Tag Archives: street Design Guidance

LSEG Suggestions on a new approach to Pedestrian Crossings, July 2022

Living Streets Edinburgh Group would like to suggest changes to the traditional approach taken to decision-making about pedestrian crossings which has been in place at CEC for many years. To date, this has principally involved a report every two years on a ‘Pedestrian Crossing Programme Update’ which seeks councillors’ approval for an updated list of pedestrian crossings. A report is due later this year.

We want see a new approach which more clearly recognises the agreed ‘sustainable travel hierarchy’ (with walking and wheeling at the top) and is set in the wider context of ambitions to reduce travel by private car, road injuries and deaths etc.

A new crossing has recently been installed on Corstorphine Road east of Kaimes Road which was originally approved in 2010! While we recognise that a number of legitimate factors can cause delays, the pedestrian crossing programme has systematically and institutionally suffered delays and backlogs for years. We need to honestly understand why this is and what can be done to improve it – especially in view to the promised (in Labour Manifesto) increase of 20% in the pedestrian crossing budget.

We also think that there is scope to invest more in upgrade signalling infrastructure which will not only increase the scope to improve the pedestrian experience, but could also benefit other high-priority modes such as bike and bus. There may be opportunities to benefit from Scottish Government funding for such investment as a result of the Strategic Transport Projects Review (2) or ‘smart cities’ initiatives. However, many improvements can be made quickly and cheaply.

We therefore make the following specific suggestions which we ask to be considered:

  • The method that the council has been using to decide whether to put in a crossing or not, and what kind of crossing if so, is in our view obsolete. It is based on the so-called ‘PV2’ method – essentially calculating how many pedestrians (P) cross at present and how many vehicles use the road (V). This clearly fails to take account of ‘suppressed demand’ – people who currently don’t try to cross the road because they think it isn’t safe. We do however agree that some ‘objective’ measures are needed – if the methodology is just based on people lobbying for crossings, it is the middle class areas that will get all the crossings and poorer communities which may need them more, will be unfairly disadvantaged. LSEG would be pleased to contribute to detailed consideration of alternative methodologies for prioritising pedestrian crossings, particularly using the expertise of our long-standing supporter John Russell, a retired academic in urban design who has significant expertise in the subject.
  • We would like the programme to not only identify which locations should be prioritised for use of the pedestrian crossing budget, but to also consider wider issues of ‘walkability’. In particular the programme should take account of both our own work recording the ‘wait times’ and ‘green man times’ over the last two years (https://bit.ly/35xMRHp) and also the work by the Jacobs consultant as part of the Spaces for People programme (appended). We want to see the methodology used by Jacobs extended to all signalled crossings in the city.
  • This should result in a number of short-term, low-cost measures which will significantly improve the pedestrian experience at many sites. These would include: 
  • identifying opportunities to reduce the wait time for pedestrians;
    • identifying opportunities to extend green man times, especially in areas with large elderly populations;
    • identifying sites where additional green man phases can be introduced, such as at Royal Mile/South Bridge and Nicolson St/West Richmond St, giving pedestrians double the opportunity to cross;
    • implementing all specific opportunities identified in the Jacobs report, such as a ‘walk with traffic’ option at the Chambers Street / South Bridge junction;
    • ensuring that the that the Master Time Clock is set to enable school children to cross at ‘off-peak’ settings, which have better pedestrian priority than peak settings.
  • We would also like to see longer-term consideration of ways to improve pedestrian crossings, especially to challenge current assumptions about the relative priorities of ‘traffic flow’ and pedestrian benefit. This should also link into the ‘Major Junctions Review’, currently being led by Anturas consulting on the Council’s behalf.
  • We want to see more use of measures to assist pedestrians to cross side roads, to reinforce new provisions in the Highway Code. These should include engineering measures to ’tighten’ junctions, to install raised crossings and to pilot the use of cheap, ‘informal’ zebra crossings. We believe that the Council can and should be less risk-averse in seeking more opportunities to pilot these zebras.
  • We want to see more use of cameras at junctions to detect and deter bad driver behaviour; far too many vehicles currently run amber and red lights with impunity. Some of our research referred to above identifies some specific sites where we recommend this.
  • We advocate much more assertive use of planning mechanisms – both voluntary and Section 75 – to secure funding from developers for crossings (and indeed for other pedestrian facilities such as dropped kerbs and junction improvements).
  • Finally, while the organisation of staff responsibilities is clearly a matter for the Council’s management, we suggest that consideration should be given to moving the pedestrian crossing budget from the road safety team to integrated it better with other facilities to encourage walking. This could be in the Active Travel team, or in a new team focussed solely on walking, or possibly under a new umbrella associated with developing ’20 minute neighbourhood’ work.

David Hunter

July 2022

Smokey Brae Consultation – LSE Response

LSEG supports the proposals for Smokey Brae in the consultation advertised in April 2022: https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/smokey-brae-improvements-developed-designs/

Smokey Brae is currently at total odds with the transport hierarchy. It feels like a hostile environment for anyone not moving in a car. The current layout puts pedestrians in as an afterthought and is particularly unsuitable for anyone pushing a pram or using a wheelchair. The pavement is too narrow, and traffic moves incredibly quickly and close to those using it. The pavement creates a pinch point that when two adults walk through in opposite directions on foot, they struggle to pass. If a pram or wheelchair is involved, one party must give way. Currently, walkers and wheelers who choose to avoid this junction due to its inadequacies must make a 15-minute detour.

LSEG greatly welcomes the proposals to redesign Smokey Brae and create a space that respects the transport hierarchy more.

We strongly support the introduction of continuous pavement with raised table junctions. We would like you to implement these using pavement materials rather than road material as this will emphasise pedestrian priority.

The designs appear to reduce the overall footway space available for pedestrians by removing the pavement on the eastern side of the road. However, this seems to be a reasonable compromise as there is currently no safe crossing near the railway underpass, and the existing footway is too narrow.

If it’s possible to make the proposed new pavement even wider, LSEG will welcome this. However, we appreciate this may not be easy to do given the overall width available and the welcome introduction of safe infrastructure for cyclists. Perhaps you could achieve this by closing the road from the T-junction to the Meadowbank House entrance to both northbound and southbound traffic, except for emergency vehicles only. This change would allow the fire service quick access to the south and create ample room for walkers, wheelers and cyclists alike.

LSEG members have noted that the Jock’s Lodge crossroads have abysmal pedestrian crossing times. Those who need to cross the road must wait for 2-minutes between signals and only have 7 seconds to cross. People who want to go down Smokey Brae will need to use these crossings. Pedestrians coming from Portobello Road will now have to as the pavement has switched sides. Therefore we think it should be a requirement to adjust the timings of these crossings to give more priority to pedestrians; 7 seconds isn’t enough!

Lastly, we’ve mentioned in our other answers to the survey that we would like the introduction of seating and wildflowers. Due care should be given to the seating positioning so as not to obstruct the natural movement of people through the area.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging : Living Streets Edinburgh Group views (April 2022)

1.  LSEG welcomes the rollout of EV charging for the city.

With the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) passenger vehicles due to be stopped from 2030, we urgently need to develop green alternatives and the necessary infrastructure to support them. This will not in itself reduce congestion or the dominance of streets by motor vehicles, or road safety.

Encouraging a switch from private cars to shared vehicles and improved public transport, cycling and (of course) walking and wheeling, is vital. The ‘Sustainable Travel Hierarchy’ (with walking and wheeling top, and private cars last) must be respected.

2. With regard to proposals for public EV charging, we support a street-by-street zoned approach. Incentives should be available to encourage owners of EVs to charge at home, with standard and fast chargers using off peak electricity when possible.

3. We recognise that many residents in the inner city do not have garages or driveways where they can charge their vehicles. For these users we support on-street carriageway build-outs (i.e. not on the footway) and lighting column EV chargers, where they are adjacent to the kerbside.

4. For commercial vehicles, taxis, LGVs, HGVs (and indeed buses) we believe rapid chargers should be located in special off-street hubs. Rapid and ultra-rapid chargers are large and not suited to either commercial or residential streets.

5. We do not support the siting of EV infrastructure on existing footways. The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) has recognised the problems of pavement clutter, as highlighted in recent years by LSEG and Living Streets nationally; mass installation of EV chargers on footways would run entirely counter to this policy.  No EV infrastructure at all should be sited on the city’s most historic streets such as the Royal Mile or George Street.

6. CEC should enforce prohibitions against laying wires between private properties and vehicles on the road.

7. At present, there is considerable uncertainty around many aspects of EV, due to the first units being commissioned before design guidance has been agreed, and the lack of zoning. We need to see that design guidance, after it has been written by CEC, and we need to know more about the processes and entitlements for the EV infrastructure proposals, for objecting to EV charger placement, etc?

8.   We look forward to continued engagement with CEC on this topic, which is likely to evolve quickly. We would also welcome public feedback, from ‘everyday walking’ perspectives.

Living Streets Edinburgh Group

April 2022

LivingStreets Edinburgh Group: our manifesto for Council elections May 2022

Please see our manifesto for the 2022 council elections. We hope that all parties and all candidates will adopt these policies, to make Edinburgh the wonderfully walkable city it should be. Please help get walking and wheeling given the priority it needs by asking your councillor and candidates for their support!

Living Streets Edinburgh is the local group of the national charity that campaigns for everyday walking and wheeling. Edinburgh is essentially a wonderful city for walking, thanks to its size, history and geography. However, the pedestrian environment is often substandard and overlooked by policy makers. We want everyday walking to be accessible, attractive, convenient and quick.

All parties in the current council agreed in August 2020 that walking is “top of the sustainable movement hierarchy”. But in practice walking is often given inadequate priority and funding, despite it being the greenest and most universal way that people travel.  We ask all candidates and political parties standing for election in May 2022 to support the following actions for the next council term:

Reduce motor traffic

  • Reduce road space for motor vehicles, including supporting low traffic zones and reducing on-street parking spaces;
  • provide better alternatives for people to travel by walking, cycling and public transport;
  • adopt a tougher approach to enforcement of antisocial parking – including at bus stops, schools and in bus and cycle lanes;
  • early and ‘zero tolerance’ enforcement of the pavement parking ban when it is introduced.

Improve pavements

  • Introduce proper wider pavements in all ‘town centre’ locations, replacing the temporary ‘spaces for people’ measures;
  • make pavements smooth and trip-free with a 20% increase in footway maintenance budgets;
  • set a new budget to remove pavement clutter, and stop adding to it (for example through EV chargers);
  • introduce at least 100 dropped kerbs (or continuous pavements) a year where they are missing.

Improve pedestrian crossings

  • Review every signalled pedestrian crossing to reduce the time people have to wait to cross;
  • increase the ‘green man time’ for pedestrians to a minimum of 10 seconds;
  • increase the pedestrian crossing budget by 20% and support the widespread introduction of low cost crossings such as ‘informal zebras’.

Make roads safer

  • Renew the council’s road safety plan with a vision zero approach – there should be no deaths or serious injuries from traffic collisions by 2030;
  • increase enforcement of road traffic offences such as speeding and red light jumping, with a big increase in the use of speed cameras;
  • introduce a safe travel plan for every school in the city which either removes traffic from the school gates or (where not possible) makes the pavement wider.

Use planning controls effectively

  • Encourage car-free housing on brownfield sites;
  • reject car-dependent applications including commercial ventures such as ‘drive through’s;
  • ensure developers pay a fair contribution to improving pedestrian spaces through voluntary or ‘Section 75’ payments.

https://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk

November 2021

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.