Tag Archives: street Design Guidance

What are The City of Edinburgh Council plans for city centre traffic?

What are The City of Edinburgh Council plans for city centre traffic?

What will they mean for everyday walking and wheeling?

Join us online at 12.00 on 1 March to hear a short presentation from Daisy Narayanan and join the Q&A!

Register you place here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAsc-ugrjwpEtRfWiZMru0iH5nbbZlNLzXF#/registration

Minute of Living Streets Edinburgh Annual General Meeting

Quaker Meeting House, November 14, 2022
Approximately 25 people were present.

  1. A number of apologies were recorded
  2. The Minute of LSEG AGM 2021 was approved and adopted. There were no matters arising.
  3. David Hunter noted LSEG’S significant activity of the previous year.
  4. Isobel Leckie noted that financial activity this year was minimal. The bank account balance with Bank of Scotland is £1144.36.
  5. DH outlined the current structure of the Living Streets Edinburgh Group having no formal committee structure but individuals taking responsibility for particular aspects. A requirement of Living Streets is that local groups have two named office holders. It was agreed that David Hunter and Isobel Leckie continue in respective posts as Convenor and Treasurer.
  6. Guest speaker Cllr. Arthur made the point that personal transport is about having choices and that these should focus on sustainability. Although walking is the main mode for a third of the population it arouses least public comment. He wanted to get away from an ongoing battle between cyclists and motorists. and to focus more on walking and public transport.
  7. A number of questions were raised from the floor which Cllr Arthur responded to.
  8. DH spoke to a paper indicating LSEG proposed priorities for 2023:
    – Campaign for increased budgets for the pedestrian environment (capital and staffing)
    – Secure better enforcement of controls on parking
    – Support specific local campaigns for placemaking and traffic reduction – LTNs, 20 min – Neighbourhood plans
    – Develop walk friendly- environments at and around schools
    – Influence planning policy and practice to aid walking and wheeling and reduce motor traffic
    – Grow number of our supporters and range of our campaigns.
    – DH described ways in which individuals could become involved with LSEG campaigning and encouraged anyone interested to get in touch.
  1. There was no further business and the meeting was closed.

Living Streets Edinburgh Group response to draft Council plans, May 2023

The City of Edinburgh Council has issued a number of important draft plans related to its overall ‘City Mobility Plan’.  You can read our comments here on the plans for Active Travel, Road Safety and Parking.

You can see the Council’s draft plans, and how to comment on them here: https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/cmp/ The deadline for responses is 9 July 2023: please have your say! We also welcome your feedback on our comments. 

Edinburgh Accessible Streets Initiative (EASI): Proposal from Living Streets Edinburgh Group

Council officials have estimated that there are 17,000 inadequate or missing dropped kerbs in the capital. This makes pedestrian movement for many people difficult or impossible and is at odds with the ‘Equal Pavements Pledge’ signed by the Council in 2021 https://www.transportforall.org.uk/campaign/equal-pavements-pledge/. Step-free pedestrian surfaces have a crucial role in not only making a city inclusive for disabled people, but one which makes walking and wheeling easier and more attractive for everyone else too.

The ‘dropped kerb programme’ has been designated as a ‘high priority’ action in council plans since at least 2010, when the first Active Travel Action Plan was produced. However it is only in the last year that systematic progress has been realised on the ground, and it currently has the capacity to deliver no more than 20 – 30 new dropped kerbs each year. (It is recognised that in addition, an increasing number of missing dropped kerbs are also being installed through routine maintenance and major capital schemes.)

However, Council action to improve pavement accessibility is not at present of sufficient scale to make the improvements needed, faced with the city’s historic legacy of inaccessible footways. The recent experience of installing dropped kerbs has also highlighted the need in many places to not only ‘drop’ the kerb at side roads, yards, vennels and such like but to make other improvements. In many cases, especially where the side road carries little traffic, a continuous footway is a better solution than a dropped kerb and these have begun to be installed in Edinburgh (for example Lauriston Place). Many side road junctions would benefit not only from step-free kerbs, but also ‘tightening’ the splay, to reduce the distance which pedestrians have to cross, and to slow down turning traffic. This also helps other high priority road users such as cyclists.

The current programme budgets are not sufficient to fund interventions like continuous footways and improvements to junction geometry at scale. It is therefore proposed to develop a much more ambitious programme to elevate the current ‘dropped kerb programme’ efforts to a major initiative to improve pedestrian accessibility. The Mobility and Access Committee Scotland (MACS) has advocated such initiatives through its guidance ‘Small Changes Can make a Big Difference’ bit.ly/3zrT4AG.

The new programme could set a number of strategic goals, along the lines of to ensure that…

• within x years, all Retail High Streets and High Density Residential Streets (as defined in ESDG) are step-free;
• within y years, all (major) bus routes are step-free;
• designated ‘town centres’ will be step-free as part of 20 minute neighbourhoods.

The programme would need to operate at multiple levels, co-ordinating activity from different sections of the Council. It would include ensuring step free pedestrian space is included as part of major projects (like CCWEL), but also that small scale (and cheaper) improvements continue to be delivered as part of capital maintenance programmes and on demand, in addition to the more strategic goals such as those suggested above. Ensuring that developers pay for improvements where appropriate would be another important element, which would require significant change from the Planning department.

Monitoring will be another important aspect of the programme, so that accurate information is maintained on how many kerbs have been improved, and what still needs to be done. Comprehensive online maps should show step-free pedestrian routes. The programme could also be further extended to engage with the public for example through joining ’Project Sidewalk’ which enables citizens to comment on and evaluate accessibility through direct lived experience (see for example, Amsterdam: https://sidewalk-amsterdam.cs.washington.edu/ )

Implementation on a programme like EASI will almost certainly require external funding – for example from Sustrans, or directly from the Scottish Government either through direct Active Travel grants or associated with the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2). With a sufficiently high budget and scope, this programme could not only make a tangible impact on improving the experience for disabled – and indeed all – pedestrians in Edinburgh, but also act as an exemplar to raise the bar in our expectations for walking and wheeling across Scotland.

David Hunter
Living Streets Edinburgh Group

November 2022

The Wisp / Old Dalkeith Road

A Living Streets Edinburgh volunteer paid a detailed visit to this junction following social media reports. She described it as “one of the worse junctions I’ve seen. Truly shocking, and feels unsafe to walk across.
Pedestrian is vulnerable crossing three lanes of traffic with vehicles passing close by at up to 40mph. I would avoid using this crossing, and it would be especially risky for slower walkers, eg. with children, wheelchairs, sight impairment, or elderly, etc.”

Summary:
• Inadequate green man illumination (7 seconds).
• Wide splay, no islands, cyclists swirling along pavement.
• Small crossing signals, poorly positioned and difficult to see.
• Absence or invisibility of road sign for change of speed limit.
• Two cars observed speeding through crossing while woman was walking on Green Man phase.

Details:

Old Dalkeith Road (A7) / The Wisp
Traffic signals
Not automated
No audio (beeps)
Tactile cones – present and workoing
Max waiting time for GM: 59 seconds
Length of GM phase: 7 seconds
Date Fri 23/9/22
Time 12.30

Description:

This is a busy junction designed to ease vehicle flow, not protect pedestrians. The Wisp runs north-south onto Old Dalkeith Road which is in west – east direction (before bending south). There are two lanes of traffic both ways on Old Dalkeith Road travelling at 40mph. It is a complex traffic light system with filters for different traffic lanes going straight ahead or turning.

The speed limit changes at the junction, from 40mph on Old Dalkeith Road, to 30mph on The Wisp. There is a 30mph sign visible to vehicles turning right into The Wisp from east side of junction, but no sign is visible to vehicles turning in from the west. Without visible signage, vehicles turning left into The Wisp may continue to drive at 40mph in the 30mph zone past Danderhall village.

I’ve reported this speed signage problem to CEC and to Midlothian Council (as the junction is on the border).

Junction is splayed wide and traffic turns corner at 40mph.

There are two pedestrian crossings, operating separately from each other – south end of The Wisp, and Old Dalkeith Road at east side of junction. Both crossings span three traffic lanes with no islands offering protection. Pedestrian road markings are not easily visible, camouflaged by colour of road.

People must ‘cross with traffic’ which feels dangerous while vehicles alongside are moving through filter lights.

The new pavement on the west side of The Wisp is extra wide -maybe it is for shared use with bicycles? There are no signs on the pavement, but the pedestrian crossing includes cycle lights. Cyclists were observed using the pavement. (Not surprised – cycling on the road here would be hazardous or frightening, given the multiple traffic lanes and high speeds.)

There is a new housing estate under construction to the north-west of the junction.
The bus stop on the south side of Old Dalkeith Road is accessible only via the pedestrian crossing.

The crossing light for pedestrians is mounted at waist height and faces in the direction of the road, not the pedestrian’s crossing route, so the GM on the far side is not visible when walking across.
The GM is illuminated for only 7 seconds and changes to red before people have crossed the road, even when walking quickly.

By the time the pedestrian light on the far side becomes visible, it has changed to red, which is alarming since you have no way of knowing how long before traffic starts to move again.

Together with vehicles moving through the junction alongside while GM is illuminated, the pedestrian feels feels vulnerable and insecure.

Total cycle time varied from 1 minute to 1 min 45 sec, so the GM appearance was unpredictable. There are no beeps, and the pedestrian crossing light is small and poorly positioned, so it is easy to miss the change from red to green, and then have to wait another minute or more. It is also possible to miss the GM phase because it is so short, especially if watching the traffic to gauge when the lights will change.

I saw a person crossing without waiting for GM light, which is very risky because of unpredictable traffic flow from traffic filter lanes.

In one phase I saw two cars drive fast through the green man while a woman was crossing The Wisp. She was visibly shaken. She was on The Wisp crossing and the cars were turning left into The Wisp from Old Dalkeith Road (west) where traffic was moving at 40mph.

Either the drivers deliberately drove through their light on red, or they were confused by the filter lights (which were red for left but green for ahead). The cars went through the crossing a long time after the GM appeared, as the woman was already half way across.

Spoke to two women with pushchairs who were obviously frustrated with this crossing. They said it had been installed quite recently. The previous system had both pedestrian crossings green at the same time, and all traffic stopped at once, which felt safer as pedestrians could cross without vehicle movement. They miss the audio beeps that have disappeared.

The women were very glad to speak as they feel ignored by council and road planners.

Photos attempt to show poor visibility of pedestrian lights, and wide splay of roads at junction.