Proposed Temporary Cycle Segregation – Lanark and Longstone/Inglis Green Road

The Council contacted me on Friday (25/09/20) to say they planned to install Temporary Cycle Segregation on Lanark and Longstone/Inglis Green Road. This is at the very edge of my Ward, and I only cover a small part of the scheme – The Lanark Road between Gillespie Crossroads and Hailes Avenue.

The plan is to: reduce the speed limit to 30mph; install segregated cycleways; make improvements to junctions along the road; introduce parking restrictions; install “Floating Bus Stops”; expand the bus lanes; and, remove pedestrian guardrails. 

The consultation is underway, and people have until 9th of October to respond (details below). I would urge residents who live in my Ward to copy me in to their response so that I can get an understanding of what the challenges and opportunities are. My e-mail address is Scott.Arthur@Edinburgh.Gov.UK

As it stands, I plan on making the following points:

  1. Specifically, what is the concern that triggered the use of Covid-19 guidance to propose these “Emergency Response Measures”.
  2. Detailed drawings of individual Floating Bus Stop designs must be shared for comment.
  3. A Road Safety Audit must be undertaken before work starts.
  4. A meeting with local residents must be held to address residual concerns. before any work gets underway.

The full briefing is below – this includes the plans and details on how to respond to the consultation.

Covid-19 Cycling and Walking Emergency Response Measures – Lanark and Longstone/Inglis Green Road

Please be advised that as part of overall emergency measures we are proposing to implement segregated cycleways on Lanark Road and Longstone/ Inglis Green Road to help pedestrians and cyclists travel safely while meeting physical distancing requirements. 

I have attached the proposed designs for the scheme.  In summary it shows:

  1. Introduction of uni-directional segregated cycleways along Lanark Road and Longstone Road
  2. Improvements to junctions along the road to make them safer for cyclists
  3. Introduction of waiting and loading restrictions along parts of Lanark and Longstone Road
  4. Introduction of Floating Bus Stops along Lanark Road
  5. Introduction of new sections of Bus Lane on the approach to key junctions
  6. Removal of pedestrian guardrail

Any comments relating to these proposals should be received by 1700 hrs on 9 October to spacesforpeople@edinburgh.gov.uk.

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 – spacesforpeople@edinburgh.gov.uk

The introduction of, or changes to, any restrictions will be implemented under emergency delegated decision-making powers using a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order.

Phase 1 of the Spaces for People Scheme on the A702

Phase 1 of the Spaces for People Scheme on the A702 looks to be more or less complete, and is being respected by most people. Issues from a cyclist (me) perspective:

  1. The new bus lane on the approach to Fairmilehead Crossroads is a bit of a free-for-all at times. A sign noting the hours of operation may help.
  2. Entering the cycle lane heading north after Pentland View is not easy due to the narrow/angled entry.
  3. There are no “wands” in place on the approach to Greenbank junction.
  4. . The wands make it far harder to merge with traffic when turning right.

The Council say it is committed to listening to suggestions from residents, drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and businesses on how the scheme can be improved. Please forward suggestions to spacesforpeople@edinburgh.gov.uk and feel free to copy me in (Scott.Arthur@Edinburgh.Gov.UK).

Image from @LTSI_Lesley on Twitter

Motion by Councillor Neil Ross – Quiet Route from Greenbank to the Meadows

There is a bit of confusion regarding the motion By Councillor Neil Ross (amended by the Tories) on the “Quiet Route from Greenbank to the Meadows”. The agreed text is below along with the Council Administraion’s amendment. In terms of Braid Road, the motion (Lib-Dem) called for a 3 month consultation. The Tory amendment called for a temporary reopening of the road whilst a three month(!) consultation got underway. The video of the debate can be seen here and my contribution is here.

The Motion

Council:

Notes the proposal for a Quiet Route from Greenbank to the Meadows involving six road closures in Morningside.

Notes the proposal has been made without notifying any residents living on or near the proposed route or permitting residents the opportunity to express their views on the proposals, either positive or negative, by way of public consultation. 

Notes the proposal claims to tackle rat-running traffic but does not address speeding traffic on Hermitage Drive or Midmar Drive.

Notes the proposal includes two options for Braid Road, either to remain closed or to re-open for southbound traffic only.

Notes that the Council is proposing to implement the scheme by means of a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order despite the fact that there is no evidence that local residents and users of the route have any difficulties meeting the social distancing rules on this route.

Notes that the Council’s Commonplace online ideas tool collected twice as much support for protected cycle lanes on Whitehouse Loan than for closing that road to motor vehicles.

Notes the condition of the road surface on the proposed route, apart from Whitehouse Loan, is generally poor, especially on Canaan Lane, Cluny Drive, Braidburn Terrace and at the Braid Avenue/Cluny Gardens crossroads.

Believes that the level of danger of the transmission of Covid-19 infection between cyclists and other road users on the proposed route is so low that it does not justify using the Council’s emergency powers to implement this scheme.

Believes that local residents should be allowed to express their views on traffic management and road use proposals in their communities and that their views should be taken into account before a decision is made on whether to implement such proposals.

Therefore proposes that the implementation of the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route using a temporary traffic regulation order should be paused and

instructs officers to hold an informal public consultation in the next three months with residents living on or near the proposed route and the school communities of James Gillespie’s High School and Primary School and NHS Lothian to identify levels of local support for:

The Tories changed the above paragraph to: Instructs officers to hold an informal public consultation in the next three months with residents living on or near the proposed route, relevant school communities in Wards 8 & Ward 10 including James Gillespie’s High School and Primary School and NHS Lothian to identify levels of local support for:

  1. the existing proposals for a Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route; and
  2. an alternative proposal for the same route, not involving road closures, to:
    • to gather any other practical suggestions from local residents with regard to this route that can be managed within existing budgets; and
    • prioritise future road re-surfacing of Braidburn Terrace, the Braid Avenue/Cluny Gardens crossroads and the relevant sections of Canaan Lane and Cluny Drive that are part of the route; and
    • introduce traffic calming measures along the length of Hermitage Drive and Midmar Drive;and
    • re-open Braid Road and use the time available before re-opening to re-surface the sections that are in poor condition and to install appropriate traffic calming measures, such as raising the road surface at road intersections and installing a pedestrian and cycle crossing near the entrance to the Hermitage and a chicane at the corner below the hotel.
    • The Tories changed the above to: Permanent re-opening of Braid Road including resurfacing, installation of appropriate traffic calming measures such as virtual speed humps, raising the road surface at road intersections, installing a pedestrian and cycle crossing near the entrance to the Hermitage and a chicane at the corner below the hotel, with Braid Road to be temporarily re-opened in both directions pending commencement and evaluation of the consultation in order to alleviate immediate concerns around traffic displacement and pollution.
  3. to gather any other practical suggestions from local residents with regard to this route that can be managed within existing budgets; and
  4. to draw up a report to the Transport and Environment Committee to present the results of the informal public consultation for consideration and further action.”

Council Administration Amendment

Deletes all (of the Lib-Dem Motion and replaces it with):
Notes that a proposal for a Quiet Route between Greenbank Crossroads and the Meadows, designed to establish a network of safe quiet streets using modal filters and to provide a safe cycleway from Fairmilehead to the city centre, will come forward to the Transport and Environment Committee on Nov 12th.

Notes that some of this proposal builds on suggestions from local community group ‘Blackford Safer Streets’.
Notes that stakeholder engagement has not yet begun ahead of the report on November 12th.

Recognises that there is considerable concern circulating in communities about the consultation process for Spaces for People projects already agreed to by this Council.

Notes that the agreed process includes a feedback mechanism for each project on issues raised by stakeholders, including community councils and elected ward members, as well as the stated intention to amend schemes post-implementation if appropriate (‘try and modify’ method).

Requests a meeting among all relevant ward councillors and transport spokespersons, convened by the Transport Convener, before Oct 3 to allow questions to be raised and for a comprehensive briefing on these proposals to be provided, including clarification on community consultation.

              

A702 Update – Bus Lanes, Traffic Lanes, Bus Stops and 40mph on Bigger Road

Below is an update on the A702 Spaces for People project. The main focus is safety issues associated Bus Stop Boarders (I wrongly called these floating bus stops previously), the new Bus Lane, the Bigger Rd speed limit and an issue at the Fairmilehead crossroads.

Bus Stop Boarders

Me: See attached (tweet in header image) from Living Streets on Bus Stop Boarders. Are these also off the table for the A702?
Council: “Bus Stop Bypasses are still proposed on the A702. These will be part of Phase 2”
Me: “Why are the bus stop boarders being removed from other schemes but not the A702?”
Council: We have decided to omit Bus Stop Bypasses from some schemes, this is primarily to reduce costs associated with delivering these. Broadly, the criteria we have applied are as follows:

If a road is: 20mph AND local or secondary AND serves less than 10 buses per hour, we will not generally use Bus Stop Bypasses. On these roads it will be reasonably safe for someone cycling to overtake a stopped bus. You will note that each of these applies for Pennywell Road; Causewayside and Buccleuch Street.

If however a road is 30mph (or more), OR; Strategic, OR; serves more than 10 buses per hour, we generally will use Bus Stop Bypasses.

There are some exceptions to the above and there will always be consideration of the site conditions – especially gradient. For example, we are not proposing Bypasses at bus stops in lay-bys on a downhill grade where people cycling do not need to change direction in order to overtake a stopped bus.

Comiston Road is a busy strategic route, has a speed limit of 30mph and at times a steep grade. Expecting people cycling to move into traffic in order to pass a stopped bus on a road like this – especially when travelling uphill – will significantly increase the risk, and limit the attractiveness of using this route by bike, especially to less confident and beginner cyclists.

The detail of our Bus Stop Bypass design will make clear to people cycling that they should give way to pedestrians, and that they should reduce their speed on the approach to bus stops.

You may be interested in the attached research reports looking at the operation of the Bus Stop Bypasses that have already been installed on Leith Walk between Pilrig Street and Macdonald Road. This research has been circulated to Transport Spokespersons for each party as well as relevant stakeholders (SPOKES; Living Streets; Edinburgh Access Panel; Edinburgh Bus Users Group).

The first is a report produced by Edinburgh Napier University which considers specifically the nature of the interactions between Pedestrians and Cyclists at these Bus Stop Bypasses during November 2017.

The second is a report produced by AECOM Ltd which considers several elements of the Leith Programme, including the Bus Stop Bypasses, Albert Place cycle-priority crossing, and Middlefield continuous footway. This report considers these elements against various indicators to provide an overall picture, across three assessment periods: November 2017; May 2018, and November 2018.

You will note that this monitoring demonstrates several interesting findings:

  • The overall number of people walking and cycling increased over the study period
  • The proportion of cyclists entering the footway, and pedestrians entering the cycleway decreased over time
  • The frequency, of interactions between people walking and cycling at the Bus Stop bypasses was very low with the vast majority of users not being involved in any form of interaction,
  • The typical severity of the interactions that did occur between people walking and cycling at bus stops was also very low, with most conflicts which did take place being minor in nature
  • These outcomes are consistent with other studies within the UK
  • Those conflicts which did occur were most often when cyclists and pedestrians were facing the same way and a pedestrian stepped into the cycleway. It is anticipated that installing cycleways with a level difference will reduce this type of conflict, and others, to even lower levels

I hope this is helpful, please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Me: Can you confirm which of the studied stops use the same design as proposed on Comiston Road? If the answer is “none”, does CEC have any data which explains specifically the nature of the interactions between pedestrians and cyclists? When you say “we have decided to omit Bus Stop Bypasses from some schemes”, can you be clear about who “we” is? I understand there was a meeting with the Edinburgh Access Panel and Living Streets etc last week. Were their views on these stops discussed? Can the notes from the meeting be shared?
Council: [awaiting reply]

New Bus Lane

Me: I am getting lots of general e-mails from constituents about the A702, but the new bus lane at Fairmilehead crossroads is an issue that keeps coming up. I had a look at it yesterday, and I could see that southbound drivers were quick to merge (in the rush for the lights) alongside cyclists where the cycle lane ends. I feel the original proposed design was safer for cyclists, but making the bus lane 24/7 would be an improvement. Local residents are requesting off-peak parking in the bus lane.  Can these three options be considered?
Council: We will look into extending Bus Lane operation hours to 7am – 7pm on both bus lanes on the affected section of the A702 (northbound and southbound) to protect cyclists outside peak hours. We will not be introducing off-peak parking as this would be incompatible with the bus lanes being safe for use by cyclist

Traffic Lanes on Biggar Road

Me: Northbound traffic on the Biggar Rd still forms in two lanes (see header image). This leads to a sudden merger of traffic as it enters Buckstone Terrace. Making the left-hand lane for left turning traffic only would be safer. Can this be considered?
Council: This is already part of the designs. I believe this will be don

Biggar Rd Speed Limit

Me: This must be the shortest section of 40mph road in Edinburgh and zero protection is offered to cyclists. Can we make it 30mph?
Council: I will liaise with our Road Safety Team. If this section is already proposed to be reduced to 30mph then I will look into delivering this as part of SfP.
Me: Yes, Biggar Rd was scheduled to be 30mph.

Braid Road Briefing – “A full re-opening of Braid Road is not proposed at this stage”

Updated 25th September
Below is the latest briefing from Council Officers on the closure of Braid Road. It is clear that unlike other roads traffic on Comiston Road is now at (or exceeds) pre-Covid levels (at least in part due to the Braid Rd closure). Traffic data is now being collected and will inform a review (yes, another one!) over the next week or two. This point and the briefing raises a number of questions which I have put to Council Officers. I posed these questions on the 1st of September, and alongside them below are the responses which I received yesterday (24th of September).

Spaces for Exercise – On the 23rd of July I was told: “It is my understanding that Braid Road was one of the initial schemes in first phases of lockdown and was to provide a safe route to a green area when people were only permitted 1 hour of exercise a day. As we have moved through the phases more schemes are required to assist in containing the virus. All schemes go through various approval processes so that we know how they affect each other and are reviewed. Braid Road has been reviewed on a number of occasions with minor changes being made but I believe that there will be another review soon in which a more significant change will be made.” What has changed to justify the closure continuing?
Council Response – Braid Road scheme was reviewed following collection of traffic count data and the report from this review will be circulated to ward Cllrs soon.

Suitable for Cyclists – At the Ward Liaison meeting on the 7th of August Council Officers acknowledged that Braid Road was not popular with cyclists due to its steepness. Now that the Comiston Road scheme is coming on line, what role does Braid Road play in “enabling safe cycling”?
Council Response – Counts from May show that on average around 600 cycle journeys per day are made on Braid Road. We will continue to monitor this once the Comiston Road scheme is complete to understand whether this use remains or is diverted. However, the closure of Braid Road also reduces the levels of traffic through the Braidburn / Cluny area which improves the safety of onward cycle journeys towards the city centre from the South which go through this area.

Supporting Comments – The brief says “Various parties have called for it to be reopened, while some have called for it to be made permanent.”. Is it fair to say that the majority of people contacting the Council on this issue want Braid Road reopened? How many of the 4000+ comments lodged on the Common Place Portal asked for Braid Road to be closed?
Council Response – Of the over 4,100 comments on the Commonplace site, there were 27 comments made relating to Braid Road, with 194 agreements. In respect of the road closure, the following is a summary of comments: (1) One comment requested the permanent closure with 30 agreements. (2) One comment was made with comments about allowing people coming in and out of the Hermitage to maintain a safe distance between each other whilst walking and/or cycling with 21 agreements. (3) One comment made reference to narrow footways at a section with people walking on the road if the road was opened with 19 agreements. (4) One comment requested that it become a dedicated cycle route with 9 agreements.

11th of August Recommendation – This said the “closure [will] remain in place with a further review following the implementation of both the Comiston Road Cycleways and Greenbank to Meadows Quite Route”.
To whom was this recommendation made, and which of the seven Morningside and Fairmilehead Councillors were consulted? Were Lothian Buses consulted at that point?
Council Response – This recommendation was made to the Spaces for People Board. No Councillors were consulted. Engagement did take place with Lothian Buses who did not express concern.
[Cllr Arthur – I have been informed separately that the recommendation was made to the Transport Convener – I received this on the 12th of August – “The Transport Convener has a briefing and our recommendation following our Design Risk Assessment review. Rurigdh should be able to offer the Councillors from both Wards an update this morning as soon as we receive a response.”]

Improved Bus Service Times – Can an analysis of the data on this be shared?
Council Response Colleagues within Lothian Buses have stated that service times are improving. Raw data on this has not been shared with the Council.

People choose different routes – The Council appears to suggest that the congestion on the A702 will force cars on to other routes and thereby reduce queuing. Is this not the type of “rat-running” we should be trying to avoid? Indeed, some residents have told me they have stopped using the bus, and now drive! Do we want people to stop taking the bus up town to use businesses there?
Council ResponseSome people may choose different routes than the A702, though there are limited other options available. Any impact on other routes will be considered should it cause problems.

Reclaiming City Streets for People – At the core of this report is making available good quality public transport. Is the Braid Road closure having a positive impact on bus journey times?
Council ResponseThis report establishes the principle of Traffic Disappearance – ie: Reducing network capacity generally leads to reduced traffic as people choose not to travel, or travel by other modes. Public Transport and other options such as walking and cycling play an important role here. We are in close liaison with Lothian Buses and are implementing protected cycleways. Both provide reasonable alternatives to private car for journeys along the A702 corridor.

Numerous actions to address recent traffic and congestion issues – This is reassuring, can these be listed along with their impact?
Council Response(1) Linking traffic lights at Greenbank Drive with those at Greenbank Crescent to ensure joint operation. (2) Installing cycle detection on Braidburn Terrace approach to Greenbank Crossroads in order to ensure this green phase is only called when required as traffic is no longer making this manoeuvre. This will add approximately 12s per cycle to the available green time across other movements.

Traffic Counts WB 31st of August – These are welcome, but will they quantify the delays to buses and allow a comparison with January 2018? Will any seasonal fluctuation in traffic volume be accounted for? Will pedestrian and cyclist numbers on Braid Road and Comiston Road be recorded?
Council ResponseCounts will not quantify delays to buses. There is no adjustment for seasonal variation. Ped and Cycle numbers will be recorded at Comiston Road. The counts duing w/c 31st Aug did not include Braid Road. However Braid Road has been included in the forthcoming counts to take place w/c 14th ad w/c 21st.  Counts took places on Braid Road during May immediately after the closure.

Options 1 & 2 – I feel it is a mistake not to consider the option of reopening the road completely (as a benchmark if nothing else). I also feel an additional scenario of Option 2 with two-way traffic should be considered. Can these be included?
Council ResponseA full re-opening can be considered at each review.

Consultation – Greater clarity is required on what part Ward Councillors will play in the decision making process, and how residents can make their views known.
Council Response We are following the notification and engagement process approved at the Policy and Sustainability Committee on 14 May and will be continuing to monitor the situation.

Summation – The briefing does not fully detail the benefits and consequences of continuing the closure of Braid Road beyond the completion of Phase 1 of the Comiston Road scheme. Should this case not be made if the closure is to continue? Has any Councillor suggested that Braid Road should remain closed indefinitely?
Council Response The case for continuing the closure is related to the reduction in traffic, this will be assessed through the ongoing traffic counts. At least one Councillor and numerous local residents have suggested keeping Braid Road closed indefinitely.
[Cllr Arthur – Edinburgh has 63 Councilors]

The Braid Road Briefing

Background
As part of the Council’s Spaces for People programme three individual related projects were developed, each aiming to remove through traffic from local streets, benefit pedestrians and enable safe cycling from the south of the city to the city centre. 

  1. Braid Road Closure (initially introduced as a Spaces for Exercise project)
  2. Comiston Road Segregated Cycleways
  3. Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route

Braid Road Closure has been in place since early May. Various parties have called for it to be reopened, while some have called for it to be made permanent.

The Comiston Road scheme will provide segregated cycleways along the A702 from Frogston Road to Greenbank Crescent. Construction of the cycleways commenced on Monday 24 August and is expected to be complete by Friday 11 September.

The proposed Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route aims to establish a network of safe quiet streets using modal filters between Greenbank Crossroads and the Meadows, thus providing a safe cycleway from Fairmilehead to the city centre. 

Braid Road
Braid Road was closed between the Best Western Hotel and Hermitage Drive. At this time Braidburn Terrace was designated One-Way Eastbound with a cycle contraflow. These interventions remove through traffic from many of the streets in the surrounding area by requiring most North-South trips to be made via the A702.

The Braid Road scheme was reviewed by the Design Review Group on 11 August 2020 and it was recommended that the closure remain in place with a further review following the implementation of both the Comiston Road Cycleways and Greenbank to Meadows Quite Route. (Scheme Review Form enclosed).

The main objections to the closure relate to concerns regarding the level of traffic on Comiston Road, and delays to bus journeys.

Traffic on Comiston Road
It is acknowledged that traffic levels on Comiston Road returned to roughly pre-Covid levels earlier than other arterial routes, and this may be a result of the closure of Braid Road. However, this is not the only factor which has affected traffic levels.  

During the week commencing 10th August there were roadworks on the A701 at Kaimes Crossroads which likely diverted additional traffic onto the A702. Unfortunately, these road works coincided with the schools returning resulting in delays, including significant delays to buses. However, following removal of the temporary traffic lights Lothian Buses have reported that service times are much improved.

In order to better understand the current traffic situation on Comiston Road the Council has commissioned traffic counts at Greenbank Crossroads and Morningside Station. These counts will take place WC 31 August with the results available next week. This data will be compared against counts from January 2018 for both Greenbank Crossroads and Braid Road, allowing us to accurately quantify the impact of the Braid Road closure on traffic on Comiston Road, and inform the next project reviews.

While it is likely that traffic will have diverted onto Comiston Road as a result of the closure of Braid Road – it will be important to consider whether overall levels of traffic on both streets has changed.

Furthermore, any increase in traffic on the A702 that has occurred can reasonably be expected to reduce over time as people choose different routes, or make more sustainable travel choices through the principle of ‘traffic disappearance’ as people adapt their behaviours.

[For more information on Traffic Disappearance see: Reclaiming City Streets for People by the European Commission]

Actions to Address Traffic on Comiston Road
The Council have taken numerous actions to address recent traffic and congestion issues on Comiston Road with further improvements planned.

The Council’s traffic signals teams adjusted the signals timings at the junctions with Greenbank Drive and Greenbank Crescent during the past week. This is expected to improve traffic flows.

During the coming fortnight it is proposed introduce a bicycle detection system to the Braidburn Terrace approach to Greenbank Crossroads. This street has been designated one-way, meaning there is no vehicular traffic entering the junction. However, the traffic lights have been continuing to provide a green light phase to this movement, resulting in lost time. Adjusting the traffic lights so that this green phase is only called when required is expected to significantly improve north-south traffic flow on Comiston Road by increasing the green time for these movements.

Delays to Buses
We have liaised closely with Lothian Buses regarding the impact of the Braid Road closure, and the interventions proposed for Comiston Road.

It has been reported that traffic is queueing in both directions from Greenbank Crossroads to an extent that causes delays to the bus services at peak times – especially following schools restarting during the week commencing 10 August.

Northbound it has been reported that queues are stacking back as far as Buckstone Terrace, which will cause delays to northbound buses. However, discussions with Lothian Buses have indicated that this is occasional, and that generally the queue does not extend further south than Comiston Springs Avenue, meaning buses can access the northbound Bus Lane and bypass the queue. (This is confirmed this week with Service 11 buses delayed at the 4 way TTLs at Lasswade Rd but not further delayed on Comiston Rd)

Southbound there are no bus lanes on the approach to this junction which mean that excess queueing will have a more immediate impact on buses. Throughout the week of the 10 August there were temporary traffic lights in place at Kaimes Crossroads on the A701. During this week there were significant queues on Comiston Road and the A702 which caused significant delays to bus services as a result of traffic transferring from the A701.  However, following the completion of these works Lothian Buses have advised that traffic has returned to the A701 and they are not experiencing significant delays on the A702 during the pm peak.

Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route 
The Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route is the second half of the proposed route from Frogston Road to the city centre. It will run along quiet roads parallel to Morningside Road.

In order to implement this proposed route road closures would be introduced at various locations to remove through traffic. 

At its southern end the route runs along Hermitage Avenue 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 proposed Greenbank to Meadows QR has been designed so as to cut out rat-running traffic from streets between Cluny Gardens and Comiston Road with strategic closures shown in the map overleaf (below). This would include diagonal closures at the junctions of Braid Road & Braid Crescent, and the junction of Cluny Drive & Hermitage Gardens, as well as a modal filter on Braid Avenue. With Braid Road closed, these further interventions would effectively eliminate traffic cutting through residential streets between Cluny Gardens and Comiston Road.

As part of Greenbank to Meadows QR It is also proposed to introduce two closures on Whitehouse Loan. One immediately south of Strathearn Road, the other immediately south of Bruntsfield Crescent. These closures will enable safe cycling on Whitehouse Loan and reflect proposals which have been put forward by local community group ‘Blackford Safer Streets’.

Braid Road – Options
Options considered for the current Braid Road closure. 

Option 1 – Retain Closure – This option retains the maximum level of provision for walking and cycling and – alongside Greenbank to Meadows QR – removes through traffic from the greatest number of residential streets. Strategic diagonal closures at several points make it all but impossible to cut through between Cluny Gardens and Comiston Road, without having undue impact on residents’ ability to access the road network by car.

Option 2 – One-Way Southbound – Opening Braid Road to southbound traffic only would be a reasonable alternative on completion of the road safety cycle segregation and resurfacing works. There is no Southbound bus lane on Comiston Road, meaning that queueing traffic heading south on the A702 has a greater impact on buses than the reverse. 

However, Option 2 requires that through traffic is permitted to travel between Cluny Gardens and Braid Road via some residential streets. Through traffic will tend to route along Midmar Avenue where it is worth noting that residential properties are only on one side, and so traffic will affect the minimal number of households.

Full Re-Opening – A full re-opening of Braid Road is not proposed at this stage, though could still be considered at a further review as the Spaces for People Programme continues.

Option 1 and Option 2 are shown below, along with a table outlining their respective costs and benefits, and where appropriate the mitigations for these.

Next Steps
A further review of all options will be considered in more detail in 2/3 weeks when information regarding traffic counts and traffic light sequencing changes has been received.

Option 1
Benefits:

  1. Greatest improvement for people walking and cycling
  2. Through traffic removed from all streets between Cluny Gdns and Comiston Rd
  3. Contribution to Traffic Reduction

Costs

  1. Some increase in traffic on Comiston Road (impact on residents as well as road-users)
  2. Some impact on bus delays  on Comiston Road
  3. Less resilience in case of emergency road closure on A702

Mitigations/ Caveats

  1. Traffic increase appears to be minor (TBA)
  2. Bus delays appear to be minor
  3. Both will continue to be monitored
  4. Traffic likely to fall over time Closure can be reversed in emergency 

Option 2
Benefits:

  1. Reduce impact on southbound traffic on Comiston Road
  2. Reduce impact on southbound buses on Comiston Road

Costs

  1. Less provision for people walking and cycling
  2. Through Traffic reintroduced on Midmar Avenue and Hermitage Dr
  3. Additional measures required on Hermitage Drive to provide safe cycling route –impact on parking (for segregation) and additional expense
  4. Reduced opportunity for traffic disappearance

Mitigations/ Caveats

  1. Coherent route still deliverable – though at slightly greater expense
  2. Small number of households affected
  3. Braid Road still closed northbound


Confirmed – Bus trips home from Boroughmuir High School are being routinely delayed by 60 minutes.

This week I have received consistent reports that bus trips home from Boroughmuir High School are taking up to 90 minutes (i.e. slower than walking). I contacted the Interim MD of Lothian Buses, Nigel Serafini, yesterday to get his perspective – his response is below.

You will see that he is clear that “delays to services of up to 60 minutes” have meant timetables have been “rendered redundant.” The cause is “significantly increased” traffic volumes, roadworks and “new road management measures”.

An efficient public transport system is key to getting our city out of the economic slump caused by Covid-19. These delays will only force people out of buses and into cars, a move that will only exacerbate the delays and damage Edinburgh’s tentative recovery. I have passed Nigel Serafini’s e-mail to the Spaces for People team so it can be considered as part of the review of the Braid Road closure.

I am well aware of the stress these delays are causing people using the route – particularly S1 pupils are their parents. I have spent the last couple of mornings looking at traffic around Greenbank (see herehere), and on Monday (weather permitting) I hope to look at the evening rush hour as I understand that is when delays are worst. 

Update from CEC – “I have discussed this with colleagues in Lothian Buses who have advised that these delays are primarily due – as they see it – to the Temporary Traffic Lights at Kaimes Crossroads which started on Monday and finish today, pushing traffic from the A701 to the A702. As such we might reasonably expect the traffic situation to improve next week assuming the TTL operation at Kaimes is complete.

Nigel Serafini:
In planning for the return of schools we increased service levels and provided additional journeys on corridors where we anticipated capacity issues. In addition to these measures we have provided for back-up vehicles and drivers to be deployed as and when we encounter unexpected customer uplifts. This has worked successfully throughout the many phases of lockdown and more recently as schools have re-opened fully. Unfortunately the effectiveness of these measures has been impaired by a number of external factors outwith our control.

Road traffic volumes have significantly increased this week coinciding with increased roadworks and new road management measures across the city. This has led to significant congestion and delays to services of up to 60 minutes, causing planned timetables to be rendered redundant. As traffic has slowed, loadings have become heavier and additional journeys have been unable to be in the right place and time to cater for school exit times. We are currently re-working timetables to try and mitigate some of these issues by introducing short workings on some timetables to allow a measure of flexibility.

As you will be aware, the compulsory wearing of face coverings on public transport is currently not enforceable by our staff and where family groups or those in ‘social bubbles’ are allowed to travel/sit together we cannot restrict numbers. We have never been asked by the local authority to provide dedicated school transport but we continue to monitor customer numbers and will adjust timetables/frequency’s over the coming days/weeks until hopefully traffic conditions begin to improve.

Comiston Road & Braid Road SfP Project – Update following Ward Cllr Liaison Meeting

Below is an update from Council Officers following Friday’s meeting. I understand that the Transport Convener had a briefing following the “Design Risk Assessment Review” and based on this the project was permitted to proceed without a Road Safety Audit being undertaken. I am disappointed that this briefing has not been shared with Councillors which represent the area, and that we were not involved in the decision making process. The request for a meeting with residents has also went unanswered.

Update 1 [12-08-2020] – I asked about the target date for completing the works which will trigger the next Braid Road review: “It is difficult to give an exact date at the moment. W e intend to take the Greenbank Crossroads to Meadows scheme to Notification next week. Assuming it is approved for delivery the following week we would then work with a contractor to develop a programme for delivery. Once we have a better idea of timelines I will be happy to circulate an update.”

Update 2 [14-08-2020] – “This is just a quick email to let you know that our start date on Comiston Road has been pushed back slightly to Thursday 20th of August. The reason for this is that Markon – the lining contractor – have experienced some unexpected difficulties on certain parts of the Ferry Road Spaces for People scheme where they are currently working.

Update 3 [17-08-2020] – I have still not seen the updated plans for the project, but I understand the total cost is £115,000. Lothian Buses are saying they will only have 250mm clearance on the route – Perhaps if the Council had undertaken the Road Safety Audit as I requested this would have been spotted.

Update 4 [20-08-2020] – (1) The project is now delayed until WB 24-08-2020 due to “snagging issues on Ferry Road”. (2) A further review of the Braid Road closure has been agreed. Thankfully, this will do what we have all wanted for some time and will consider the interaction with the Comiston Road scheme. (3) I now have the updated plans and they are linked below – the key change appears to be the loss of parking outside Scottish Water’s offices to accommodate a bus lane.

Update following Ward Cllr Liaison Meeting
Comiston Road
A design risk review has been undertaken endeavouring to consider all points of concern that have been raised regarding the project designs, and the Designers Risk Assessment has been updated accordingly.

The designs have been updated slightly in some places to respond to this, namely:

  • The bus stop adjacent to Braid Hills Road in Phase 2 has been slightly relocated further from the junction to improve visibility splays
  • Parking bays have been widened to 2.5m
  • The cycle crossing of Comiston Springs Avenue has been updated to provide clear priority for cycles over turning vehicles

In addition, in response to suggestions from Lothian Buses we are now proposing to introduce a Bus Lane southbound on the approach to the Frogston/ Oxgangs Road crossroads.

I will circulate updated Phase 1 and 2 designs shortly.

Construction of Phase 1 of Comiston Road will now commence on Monday 17 August. The delay is due to minor delays experienced by the contractor on completing the Ferry Road Spaces for People scheme where they are currently working.

Braid Road
A review of the Braid Road closure has taken place. It has been decided that Braid Road will remain closed at least until after the implementation of both the Comiston Road cycleway, and the continuing route between Greenbank Crossroads and the Meadows. At such a time as both of these projects have been implemented and bedded in a further review of Braid Road will take place giving full consideration to the traffic situation at that time.

Update – Meeting with Council Officers to discuss the proposals for Comiston Road (Buckstone/Pentland Terrace)

I had a useful meeting with Council Officers today from 2pm to 4pm to discuss the proposals for Comiston Road (Buckstone/Pentland Terrace). Of the 7 Councillors along the route, the following took part: Cllrs Doggart, Rust & Watt. Cllr Main joined the discussions just as they concluded, and Cllrs Cook & Ross could not make it. The Transport Convener, Cllr Lesley MacInnes, also could not make it.

The tone adopted by the Council Officers was conciliatory and they recognized that there was some unease about what is planned. They stated that the consultation generated 36 supportive comments, but were less clear on how many were against (a claim “100 plus” went unchallenged).

General points:

  1. Once this route is complete, they hope to connect Greenbank Church to the Meadows using “quiet streets”.
  2. They have no cycle / pedestrian data for Comiston Road.
  3. They have tried to limit the loss of parking spaces.
  4. It was stated that placing a cycle path between the footpath and parking spaces is “uncommon” in Edinburgh.
  5. Lothian Buses were not consulted, but a meeting was held yesterday and they were reported as being “content”. Some details on the size of bus stops is being clarified – this is for busy stops and for wheelchair users.
  6. Phase 1 will see the cycle lanes stop 15m before bus stops.
  7. The waste team have been consulted (bin collections) as well as the road gritting team.
  8. It was clear that the Council does not plan to undertake a “Road Safety Audit” until after Phase one of the works are compete(!).
  9. Once complete, the scheme will be reviewed on a three week cycle.
  10. It was asserted that the measures may become permanent in some form.

The issues I focused were the lack of detailed risk assessments, plans for Braid Road & the failure to address safety concerns of residents living along the route.

I was clear that the Council needs to undertake a Road Safety Audit and meet with residents along the route before the plans are finalized. There was no vote, but I think most (if not all) Councillors agreed with this (as did the Fairmilehead Community Council Rep). This request will be discussed with the Director of Place on Monday.

Braid Road was due to be considered today but the meeting was cancelled due to ill-health. However, we were told “all options are on the table”.

Useful links:
Comiston Road Consultation
Comiston Road Consultation Report
Comiston Road Phase 1 & 2

Update from the Council on the proposed changes to Comiston Road (AKA Buckstone/Pentland Terrace)

Below is an update from the Council on the proposed changes to Comiston Road (AKA Buckstone/Pentland Terrace) – it takes the form of an invite to a meeting on Friday.

 I am disappointed that I have been given less than two day’s notice of this meeting and that work will start just four working days after that despite the acceptance that there are many unanswered questions.

I have asked if residents or the Community Council will be permitted to attend the meeting. Additionally, I have asked again if a copy of the Road Safety Audit be made available to Councillors.

06.08.20 Update 1 – The Council have not yet provided the Road Safety Audit but they have forwarded the “Designers Risk Assessment for this project”. Please let me know if you want any risks added:

06.08.20 Update 2 – The Council have agreed to my request that Community Councils attend the meeting, but have refused to let local residents contribute: “It was agreed at an early stage that the SfP programme would not be subject to the normal consultation processes and instead would focus on expedited engagement with Stakeholders – including ward Cllrs and other key groups such as Community Councils. Residents are not invited to attend the meeting.”

06.08.20 Update 3 – The Council have confirmed there is little scope to change the plans: “…the intention of the meeting is to answer questions on the project. The project designs have been amended in several locations following the notifications process, mostly to increase the amount of available on street parking and also to reduce the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph.”

Briefing
Please accept this invitation to a Microsoft Teams meeting to discuss the Comiston Road Spaces for People project.

As you are aware this project was approved by the Council’s CIMT for delivery on the 17th of July. Following approval for delivery we have been working on appointing a contractor for Phase 1 of this scheme which will involve lining and ‘Orange Cylinders’ in advance of full delivery later in Autumn.

This project is due to commence on site on Thursday 13 August and will be the second to be delivered from the ‘Travelling Safely’ section of Spaces for People, following Ferry Road which commenced on site on Monday 3August.

We are aware of various queries and concerns which have been raised by local councillors and residents regarding this project. The aim of this meeting will be to answer questions on the project proposals, and outline the anticipated project programme moving forward.

For ease I have attached the post CIMT Notification Letter for this project, which includes the approval form. You can also find the designs for Phase 1, and Phase 2 at the links below.

We hope that you are able to join us and that you find this meeting interesting and useful.

Phase 1 – Commencing Thursday 13th Aug

Phase 2 – Commencing later in Autumn

Thanks a lot, we look forward to speaking with you soon.

Briefing – Phased reopening of schools in Edinburgh.

Below is a briefing from Council Officers on the phased reopening of schools in Edinburgh.

You will be aware the Scottish Government last week confirmed the opening of schools in August for all pupils. Headteachers and staff in schools as well as Facilities Management staff have been working to ensure the enhanced arrangements to ensure safety are fully in place.

Teaching staff return formally on Monday 10 August for two in service days and pupils will be welcomed back in a phased approach over the following three days.

The plans for primary, secondary and special schools are as follows:
Primary schools will receive pupils with surnames beginning with letters A-L on Wednesday 12 August, and with surnames M-Z on Thursday 13 August with all pupils returning full time on Friday 14 August.

Secondary schools will adopt a different model taking account of their circumstances. All S1 pupils will attend on Wednesday 12 August and other year groups will attend during the week for full days. All secondary pupils will attend full time from Monday 17 August at the latest.

Special schools will return to classes from Wednesday 12 August. Each school will offer an individual model of phased return with all learners back in school full-time from Monday 17th August at the latest.

Parents are being informed in a letter being issued to them today (Wednesday 5 August) by Alistair Gaw, Executive Director for Communities and Families (linked below). This will be published on the Council’s website with specific details being communicated by Secondary Headteachers to parents thereafter.

Each school is being prepared to ensure all measures required by Scottish Government are fully in place to meet the safety requirements for staff, children and young people.

More detailed information on the opening of schools is available in the Local Delivery Phasing Plan which is currently published and will be discussed at Policy and Sustainability Committee on Thursday 6 August 2020.