Tag Archives: Cycleways

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

Response to Meadows to George Street: Concept Design Consultation

LSE strongly supports and welcomes the general thrust of the City Centre Transformation proposals and is making a separate submission to that effect. With regard to this consultation, the design proposals embodied in the Concept Design for the Meadows to George St. Project are particularly welcome. The enhanced priorities for walking, cycling and public transport envisaged are essential for the improvement of the Meadows to George St. Route and for the city centre as a whole.

Traffic Reduction and Pedestrianisation

The proposals to remove general traffic from George 1V Bridge and part of the Mound, and to eliminate the outmoded Forrest Rd./Teviot Place/ Bristo Place gyratory scheme are particularly welcomed. So too is the intention to restrict access along Forrest Rd primarily to walking and cycling, with restricted loading/ unloading hours for deliveries. This would release the potential to create a vastly improved environment for pedestrians in and around Forrest Rd.  The extent to which that potential is realized will depend on there being effective management and enforcement regimes in place regarding both access for deliveries and the disposal of waste. All too often such good management and enforcement have been lacking to date.  We therefore would expect to see proposals for effective scheme management and enforcement advanced in parallel with the detailed designs for this scheme.  We also have reservations as to whether all bus services should be removed from Forrest Rd, as discussed below.

The diversions of general traffic away from George1V Bridge via Chambers St and Market St are very welcome in principle, but it seems obvious that this will mean higher traffic levels on the Bridges and Jeffrey Street. Not all of the diverted traffic can realistically be expected to evaporate. It therefore seems reasonable to expect to see some analysis of the expected impact, especially on the Bridges route, since it is already operating under stress, with a poor accident record, being often congested, and where current conditions for pedestrians are as bad as or worse than those on George 1V Bridge. Until these impacts are clarified, we cannot unreservedly support these traffic proposals.

 

The Cycleway

The design concept proposals envisage a 3 metre wide, 2-way cycleway along the east side of the route, through George 1V Bridge, the Mound and Hanover St. This is preferable to the alternative of 1-way cycleways along both sides of the street, in that it allows more space for wider pavements, and reduces the conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists at bus stops, halving the number of such locations. There remain nevertheless some serious difficulties associated with the floating bus stop design, and at the east side stop at the foot of the Mound in particular.

Floating Bus Stop Provision

Our concern over floating bus stop design centres on the conflicts they introduce between cyclists and pedestrians crossing the cycle lane to board a bus, or alighting from buses into the cycle lane. It is worth noting that the recent re-introduction of rear door exit buses by Lothian Buses is almost certain to make the alighting conflicts greater. Moreover we are still awaiting the findings from the promised evaluation of the Leith Walk floating bus stop.

We are not aware of any precedents of busy two-way cycle lanes at floating bus stops, either in Edinburgh or elsewhere in the UK. The Council’s own street design guidance (Factsheet C4, Segregated Cycle Tracks) only addresses one way cycle tracks at bus stops. This design therefore does not appear to conform to Council design standards.

The proposed design for the crossing points at the floating bus stops has included some highly desirable elements that LSE would regard as essential. The two raised and zebra striped crossings of the cycleway, linking to the floating platform on either side of the stop/shelter position, are of vital importance. Sufficient width, height, and ramping will all be critical to how well they help to reduce conflicts with cycling. A standard crossing width will not be adequate given the peaked nature of crossing at bus boarding times, and we suggest that they should be of at least twice the standard width, if not more when based on current and forecast passenger pick up and drop off levels.

At the foot of the Mound, and to a lesser extent in Hanover St., cyclists would be approaching the bus stop downhill, at speed in many cases, and creating severe conflicts with pedestrians at the stop. This is unsafe. At the 3rd June workshop cycling representatives also raised concerns about the suitability of the 2-way cycleway provision over this steep downhill section, and it was suggested that downhill cyclists should use the carriageway instead. We would strongly endorse this suggestion, as it would reduce the most severe conflicts that are otherwise likely to arise.

The platforms associated with the proposed floating bus stops would provide some additional space for awaiting passengers, but at the busy stops and pavements involved there is concern that this space would still be inadequate to allow for the concentration of conflicting pedestrian movements, and for safe interactions with cyclists in particular. Moreover those concentrations are being intensified at some of the busiest stops, in Hanover St and at the bottom of the Mound, by having a single stop and a single shelter for all bus services. The loss of already inadequate shelter and seating space at these stops will inevitably mean worse conditions for waiting pedestrians, and for those with mobility impairments in particular. We can see no justification for this and wish to see these losses compensated for by the provision of additional shelter and seating. That provision should be informed by an analysis of pedestrian flows and passenger usage at peak times of the year for the stops involved.  It is difficult to believe that this has been undertaken for these stops to date (if it has can we please see the results?), but it should become a routine procedure wherever a reduction in stop and/or shelter/ seating provision is under consideration.

Other Bus Services and Stops

A similar reduction in provision of bus stop facilities is seemingly proposed in shifting the provision of bus services from Forrest Rd. to Teviot Place, and gives rise to similar concerns. This shift is also likely to result in longer walks to most destinations and have adverse effects on the growing proportion more vulnerable bus users who are mobility impaired as pedestrians. We would wish to see a thorough analysis of this issue being undertaken before a commitment is made to the move. More generally this is an important issue that has not been receiving sufficient attention as yet in developing the wider City Centre Transformation proposals.

At the workshop we were informed that under the revised bus stop arrangements there would be no breaches of the CEC standard for the maximum walking distance between stops, which we understand to be 400m. It is understand that only one bus stop is to be removed under the concept design proposals, that being at the uphill stop on the Mound close to the junction with Market St. LSE does not object to this change since this stop is little used and does not serve any significant destinations. However, with no compensating changes being made to the stop locations along the route on either side, the distance to the next southbound bus stop (National Library) is about 500m. There will be pedestrians undertaking a longer and steep uphill walk, so there should be seating provided at intervals to help ease them on their way. The additional space proposed for pedestrians at the junction with Market St., and in association with the welcome closure of St Giles St. to traffic from Bank St., would seem to offer suitable locations. Such provision is especially important given the heavy demand for bus passengers and other pedestrians to visit the High Street.

Pedestrian Crossings

The loss of the median strip, which currently enhances the crossing opportunities for pedestrians throughout George 1V Bridge, is regrettable, but is seen to be acceptable given the wider pavements and reduced 6.5m carriageway width envisaged, provided that the current number of locations for crossing facilities is retained.

More formal enhanced crossings are proposed, light controlled at the Chambers St junction and with a zebra facility approximately half way along. It seems that dropped curb crossing points are envisaged at the other locations, but it is not clear from the on-line consultation drawings that this is the case, so we would appreciate clarification. There is a high demand for crossing next to the Victoria St. Junction and a clearly designated crossing facility is needed at this point in particular.

The proposed crossing of Bristo Place, Bedlam to the Museum, will provide a welcome and much needed facility.

Pavements

Wider pavements and other additional pavement space are an integral and very much needed feature of the concept proposals, and we look forward to the detailed development of these proposals.

There remain nonetheless some pavements where widths that are sub-standard remain; specifically along the Mound beside the RSA and National Galleries, and in Bristo Place. The space available at the east side Hanover St junction with Princes St also remains inadequate for the intense concentrations of pedestrians wanting to cross there.

The Mound galleries section is a particular concern. It is only ~ 2m wide, in contrast to the 3m minimum desirable width specified by the Council’s Design Guidance. This pavement serves many pedestrians, especially at peak seasons for visitors.  Those numbers can only be expected to increase, and a wider pavement should clearly be provided here. It would also be running alongside the proposed 3m wide cycleway serving many fewer cyclists, unless that section is modified to allow downhill cyclists to use the carriageway. Such a modification would have the added advantage of making it easier to accommodate the widened pavement that is needed.

The Bristo Place east side pavement is only ~ 2.5m wide, and can be expected to have to accommodate substantially more pedestrians if the relocation of the Forest Rd bus stops to Teviot Place goes ahead. We would therefore wish to see a wider pavement included here in developing the detailed designs. All the more so, and essential, if a loading area is to be  part of the design. From the exhibition drawings it would appear that a loading area is envisaged that overlaps with the existing pavement, and would take up most of the existing pavement width! This would be totally unacceptable for pedestrians.

It is claimed that a SUSTRANS analysis concluded that “all pavements reach the desired comfort level of the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance”. It is difficult to understand how this conclusion could have been reached in regard to these particular sections of pavement, and we can only surmise that the analysis was undertaken at an off peak time of year and with no allowance for the increases in activity that are to  be expected over the years to come. We would like some clarification on this and would appreciate the analysis being made available.

Greyfriars Bobby

The numbers of worshipers arriving at the wee dug’s statue, to stand and stroke and photograph him, have long resulted in severely obstructed space for pedestrians with crowds spilling over into the carriageway much of the time. The increased space it is proposed to provide will help to alleviate the current conditions, but will not eliminate the problems. Those problems moreover can only be expected to grow as the numbers of tourists continue to increase. It is surely therefore  time, in association with this project, for Bobby to be provided with a new home, away from the street and safer for all concerned. Preferably perhaps this should be in Greyfriars Kirkyard, where he can  be re-united with his master and where the worship can take place in appropriate peace. Please make him party to the project too.

 

 

 

Position Paper On Picardy Place Detailed Design

Following the regrettable decision of the City Council’s Transport & Environment Committee on 25th January 2018 to back the traffic-generating gyratory roundabout design, Living Streets Edinburgh is now focusing on the need for significant improvements in the detailed design of the Picardy Place scheme. Incredibly, the latest Council design actually represents a net deterioration in the pedestrian environment compared to the current (pre-Leith Street closure) situation on the ground – as a result of, in particular, more circuitous road crossings, narrower pavement sections, and cycling /walking conflicts where new cycleways bisect footways. This is not acceptable.

Continue reading Position Paper On Picardy Place Detailed Design

Picardy Place Decision ‘Embarrassing For Councillors’

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 [1] 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

[1]  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

Living Streets Edinburgh Group objects to Leith Street RSO

RSO/17/13 Leith Street, Calton Road, Greenside Row, Waterloo Place

Living Streets Edinburgh Group objects to RSO 17/13 on the following grounds:

1) All – pavement widths

Leith Street is designated as a Strategic High Street, according to the Street Design Guidance adopted by the Council in 2015 (i). This specifies that the pavement should be a minimum width of 3 metres (2.5 metres allowed only in short sections), with a desirable minimum width of 4m or wider. We cannot determine the exact pavement widths from the drawings, but it is clear that the pavement widths proposed in the order are far below the Council’s own specified standards on both sides of the street.

(i) http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/download/550/edinburgh_street_design_guidance

 

2) Crossing point of Leith Street East at Greenside Row

The drawing seems to imply that the entire pavement both the north and south sides of the Greenside Row corner is re-determined as cycle way from both footway and carriageway (10, 12, 16, 13). This leaves no footway whatsoever exclusively for pedestrians crossing Greenside Row. The drawing suggest that pedestrians are expected to wait in a designated cycle way before crossing Greenside Row. This is a busy pavement at all times – and is already excessively busy at certain times of the year (eg during the August festivals). It is unacceptable that pedestrians at this location should mix with cyclists. Of course, it would also be also extremely unhelpful for cyclists to encounter pedestrians on the cycle track.

 

3) Junction of Leith Street East at Greenside Row

The corner radii of Greenside Row (at 10, 16) are excessively large, which will encourage vehicles to travel fast when entering and exiting Leith Street. This is an inappropriate design for a 20 mph street. The Street Design Guidance (see above) specifies that the maximum radius for a corner of this type of street is 3 metres, and although not shown, the radii proposed are clearly far in excess of this.

 

4) Cycle manoeuvres, Leith Street (west) to Greenside Row

We are unclear what manoeuvres cyclists are expected to make heading north from the west side of Leith Street (6) to join the cycle track on the east side (10). We are concerned at the risk of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians involved in this manoeuvre.

5) Junction of Leith Street (east) at Calton Road

It is our understanding that the junction of Leith Street and Calton Road will be governed by a signalised crossing, although this does not appear to be indicated on the drawings. We would support this, so long as adequate pedestrian priority is provided in signal timings to permit the heavy pedestrian traffic to proceed effectively north/south. However, we have concerns that the cycle track on Leith Street heading south ends abruptly at Calton Road (10). There could be conflict at this junction between pedestrians and cyclists wishing to continue south, for example to the Bridges,

 

6) ‘Floating Bus Stop’ Leith Street (East).

The drawing shows a ‘floating bus stop’ (17). Living Streets’ opposes the further introduction of this feature until an objective and thorough monitoring is completed on the first such floating stop, introduced on Leith Walk (ii). This is because we are concerned at the risk of conflict between pedestrians (especially elderly and or disabled bus passengers alighting from a bus) and cyclists, where the cycle way lies between the bus stop and the pavement. This would be especially the case if the cycle way is, as we think 2-way, so downhill (northbound) cyclists may be going quite fast. No such monitoring has yet taken place or been planned to our knowledge and so we therefore oppose the redeterminations introducing this feature.

(ii) http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/02/08/living-streets-edinburgh-backs-floating-bus-stop-pilot-on-leith-walk/

 

David Hunter
for Living Streets Edinburgh Group

Thorn House
5 Rose Street
Edinburgh
EH2 2PR

17 October 2017