Tag Archives: Traffic

Holyrood Park Consultation – LSE Response

Dear HES

We would like to make the following comments regarding the current consultation on the Outline Strategy for Holyrood Park. We are focussing on the use of the Park as a traffic route. We acknowledge the huge importance of the Park as a precious resource for Edinburgh residents and visitors.

Our view is that motor vehicles should not be allowed through the Park. The Park would be enhanced by being vehicle-free in every respect including pollution, safety and ambience. Access needs to be retained to the Park periphery to enable people to reach the Park who depend on cars, most obviously Blue Badge holders, and options need to be developed to provide appropriate environmentally-friendly access within the Park.

However, decisions on traffic through the Park need to be taken in the context of wider Edinburgh traffic plans (“Circulation Plan/Future Streets”). Closing the Park to through traffic will have impacts on the surrounding areas. In the short term at least, without further measures being introduced, it would increase motor traffic in heavily populated areas such as St Leonards, Abbeyhill and Meadowbank. It would mean more vehicles passing Preston Street, Holyrood and Abbeyhill Primary School, increasing congestion, pollution and road danger. A traffic-free Park must be part of an Edinburgh-wide traffic plan.

In the immediate future, the Park should be enhanced for people walking and wheeling. Priorities should be to re-introduce zebra crossings (or ‘informal zebras’ without beacons) across the many desire lines, especially in the vicinity of Holyrood Palace and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, where pedestrians struggle to cross the road. Speed reducing measures are also needed to combat the widespread non-observance of speed limits.

Finally, we wish to see an immediate re-opening of the Radical Road. The closure of the whole section is absurdly disproportionate to the risk of injury.

David Hunter
Convener

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.

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.

Strategic Transport Projects Review/ STPR2 – Comments by LSE

Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local voluntary branch of the national campaign for everyday walking and wheeling. We welcome the opportunity to comment on the Scottish Government’s draft proposals for capital investment in transport over the next 20 years (STPR2).  https://www.transport.gov.scot/our-approach/strategy/strategic-transport-projects-review-2/

Walking and Wheeling

The draft STPR2 proposals completely fail to recognise the importance, or scale of the task, of improving pedestrian spaces in Scotland. With ‘walking and wheeling’ top of the Scottish Government’s own sustainable travel hierarchy, the lack of any coherent programme to improve the everyday pedestrian experience is a serious omission which, unless rectified, would greatly undermine the opportunity to achieve the Government’s social, economic and environmental objectives.

There is a wealth of evidence on the negative effects of, and inequalities caused by, poor walking environments. Given the emphasis in STPR2 on ‘evidence-based’ decision-making, it is essential that an ambitious programme to improve the legacy of inaccessible, inadequate and poor quality infrastructure is adopted as a strategic priority.

In particular, we call for:

  • the inclusion of local roads in the scope of the STPR2. This is vital for the achievement of many of the recommendations, including ‘Connected Neighbourhoods’ (#1) and ‘Increasing Active Travel to Schools’ (#8).
  • a specific theme on improving pavements – both widening them and improving the surface quality. The wider pavements introduced by the City of Edinburgh Council in local town centres as part of ‘Spaces for People’ have almost all been removed. We wrote to Ministers in 2021 (jointly with Spokes Lothian) asking that capital funding is made available to councils to ensure that infrastructure is introduced to replace temporary schemes which is fit for purpose in the long term: bit.ly/3vJkoJZ The STPR2 is the opportunity to address this.
  • investment in walk-friendly junctions. Scotland (like the rest of the UK) has a massive legacy of street design which favours vehicles, not people. Junction splays in many residential areas are wide, favouring 30+ mph speeds even where those limits have been reduced to 20 mph. There is a huge job to redesign junctions with a tighter radius and shorter crossing route for pedestrians.
  • investment in traffic signals and pedestrian crossings. Much signalling infrastructure is out of date and cannot easily be adapted to give priority to travel modes which we need to put first – public transport, cycling and especially of course, walking.  We have documented pedestrian wait times at dozens of signalled crossings in Edinburgh and found many to be quite unacceptable: bit.ly/35xMRHp. On a positive note, there is a massive opportunity to improve them at relatively modest investment.
  • a national programme of investment in dropped kerbs and continuous footways. In Edinburgh, we have been told that 17,000 out of 22,000 junctions have no, or substandard, kerb arrangements. These make pavements dangerous – or simply unusable – for many pedestrians, especially disabled people.
  • a national effort to reduce pavement clutter (and to stop adding to it). This includes management of temporary obstructions such as hedges and bins, and removal of unnecessary fixed structures such as signage poles and guard rails, many of which persist despite changes in legislation (TSRGD 2016) and recognised best practice. New threats to pavements such as telecoms cabinets and EV chargers must be avoided. See our reports and video resources for further information here: bit.ly/3rMTqPD.
  • an initiative to encourage the provision of seats and toilets, especially in high footfall areas. Both of these simple, modest measures are important to many pedestrians – and especially for older people, children, disabled people and women. A national programme which increased such provision would make many areas more attractive and inclusive at modest cost.

Cycling

We support investment in cycling infrastructure, especially in routes which will encourage more people to commute into Edinburgh by bike, rather than by car. However, the recommendations under the ‘Active Travel’ theme do not have the right balance between walking/wheeling on the one hand, and cycling on the other, and this section does not properly reflect the agreed ‘sustainable travel hierarchy’.

Influencing Travel Choices

We strongly support the wider rollout of 20 mph speed limits in residential and shopping areas. However, they need to be accompanied by both engineering and enforcement measures. Many streets are designed for 30mph+ travel and driver compliance is known to be lower in such circumstances. There is enormous scope for imaginative use of new technology to assist with compliance, education and enforcement.

Measures to encourage active travel to school are very important. Our comments under the first active travel theme are relevant here. Official data (TaTiS 2019) shows that 52% of children currently walk to school in Scotland, which is an encouraging basis to build on. Only 2% of children cycle and while there is certainly scope to increase this figure, this data underlines again the need for active travel efforts to focus much more on safe walking environments.

Public transport

We support investment in the public transport measures with two qualifications. It is vital that good quality public transport is available if car reduction targets are to be achieved. However, we don’t support the recommendations on ‘DRT and MaaS’ (#20) or ‘mobility hubs’ (#22) as they stand.  We consider these initiatives to be over-hyped and lacking an evidence base that they will make a significant contribution to improved public mobility. We suggest instead that investment in DRT focuses on exploring opportunities there may be to develop existing DRT services such as community transport (which is under-funded), taxis and private hire cars. ‘Mobility hubs’ should be seen simply as one aspect of better transport interchanges (#21) rather than as a separate recommendation in its own right.

Increasing …resilience

The STPR2 has far too many ‘get out clauses’ which could be used to justify further significant investment in trunk roads and motorways, especially under the ‘Increasing safety and resilience’ theme.  For example, “Junction improvements, carriageway widening, route realignment and provision of overtaking opportunities” (#30) are not the priorities Scotland needs. These recommendations are not consistent with the ambitious national targets to reduce motor traffic, and would have an enormous opportunity cost in reducing the scope for investment in everyday walking and wheeling.

Planning policy

Investment in infrastructure needs to be accompanied by complementary planning policy. The ‘Infrastructure First’ principle, advocated in the draft NPF4, is essential so that new developments do not proceed until suitable sustainable transport options are in place. This is especially important around Edinburgh; for example the housing developments around West Craigs and Winchburgh where it appears that the essential new railway station may be in doubt despite massive housing expansion.

This document can be downloaded as a pdf here

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