23-12-2020 Update – My consultation response.
Below is my response to the Quiet Route consultation.
I don’t know anyone who seriously opposes the quiet route concept. It is clear, however, that many people living along the route have concerns about the detail of the design. It’s disappointing that, in the eight months since lockdown began, more resources have not been made available to engage with residents living along the route. Indeed, there is no doubt that community engagement is important as it leads to improved outcomes on infrastructure projects. It increases acceptance of decisions as local knowledge from diverse groups shapes and creates inclusive, effective solutions.
Greater acceptance of the scheme may be possible if the evidence base for it is shared. It’s disappointing that in the eight months since lockdown began this has not happened.
The Fairmilehead area interfaces with two Spaces for People schemes – those on Buckstone/Pentland Terrace and Braid Road. These schemes have struggled to gain widespread public support due to (1) the lack of community engagement, (2) failure to share the evidence base that justifies their existence and (3) the decision to view both of these as separate units. Pre-Covid, the need to better connect Morningside and Fairmilehead for those able to walk and cycle was clear. Rather than responding to the Covid crisis by working with the community to establish one good quality route we could all be proud of, the Council has stretched limited resources between two schemes and lost the trust of local residents. It is notable that many of those who signed the petition calling for the reopening of Braid Road actually live on or near it. Indeed, it is only now that data is being collected to understand how these schemes interoperate.
Within this context, I find the decision to view the (1) Quiet Route, (2) Braid Roads and (3) Buckstone/Pentland Terrace schemes separately as difficult to justify to residents in my Ward. If these schemes truly are to form a route for cyclists between Fairmilehead and the Meadows, there they should be viewed as one and residents should be consulted on the formation of a single coherent route which does not impact negatively on public transport or any local school.
In terms of accessibility, many disabled people depend on cars (both to drive and as a passenger) and taxis. Road changes shouldn’t prevent disabled people from being able to stop near their destination. Changes to usual travel patterns can add to anxiety for all of us, but to some disabled people in particular. The scheme should therefore be seen in this context – continual changes should therefore be avoided where possible, and should be effectively communicated to the public (including disabled people).
Steps should be taken to remind residents along the route of the hazard parked cars and overgrown hedges (etc) pose to pedestrians and those with buggies/wheelchairs/guide dogs. This is particularly important on the streets surrounding the schools.
I have received a message from the Council saying that “For clarification, the Greenbank to Meadows measures do not include the closure of Braid Road, this is a separate scheme…”. This is despite the Braid Road closure being highlighted on the Quiet Route map (above) and the Council report on the Quiet Route saying:
The Spaces for People review of the measures on Braid Road recommends retaining its closure. This assessment has considered the scheme relationship with both Comiston Road and with the proposals for the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Connection… and later… The current recommendation is to continue with the closure of Braid Road and monitoring of traffic flows on Comiston Road (currently average +11%).Spaces for People Team, November 2020
I asked if the Quiet Route could proceed without the closure of Braid Road and was told: “The opening of Braid Road would have significant issues but these could be addressed if required. So yes, the QR could proceed.”
I asked why Braid Road was currently closed and was told:
1. to improve distancing opportunities and road safety at popular exercise spots. to provide spacious alternativesSpaces for People Team on why Braid Road was closed.
2. to paths and routes that are busy with pedestrians and cyclists to safely link together off-road walking and cycling routes
3. to provide spaces for exercising that are safe from traffic.
Last week I reported that I had discovered that the Council had been running a consultation on the Braid Road closure but did not notify me or people in my Ward. This was because, technically, the closure is outside my Ward! Morningside Ward Councillors had been notified, and I only found out about it when one (Cllr Main) tweeted about it (see screenshot it the foot of this blog). The consultation closed last Tuesday, but I have asked for more time so people in my Ward can learn more about how the closure fits into the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route. The Council have agreed that the consultation will reopen for people in my Ward up until 1700hrs on Wednesday 23rd December 2020 via email@example.com. Feel free to copy me into your response, and I will draft a combined submission.
The consultation text is below, and a map of the scheme is above.
Personally, I don’t think the case for using Covid Powers to close Braid Road has been made and that the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route can succeed without it. Whilst James Gillespie’s Primary School will certainly benefit from the quiet route, closing Braid Road simply forces more traffic past South Morningside Primary School.
Proposed Temporary Cycle Segregation – Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route
Please be advised that as part of overall emergency measures we are proposing to implement improvements to help pedestrians and cyclists travel safely while meeting physical distancing requirements.
This scheme proposes to create a safe cycling route between the south of the city and the city centre, as well as providing a safe way to walk and cycle to school for several primary schools and one high school. It also improves options for safe cycling to Astley Ainslie Hospital. To achieve this, modal filters (where the street is closed to vehicular traffic) are proposed at the following locations:
- Canaan Lane north of the Astley Ainslie hospital access;
- Whitehouse Loan immediately south of the junction with Strathearn Road;
- Whitehouse Loan immediately south of the junction with Bruntsfield Crescent; and
- Whitehouse Loan immediately north of the junction with Warrender Park Road.
All feedback will be reviewed and where possible the scheme will be further refined. Feedback will be summarised in an assessment feedback form which will be presented to the Council Incident Management Team for approval. Please note that we will be unable to respond to individual emails.
If the proposal is approved for implementation, publicity will then be undertaken so that local people are aware of the changes. A dedicated inbox will help us to manage any feedback around proposals – firstname.lastname@example.org
The introduction of, or changes to, any restrictions will be implemented under emergency delegated decision-making powers using a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order.