Tag Archives: Consultation

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

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.

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.

***

General response to various cycle schemes under ‘spaces for people’

This is a general response to the various cycle schemes advertised under the ‘spaces for people’ initiative (eg Wester Hailes Road, Ferry Road, Comiston Road, etc).

We support improvements to cycling infrastructure which encourages cycling and reduces motor traffic, so long as it is not detrimental to the actual and potential walking environment. Organisations like Spokes have rightly been very clear that new space for cycling must come from space for motor vehicles, rather than for walking. We therefore wish to record our support for the overall programme. However, we have two significant qualifications.

Pedestrian improvements

It is hard to see *any* improvements for people walking in these schemes? While general pavement widening may be difficult to achieve simultaneously with installation of cycle lanes, this should be a priority where pavements are especially narrow (eg south side of Ferry Road). We would expect to see at least significant efforts to remove pavement clutter such as signage poles and guard rails and simple measures such as cutting back hedges, sweeps of roadworks debris (traffic cones, sandbags, etc.) We also want to priority for pedestrians increased at all signalled junctions. Given that almost everyone is a pedestrian in their own neighbourhood, such measures are also likely to increase local support for these schemes, including among people who don’t cycle.

Floating Bus stops

We note that there are dozens of ‘bus stop bypasses’ or ‘floating bus stops’ proposed in these cycle schemes, which route cyclists between the bus stop and the pavement, rather than on the road. There appear to be at least: 13 on Comiston Road, 10 on Ferry Road, 9 in Wester Hailes, 7 on Meadow Place Road and 5 on Fountainbridge.

As the Council’s Active Travel team is well aware, the Living Streets Edinburgh Group has never been happy with this design concept which means that bus passengers boarding – and especially alighting from – buses have to cross a cycle way and may therefore unexpectedly encounter a cyclist, possibly travelling at considerable speed. While we recognise the benefits for cyclists, this design can only disadvantage bus users and pedestrians, especially older people and blind people, many of whose representative organisations have objected to the design concept.

Living Streets Edinburgh did not object to the first Leith Walk examples, on the understanding that a full monitoring and evaluation was carried out. The Council eventually agreed to this in 2017 but although we understand that this exercise has long been completed, it has never been published. It is wholly inappropriate to use the Covid19 pandemic and ‘spaces for everyone’ programme as the means for the sudden mass installation of these controversial bus stop designs at virtually no notice and with minimal consultation.

We therefore strongly oppose their inclusion in the Council’s current proposals. We suggest that instead, a much wider review exercise is taken at a later date, to consider the use of floating bus stops in the city strategically, once evaluation evidence is in the public domain. This should involve all relevant interests – walking, cycling, bus passengers, disability groups, etc.