Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary arm of the national charity, Living Streets, which campaigns for better conditions for ‘everyday walking’. In LSEG our key aim is to promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around the city. This note supplements the responses we made to the initial public consultation in April (http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2018/04/27/commentary-on-taking-trams-to-newhaven-consultation/) and July 2018.
In general, we remain supportive of the tram extension and further investment to improve public transport in Edinburgh. This is essential if the city is to become less car-dependent while at the same time growing by at least an expected 100,000 people in the next 20 years.
We are encouraged by a number of new elements in the proposed tram design, as shared with us on 11 October 2018. Together, these will represent significant improvements as part of the process of making Edinburgh a truly ‘walkable city’:
- General adherence to the Council’s Street Design Guidance (SDG), with many tightened junctions, continuous pavements, etc.
- Three or four locations where roundabouts are being replaced by traffic lights with signalised crossings, which are easier for pedestrians to cross.
- Major improvement of Elm Row and the awful London Road junction.
- New ‘public realm in several few areas, eg Bernard Street, Ocean Terminal rouddabout.
- Many more crossings (signalled and informal) across Leith Walk (north end).
- On Leith Walk, all lamp-posts will be relocated to the (1.8m wide) central reservation, aiding comprehensive pavement decluttering.
Remaining areas of concern:
- Some pavements are very narrow, especially at three bus stops at the north end of Leith Walk (one on the west side, two on the east); here the pavement is approximately 2m wide (with bus stop ‘floating’). This is inadequate and fails to meet SDG standards; we support the tram team’s suggestion that pavements are widened to 2.4m, by ‘pinching’ the one-way cycle path further at these bus stops.
- We continue to have concerns regarding widespread use of ‘floating bus stops’ throughout the scheme, at a time where the promised evaluation of the first such bus stops in the Pilrig to McDonald Rd area remains outstanding. We also understand that there is insufficient room for this type of bus stop design to comply with SDG standards at these three bus stops. A lack of space could create conflicts for cyclists and pedestrians, especially if there isn’t grade separation – as per the Pilrig to McDonald Rd section design.
- We are concerned that New Kirkgate is still an ‘option’ for a cycle route. Although we understand why northbound cyclists will be banned from entering Constitution St (because cycling will not be permitted through a tram stop) the Kirkgate is not a suitable place for commuter cyclists, or any other non-walking through-traffic.
- Pavements in the central part of Constitution St at North Leith church must be maintained at 2 metres wide or more. Any provision of loading facilities which reduced either pavement below this would be unacceptable.
- There is some shared cycle/pedestrian space proposed at Newhaven (extending an already shared space). We support investigation of options to provide separate cycle and walk spaces.
- We welcome the proposed setting up of an ‘Active Travel Group’ to look at detailed designs, involving stakeholders such as Spokes, Sustrans, Edinburgh Access Panel and LSEG. We will contribute to this as far as possible; however, our default position is that designs must adhere to SDG standards.
- We understand that consultants will prepare a report identifying exceptions to the standards in the SDG, which will be shared with the Active Travel Group.
- Funding has been secured to consider cycle route options from Foot o’ the Walk to Ocean Terminal. Again we will participate as necessary with this, but we query the proposition that Ocean Terminal is necessarily where most cyclists want to head to from Leith Walk at all? We expect that there will be a range of destinations for cyclists leaving Leith Walk northwards (to east and west as well as north) and these may be more important desire lines for cyclists than Ocean Terminal.
- We ask the Council to report on the evaluation of the Floating Bus Stop designs on Leith Walk.
- While we welcome the greatly-improved design of Elm Row, including the stopping-up of Montgomery Street, we suggest that a modelling exercise is undertaken in order to understand the effects of any traffic displacement on other streets in the vicinity.
- We welcome a number of potential opportunities to secure other street improvements which are beyond the immediate scope of the tram project such as: improved public realm at Ocean Terminal; traffic management of streets between Easter Road and Leith Walk; removal of the roundabout at foot of Easter Road at Leith Links; and re-instatement of historic ‘Boardwalk’ along the coast.
The full response can be downloaded as a pdf file here – Tram Extension to Newhaven Further Comments by Living Streets Edinburgh
The detailed design of the controversial Picardy Place traffic scheme must ensure that it is safe and convenient for people to get around the area on foot, says the local walking campaign group. Living Streets Edinburgh  has responded to the City Council’s decision to back the controversial gyratory roundabout design by setting out a detailed list of measures  which they say are essential to avoid conditions getting worse for pedestrians. David Spaven, Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, which campaigns for ‘everyday’ walking, commented:
‘It’s unacceptable that the Council should be proposing a design which would actually make life worse for pedestrians, through more circuitous road crossings, narrower footway sections, and cycling /walking conflicts where new cycleways bisect footways. So we’ve put together a two-page list of key design principles which would ensure that it will be easier for people to cross roads using direct routes and following desire lines.
‘A fundamental principle is that the design details must comply with the Council’s own Street Design Guidance, so, for example, footways should be at least 4 metres wide, providing plenty of space for pedestrians, pushchairs and people with disabilities.
‘Another big concern is the planned ‘Floating Bus Stops’ on Leith Street, which will bisect the east side footway and make life more difficult for bus passengers, unless the Council applies the highest possible design standards to avoid conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.’
 Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local volunteer arm of the national charity campaigning for ‘everyday’ walking.
 Living Streets Edinburgh 2-page position statement on the detailed design of Picardy Place can be found here – Living-Streets-position-statement-Picardy-Place-detailed-design
You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route
We welcome the measures included in this proposal to improve walking, although these are often fragmented and largely incidental to the continuous corridor-based approach to the cycling design – a particular example being the lack of continuous footways (avoiding changes of level for pedestrians) across side streets where they join the cycle corridor, despite this being a requirement of the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance (ESDG).
Worryingly, we have identified a number of other instances of the route design failing to comply with the ESDG. A fundamental principle of all such schemes is that designs should explicitly conform to the ESDG for the category/categories of street affected. Until the adoption of finalised Detailed Design Sheets for the ESDG, the latter’s Design Principles (as already adopted by the Council) should be adhered to, for example with regard to frequency of pedestrian crossing points, footway width, decluttering, crossfalls, improvements of currently sub-standard pedestrian crossing facilities and junction corner radii (amongst many other issues). These Principles are Council policy, and should also be adhered to in order to avoid the Council being subject to legal challenge under the Equality Act duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist protected groups.
We suggest that a workshop or seminar should be held in order to get the design right for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Key points of principle
- An increase (or no net loss) of pedestrian space.
- Footways meet recommended widths.
- Conflicts with cyclists are avoided, with dedicated and well-defined space provided for pedestrians (including separated ‘tiger’ crossings).
- Junctions make foot crossing easier by being raised, with radii of corners and widths minimised
- In busier areas, controlled crossings are provided in convenient places, with acceptable waiting and crossing times.
- Pedestrian priority is made clear at all the key crossing points of the cycle routes, eg with continuous footways across side streets at junctions.
- The design incorporates features to assist people with disabilities, including dropped kerbs (where continuous footways are not feasible), seating and tactile paving.
- The footway is made free from clutter.
- Guardrails are avoided / removed.
Impact of traffic:
- If the area is a residential or shopping street or busy pedestrian route the speed is 20mph and the design helps to achieve this speed.
- The level of parking and access to motor vehicles is appropriate and does not dominate the space.
You can read the full report here – LSE Response to Meadows to Castle Terrace cycle route
This is a lot more than a cycle route – it brings plenty of benefits for pedestrians too, in terms of safer junctions, wider pavements and more road crossings.
At an early stage of the consultation we were concerned with aspects of the design which would have caused conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, but we’ve been impressed by the way the Council took on board our constructive suggestions.
A key point is that the pavements will now be widened on both the north and south sides of the busy stretch of Roseburn Terrace, and they will both meet the minimum width standards stipulated in the Council’s own Street Design Guidance.
That will help to make Roseburn Terrace a more people-friendly place, less dominated by road vehicles.
A proposed change to the design of the planned Roseburn-Leith Walk segregated cycling route has been welcomed by the local walking campaign, Living Streets Edinburgh . The City Council’s amended plan published on 21st June suggested two options to change the route design at Roseburn Terrace, both of which removed the controversial ‘floating bus stop’ on the north side of Roseburn Terrace. The Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Spaven, said:
“We’re pleased that the Council have taken note of our biggest concern about the Roseburn design – a floating bus stop at this busy location would have created unwelcome conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists at a busy location.”
However, the group are continuing to strongly oppose the Council’s plan to drive the cycle route along the centre of the busy east end of Princes Street pavement, arguing that “this would take space from pedestrians and would create unmanageable conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians, in which the most vulnerable street users would inevitably come off worst.”
Living Streets says it is “surprised and disappointed” that the Council has not specifically addressed 16 other detailed concerns  it raised in the consultation, including the narrow footway on Roseburn Terrace towards the junction with Roseburn Street, and the proposed elimination of the eastbound bus lane from Roseburn to Coates Gardens.
In its submission the group indicates that it will continue to work with the Council on the details of this scheme, and to scrutinise the emerging design iterations to ensure that they (i) prioritise the needs of pedestrians, (ii) are in line with Council’s own Street Design Guidance, and (iii) comply with Equality Impacts Assessment requirements.
The full response can be found here
Response to Roseburn-Leith Walk cycle route project amendments 21/06/16