Briefing – Traffic Figures for Comiston Road following the Braid Road Closure.

Braid Road. Photo: Martin P. McAdam http://www.martinmcadam.com

Below is a briefing on traffic volumes on Comiston Road before and after the Braid Road closure. It was drafted by the Council in late September, but not shared with me(!). I only found out about it when a local resident raised some questions about the content!

Traffic Figures for Comiston Road
It is noted that traffic levels at Morningside Station are at, near or marginally above the levels seen pre-Covid. This is shown in the traffic levels dashboard collected weekly, the most recent available data is below.

This is supported by recent counts of the junction compared with counts carried out in 2018 which produce the following comparison showing that although levels of traffic at this location are currently above 2019 levels, they are below levels seen in January 2018 by around 5%.

 Morningside Station
Jan 2018 Avg Weekday Traffic16854
Sep 2020 Avg Weekday Traffic16067
Change-787
Change %-5%

It is likely that part of the reason Morningside Station has seen traffic return to roughly normal, while some other streets continue to see reduced levels of traffic, is due to the closure of Braid Road, diverting some traffic onto the A702.

Counts at Greenbank Crossroads suggest that the A702 corridor is seeing a slight increase in vehicle numbers. However, this increase is far smaller than the number of vehicles that have been removed from Braid Road, so overall levels of traffic in the vicinity are still notably less than they were pre-Covid.

 Comiston RoadBraid RoadOverall
Jan 2018 Avg Weekday Traffic15447.59485.524933
Sep 2020 Avg Weekday Traffic17063017063
Change1615.5-9485.5-7870
Change %10%-100%-32%

While traffic on Comiston Road is 10% higher than the pre-Covid baseline, 17,063 vehicles per day, compared with 15,448 vehicles per day, the increase on the A702 corridor is far smaller than the amount of traffic previously recorded using Braid Road; 9,486 vehicles per day.

The overall level of traffic on these two corridors is 32% less than pre-Covid levels. This means that the general level of traffic which has returned to these corridors (68% of pre-Covid) is less than the level across the city (80-90%), suggesting that the closure has achieved a level of traffic reduction/ evaporation.

It is considered to be a significant risk that re-opening Braid Road at this stage would induce additional journeys by car, thus adding to the overall level of traffic in the area.

However, there is also a risk that if traffic across the city returns to normal levels then traffic on Comiston Road may continue to grow, possibly increasing public transport journey times and reducing air quality. Therefore, traffic levels will continue to be monitored at Morningside Station and Greenbank Junction and will inform decisions relating to existing and proposed interventions. We will also continue to liaise closely with Lothian Buses on a regular basis regarding the impact of the Braid Road closure on bus routes on the A702 corridor.

The completion of roadworks on the A701 has reduced the impact of diverted traffic and modifications to the traffic lights at the junctions of Greenbank Crescent and Greenbank Drive should improve the junction efficiency, mitigating the impact on bus journey times and reducing queueing times for all vehicles.

The road closure at Braid Road and introduction of a one-way street (except cyclists) on Braidburn Terrace has significantly reduced through traffic in the Hermitage Drive/ Braid Avenue/Midmar Drive area.

The development of the proposed Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Connection will consider feedback from local residents and Elected Members. Ongoing reviews of the current Braid Road closure will also consider any negative impact on the Comiston Road corridor and local residential areas. The final decision for this proposed scheme will be considered in the round taking account of any impacts holistically.

At its southern end the Quiet Route will run along Hermitage Drive between Braid Road and Hermitage Gardens. With Braid Road closed this link is lightly trafficked, however, were Braid Road opened this might require further intervention to ensure it was safe. 

The Quiet Connection has been designed to cut out ‘rat-running’ traffic from streets between Cluny Gardens and Comiston Road with strategic closures. This would include diagonal closures, continuing to allow access for local traffic and services, at the junctions of Braid Road and Braid Crescent, and the junction of Cluny Drive and Hermitage Gardens, as well as a modal filter on Braid Avenue. If Braid Road remains closed, these further closures would effectively eliminate through traffic cutting through residential streets between Cluny Gardens and Comiston Road, whilst allowing local access to both roads.

In addition, as part of the Braid Road, Road Safety Improvement Scheme, significant resurfacing from the Braid Hills Road junction to a point near Hermitage of Braid will now begin on 12 October for a period of three weeks and will, principally, take place within the existing road closure although restrictions about Braid Farm Road and Braid Hills Road will also be required. A further area of resurfacing at the junction of Braid Road and Cluny Gardens, being co-ordinated with SGN works, has also been rescheduled to begin on 21 September 2020 for a period of three weeks.

As previously stated, traffic levels will continue to be monitored to ensure that any potentially negative impacts of interventions can be considered and dealt with whilst also taking into account the benefits that the holistic approach to managing traffic in the area will realise.

Next Steps
The review of the current closure on Braid Road is continuing and further traffic counts will take place to assess both the continuing traffic levels on Comiston Road, and the level of cycle and pedestrian use of Braid Road.

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