Below is a briefing on a Council plan to close key roads to improve safety for cycles and pedestrians. I will share further details when I get them. I would welcome suggestions for measures to be implemented in my Ward.
The City of Edinburgh Council is set to become one of the first local authorities in the UK to introduce emergency measures to help pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely while observing physical distancing guidance.
COVID-19 has undoubtably changed the way in which the road network is being used and will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.
There is significant public concern and demand for changes to how parts of our road and footway network are configured to allow easier, safer distancing to be practiced when people are moving around for daily exercise or as essential workers. The Council needs to act quickly in response to this, so it can support safe travel by foot and bike for all our citizens.
There have been significant increases in the number of people walking and cycling during recent weeks in comparison to normal conditions.
Yesterday’s announcement from the Scottish Government confirmed a £10m ‘Spaces for People’ fund to help local authorities introduce such emergency measures. It will provide 100% funding for what are expected to be relatively low cost, emergency measures. Our Active Travel Team has been working closely with Transport Scotland and SUSTRANS to develop an approach within the current legislative framework.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be implementing several changes to help prioritise walking and cycling. Immediate actions will tackle areas highlighted as pinch points for pedestrians and cyclists and will include some road lane closures and the implementation of temporary cycle lanes. There has been significant, understandable public demand for action to help facilitate safe daily exercise and the movement of essential workers.
In the medium term, as lockdown measures continue and are eventually eased, we will develop a citywide approach to more significant changes, such as expanded cycle lanes and the creation of bus gates. Longer term, it is proposed that progress on more permanent schemes under the Active Travel Programme is brought forward.
Immediate measures will include the closure of the following roads:
• Silverknowes Road (implemented by Thursday, 30 April)
• Braid Road (implemented by Sunday, 3 May)
• Links Gardens (implemented by Sunday, 3 May)
These locations have been identified in close dialogue with relevant Council services and Police Scotland who have expressed concerns in each area. Further emergency measures are being investigated for implementation in the weeks beginning 4 May and 11 May and these will be communicated as soon as possible.
We will continue to quickly address other ‘pinch points’ and local issues, making use of Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders where necessary, which allow urgent amendments to be made to road layouts to help create more space for people on foot or bike.
A report will be brought to Policy and Sustainability Committee on 14 May 2020 detailing a city-wide approach to more significant network changes eg the creation of expanded cycle lanes, lane closures in vehicle space to create more space for walking or cycling or the creation of bus gates that prevent access to all but a few types of vehicles.
Further information on the Council’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is available online.
In creating new road layouts, the Council is required to use Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). The process involved in doing so is onerous, due to the need to effectively consult on proposals. The need for more urgent changes to our network means that we need to find a more effective path towards effective action.
Section 14 (1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTRA) 1984 allows the Roads Authority (the Council) to produce Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs) in certain circumstances that can be in place for up to 18 months for a road or carriageway or six months for a footpath or cycleway.
A TTRO carries a much lighter requirement for consultation and advertisement and, unlike a TRO, cannot be objected to.
One of the circumstances that Section 14 (1) of the RTRA allows a TTRO to be made under is where the Roads Authority are of the opinion that there is a ‘likelihood of danger to the public’. In this case, the danger would be the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the need to therefore mitigate this risk.
Legal Services colleagues have confirmed that there is scope to apply this definition of a danger to the public.