Following the recent consultation, the Council has now published its proposals for the Spaces for People Schemes. The report was published at 6:30pm yesterday – hours after it was given to the press.
The key messages appear to be:
- Removal of “shopping street” measures for pedestrians;
- Cycle routes to remain; and
- School schemes face uncertainty.
No scheme will be made permanent yet, but will instead be converted from a TTRO (Temporary) to a ETRO (Experimental) – this will mean that changes can be made on an ongoing basis and that the public will be consulted more fully.
Details are below for the schemes which touch on my Ward.
Across the city, these were perhaps the post popular SfP schemes. The Council is proposing to “retain those schemes that have the support of school communities when public health guidance changes”. By the end of 2021 “it is proposed to re-prioritise the School Travel Plan review and work with schools which have had part time vehicle prohibitions under SfP, with a view to developing measures tailored to the individual schools and which have support from the school concerned and the parents”.
The new path installed at St Mark’s RC Primary School will be made permanent. Good!
The Council acknowledges that there was “significant net support for removal” of this scheme. It is proposed that this scheme will be retained, however, as the measures have “reduced the effective road width and facilitated the introduction of a 30mph speed limit”. Parking along the route will be reviewed with a view to increasing capacity.
As with Lanark Road, the Council acknowledges that there was “significant net support for removal” of this scheme. It is proposed that this scheme will be retained, however, as the measures have “reduced the effective road width and facilitated the introduction of a 30mph speed limit”. This is ironic as reducing the limit was not part of the initial proposal, but was requested by me after comments from local residents.
Parking along the Route will be reviewed with a view to increasing capacity.
It is also proposed to “consider extending the existing bus lane southwards”. This is to address the recently reported northbound queuing on the approach to the Greenbank junction. This should also mean that vehicles waiting to turn right can be more easily passed.
The Council notes “the Braid Road closure attracted the highest level of net support for removal in both the public consultation and market research, though there was also a significant level of support for retention” – it attracted the highest net level of demand for removal.
The Council notes, however, that since the consultation started Braid Road reopened southbound – “the road has subsequently been reopened to motorised traffic southbound, with new protected cycle lanes provided. This reopening should reduce southbound congestion on Morningside Road, which had increased in association with the closure.”
There is still, however, a lack of coherence between the Braid Road and Comiston Road schemes. We are also being told that the Braid Road restrictions are needed as it “facilitates the Meadows to Greenbank cycling Quiet Connection”, but at the consultation stage for this scheme we were told this wasn’t the case!
No change is proposed, but a commitment is given to “monitor traffic levels and journey times on Comiston Road to inform future mitigation measures/decisions”.
Whether people love the SfP scheme or hate it, there can be no doubt that it has not been handled well. It’s very clear that some were only too happy to exclude the public from the debate. Whilst some schemes may well be popular, there is not much in this report that shows that Council is willing to engage constructively with the public in Edinburgh on the issue. Rather than winning hearts and minds, they are bulldozing opinion related to Braid Road, Comiston Road & Lanark Road.
For me, the big issue is the Comiston Road / Braid Road scheme and the failure to deal with them as in integrated corridor. These roads run closely together (200m apart at the most) but we are faced with a botched cycle schemes on each route. I’d rather the council did Braid Road well for cyclists, and provided better support for buses on Comiston Road.
The Comiston Road SfP scheme in particular is an issue for me. Before SfP the most dangerous spot was around Buckstone Shops. This has not changed. All the SfP bollards installed there have now been removed as they have been “struck by passing traffic on multiple occasions”. I asked if this meant “bollards are being removed where cyclists need them most?”, and SfP did not reply.
I remain hopeful, however, that the ETRO process will mandate the Council to listen to residents and give them a greater say on the future of these schemes. Before that happens, however, the Council needs to show some humility and admit avoidable mistakes have been made.