor vehicle is completely inappropriate.

High Street at the Bridges

Inadequate pedestrian priority at a very busy junction with narrow pavements (at Tron). Pedestrian priority to cross the High Street, both at west and east sections needs to be significantly improved by signal phase and possibly filter changes.

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