Notification of further engagement on Lanark Road Spaces for People measures

Below is an update from Council Officers on what’s planned next for Lanark Road. I am concerned that CEC proposes presenting solutions to Community Councils and residents with the aim of gaining feedback. I feel a better process would be to engage with residents/businesses to understand what they feel the challenges/opportunities are, and then use the outputs to generate designs for feedback.

I have also raised concerns as it appears that only those residents living on the Lanark Road will have a say. I feel this should be expanded to include businesses and addresses on adjacent streets.

Briefing

As you will be aware we recently completed a consultation exercise on the potential retention of Spaces for People measures. This was followed by the publication of the report on keeping these measures, which was considered at the meeting of the city’s Transport and Environment Committee on 17 June. The decision to retain or remove measures was based on consultation results, independent market research, a review by technical officers and consideration of how well such changes fit with the Council’s long-term transport policy objectives.

At this meeting it was agreed that a final decision on moving forward with the schemes should be made at the 24 June meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council.

Council motion on Lanark Road
The Council voted to approve the report, with requests from Councillors to revisit the infrastructure and design of the Lanark Road corridor. Officers have been asked to engage with Lanark Road residents and local Community Councils to:

  • achieve cycle speed mitigation measures
  • reconsider parking provision where parking spaces sit outside protected cycle lanes, with a view to mitigating potential conflict and safety concerns as soon as practicable on the ground

To help us make more informed decisions, we are also currently monitoring traffic through the area, using cross-modal counters. You can read the full motion here.

We are now commencing with the required engagement with Community Councils and Local Residents – this engagement will take place over the coming weeks through the following means.

Meeting with Community Councils
Council officers are now developing proposed revisions to the cycle lanes on Lanark Road which aim to address concerns regarding cycle speed, and conflict at floating parking bays. We will discuss these proposals with representatives from the relevant Community Councils and have invited two representatives from each to attend an online discussion forum next week. At this meeting we will present a number of proposed changes and seek feedback and input on cycle speed mitigation and parking provision.

Residents’ survey
The outcomes of this meeting in terms of proposals will be detailed in a survey on the Council’s website, which will be circulated to residents on Lanark Road via letter drop. This will allow us to gather a good sample of opinion in the local area in relation to the changes proposed.

The results of survey will help us to mitigate the concerns which have been voiced regarding this scheme and will sit alongside the results from the previous consultation when elected members decide on whether this scheme should be retained in the longer term.

Follow up meeting with Community Councils
Ahead of the publication of the report in early September, and following the resident survey, we will reconvene the same group of Community Councils to discuss the findings from the survey. At this meeting officers will present a summary of the feedback from the Survey and outline officers proposals to be considered at the September meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee.

We hope that you find this information useful, please let us know if you have any questions.

Briefing – 21/22 Edinburgh Garden Waste Registration

Below is a briefing from the Council on the “Garden Tax”. The key change is a 40% price hike, but the exemptions I argued for have been retained. There will also be more flexibility for some people on how registration works. Promoting the scheme as outlined in Section 5 will cost £70,000.

Edinburgh Garden Waste Collection Briefing 2021/22

1.0 Introduction
The paid garden waste collection service is approaching its fourth year, with the main registration window opening on 22 July. This briefing note provides background on the service, the registration window, how we are communicating with customers and the key dates around this.

2.0 Key Dates

DateEvent
2021/22 Main registration opens22 July at 10am (runs for 6 weeks)
2021/22 Main registration closes1 September at 2pm
Letter, with permit and calendar, landBetween 25 October and 3 November
Current 2020/21 collection year ends7 November
New 2021/22 collection year starts8 November
Missing letters (permits) to be reportedAs soon as possible after 3 November and before 3 December
Mid-year window opens 1 December at 10am
Service suspended From 20 December until 16 January
Mid-year registrations processedMonthly (see section 4 below for more details)
Mid-year registration closesAt least 31 May 2022 (longer is being investigated, see section 4 below for more details)
2021/22 collection year ends6 November 2022

3.0 The Service
Any residential household within Edinburgh can register for the garden waste service during the registration windows.

Customers who sign up receive a fortnightly collection. The service runs from 8 November 2021 until 6 November 2022, with no collections between 20 December and 16 January. The festive break in service allows us to divert resources to other recycling and waste streams during the busy festive period.  

The cost of the service is £35 per bin. This is a price increase from the previous £25. This is the first price increase since the charge was introduced in 2018 and is required to ensure the Council can cover its costs for delivering this collection service. The price increase was approved at Council in February 2021.

A customer can sign up during the mid-year registration window however the cost will remain at £35 and the permit will run until the end of this service year, which is 6 November 2022.

3.1 Exemptions
Exemptions from paying were established at the introduction of the charge and these continue. A customer can request an exemption if they receive Council Tax Reduction (formerly called Council Tax Benefit) or are classed, or live with someone who has been classed as, severely mentally impaired. Other council tax discounts, such as single occupancy or disabled person discount, don’t qualify for this reduction. Households that pay for garden aid are not exempt from paying for the service.

If a customer is eligible for an exemption they must still register during the sign up windows in order to receive the service. Exemption eligibility is checked before the subscription is progressed, if this check highlights that the customer doesn’t qualify the registration is cancelled and the customer is contacted advising them of this and how to pay if they still want to receive the service. Where this happens close to the registration closing, the customer is given a short extension to call and pay over the phone.

3.2 Permits
Once the registration window closes, and the required eligibility and data quality checks are complete, the registrations are processed onto the waste collection systems and new routes are created.

During the two weeks ahead of the service commencing the customer will receive a letter, with an attached permit sticker (and additional permit stickers if more than one bin has been registered for the property), and the collection calendar for the garden waste service address. The customer’s name will also be added to the letter where it is feasible to do so. 

From this year, customers will now have the opportunity to select whether they want this letter to be sent to their home address or their garden waste service address if they are registering for a different property. This has been a highly requested option from customers, in particular those supporting individuals with care needs and landlords registering their properties.

Customers are advised that if they do not receive the permit by a specific date, they should report this as soon as possible, and no later than 28 days after this date. For those registering in the main window, this would be if it has not arrived by 3 November and should be reported no later than 3 December.

Customers are advised to attach the permit to a clean and clear part of the bin below the handles; this allows the collection crews a quick way of confirming registered bins as the colour of the permit changes each year. If the bin does not have the permit attached it will not be emptied.

The permit is a tamper-proof permit meaning that, if a permit was to be ripped off the bin, it would leave behind evidence the customer had paid for that year’s collections and the part taken off becomes void.

3.3 Tiphereth Customers
Tiphereth undertake garden waste collections in the Colinton area of Edinburgh through a long-running agreement. Customers on the streets serviced by Tiphereth would still register for the service via the Council however they would receive a weekly bag collection carried out by Tiphereth.

3.4 Internal site and other organisations
We don’t offer a commercial garden waste service however internal Council sites, and a limited number of other organisations (namely bowling clubs, lawn tennis courts, and croquet clubs), can register for the garden waste service. 

The charge remains the same as residential customers, and the registration process and timescales also remain the same. 

The key difference for these sites is that a Waste Transfer Note (WTN) covering the collection year must also be signed before the permit is sent out and the details of this are outlined at the point of registering. The WTN is a legal requirement to ensure the Council and the business is compliant with their duty of care. Where it has not been possible to get a signed WTN back within the deadline the subscription is cancelled and the business is refunded, it is possible for them to sign up again in the next registration window.

4.0 How to Register
The quickest and easiest way to register and pay is on our website at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste

Signing in to a MyGov account is now optional in order to make the process easier, however registering without signing in will mean the customer will not see the history of their garden waste subscription on their account.

Residents can ask a family member, friend or neighbour to register and pay on their behalf online if they’re unable to do it themselves.

Customers eligible for an exemption can register using the online form, or by using the phone number below if they don’t have access to the internet or someone who can register on their behalf.

Anyone without access to the internet can call us on 0131 357 2800. Phone lines are open Monday to Thursday between 10am – 4pm and Friday 10am – 3.40pm. 

It’s not possible for a resident to register in person at one of our locality offices.  They will need to register online or by telephone instead. 

A one-off payment of £35 (per brown bin) will be taken by debit or credit card. There is no limit to how many garden waste bins a property can have but there will be a charge of £35 per bin.

Aligning to corporate policy, we don’t accept cheques or cash payments. 

Residents can share a bin with their neighbours, but they’ll need to agree on one resident acting as the lead for booking and paying for the service against their property. If there are any service issues with the shared bin (e.g. a missed collection), then this must be reported against the property with the permit.

Residents are encouraged to sign up early once the registration window is opened.

Registrations cannot be made outside of the sign-up windows.


4.1 Main Registration Window
To receive the service for the full collection year, (and have a continuous service if they are already a customer) residents must register during the main registration window using the method outlined above. This window runs from 10am on 22 July until 2pm on 1 September.

4.2 Mid-Year Registration Window
If a customer moves into the area after the main windows closes (or they changed their mind or missed the summer window), we operate a mid-year registration window. Previously this was two weeks held around January/February, however as of this year this window will be greatly expanded opening from 1 December 2021.

The approach to the mid-year window was approved at Transport and Environment Committee in June 2021, with an amendment to continue the mid-year window beyond 31 May 2022 (the originally proposed close date for the mid-year window) with details of this to be reported to Transport and Environment Committee in March 2022.

Similar to previous years, a further Members Briefing will be circulated ahead of the mid-year window opening with specific details on this registration process.

5.0 Communication
A comprehensive communications campaign is being implemented to raise awareness of garden waste registration and to encourage sign up during the main registration window (between 22 July and 1 September).  

The communications approach is using multiple channels to raise awareness to as many residents as possible and encourage sign up. The following communication channels are being used: 

  • Lamppost wraps – targeted at areas people visit regularly such as supermarket
  • Radio/Spotify adverts o Social media posts (including sponsored adverts)
  • Press (press releases and reactive press statements as required)
  • Council website
  • Adverts in supermarkets
  • Billboards on key arterial routes
  • Mailing to existing customers and those that have registered an interest for this registration window, to advise of the registration window.
  • Customers who we have an email address for, will be sent emails from 22 July and those without email addresses will receive a letter.  Both the email and letter will explain to customers what they need to do and about the rate change.


6.0 Summary of Key Points
The main registration window opens at 10am on 22 July closing at 2pm on 1 September. Registrations after this time will not be processed.

The rate will now be £35 per bin, as approved by Council, to ensure full cost recovery of the collection and subscription management service.

The registration window will be supported by a multi-channel, comprehensive, communication campaign.

Residents are encouraged to register online (or have a family member, friend or neighbour register on their behalf). The other option to register is via phone. 

Residents cannot register in person at one of our locality offices, and cheque/cash payment will not be accepted.

The mid-year registration will open from 1 December; however, the charge will remain at £35 and the service year ends 6 November 2022.

Details of the full terms and conditions can be found here: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste. 

Gullies – All of Edinburgh’s 63 Councillors could do more to ensure the Council is getting the basics right.

I think most people will accept that flooding was the inevitable result of the rainfall we saw (and heard) on Sunday, and would agree with the Council that clean gullies alone would not have prevented much of the disruption we saw (report, 6th of July).

We should not pretend, however, that well maintained infrastructure is not the first line of defence when dealing with any rainfall event. It’s not uncommon in my Ward, however, to see a gully choked to the gunnels with weeds growing out of it.

It is worth also considering, however, what’s blocking the gullies. The Council’s own data makes clear that there has been a marked drop in street cleanliness in Edinburgh, and that it is not meeting its own targets. It’s this material that’s blocking the gullies.

It’s not just these basic services where problems exist. Fly-tipping incidents have increased by 91% since 2017. Weeds are now so big in parts of my Ward they are trip hazards. Our capital looks unloved, and Council staff are exhausted playing catch-up.

I’m a huge fan of some of the strategies the Council has produced over the last few years – it has plans to tackle everything from poverty to climate change. I support and welcome this, but I think all of Edinburgh’s 63 Councillors could do more to ensure the Council is getting the basics right too. That’s about asking questions to find out what the issues are, but it is also about standing up for Edinburgh and ensuring it has the funding it needs.  Above all else, we need to be honest about the challenges we face.

(You can report blocked gullies here)

Briefing – Surface Water Flooding in Edinburgh (4th of July 2021)

Below is a note from Council staff on Sunday’s flooding in Edinburgh. Below that is a update from the gully team from a couple of weeks ago on the progress they were making in my Ward.

Flooding in Edinburgh – 4th July 2021
You will no doubt be aware of the localised, but significant, surface water flooding that we experienced in a number of areas of the city yesterday afternoon and evening.

I thought it would be useful to provide you with an update on action taken to date and some background information on our operations.

The Gully Team worked throughout last night and today to respond to reports of flooding. This team has also been supported by additional resource from the Roads Operations service in order to respond to as many reports as possible, as quickly as we could.

Unfortunately, the significant rainfall intensity that we experienced was way beyond the capacity of the road drainage system. There were a number of examples across the city where road drains were surcharging due to the Scottish Water sewer network also being at capacity. As you would expect, we are working with Scottish Water to identify these locations and any potential solutions to prevent future recurrences.

Much of the flooding subsided relatively quickly after the rainfall intensity reduced, which would indicate a lack of capacity in the drainage network as opposed to blocked road drainage. At the time of writing, there is no known location where there is still standing water.

In addition to responding to the flooding and any clean ups that are required, Roads Operations have also been responding to damaged manhole covers. Where these covers are the responsibility of Scottish Water, we have been making them safe and then passing them on to Scottish Water for fuller repair or replacement.

Members will be aware that we operate a target schedule of every two years for gully emptying. In addition, we have an enhanced six monthly emptying frequency for the sensitive locations in the city where there are known hotspots for surface water flooding. I can report that the sensitive location routes had been completed in advance of the adverse weather event. In addition, over 10,500 gullies had been attended to in the last four months alone in line with our wider maintenance schedule.

I appreciate that you may be contacted by constituents who have, unfortunately, experienced water damage to residential or commercial properties. If this is the case, we recommend that these constituents are advised to contact their insurance company as a priority. If you do feel that there is a complaint that you feel warrants further investigation then please email Roads.GullyCleansing@edinburgh.gov.uk.

If you would like to discuss any of the content of this note, or any other related matter, then please feel free to contact me directly.

Ward 8 Gully Maintenance (15th June 2021)
We are making progress all be it slowly, I am not sure any of us knew the extent of the backlog and issues we would face when we applied for the drainage team and it does certainly have it’s challenges but we are starting to seeing a difference.

We now have two of our three new vehicles, one old one and one on hire. We are working through the back log of add hoc reports as well as making inroads into the scheduled routes.

The works supervisor advises the ward 8 reports have all been done with the exception of any that had parked cars and the ones I have just raised that he hasn’t seen yet, the scheduled routes in ward 8 are being done and once we have a list of any gullies that could not be accessed a Traffic Order will be raised to ban the parking to allow any left to be cleaned. We have even cleaned the gullies and poly channels on the Colinton Bridge.

This progress is being echoed across the city where we are starting to see less reports coming in which is letting us keep the lorries on routes. We can see up to 50 gullies cleaned a day per vehicle on a route as appose to as few as 10 if the lorry is on add hoc reports as these can be scattered over several areas.

The repair team have also been very busy and we are working through some very long standing issues that have been repeatedly causing flooding issues for some time. One such job we have just completed near Ratho, Scottish Water had sent a mole up a footway to pull a new main through, this ran up a gully line for about 50m. This had been left to flood each time it rained for a number of years. We now have a new line in and no flooding and Scottish Water will be recharged for this.

I am not under any illusions we are there yet or that things will ever get quiet but it is moving in the right direction.

Amendment to the Council’s report on retaining Spaces for People Schemes in Edinburgh

Below is the amendment agreed by the Labour Group on Monday to the Council’s report on retaining Spaces for People Schemes in Edinburgh. I support this despite the following reservations with respect to the schemes that touch on my Ward:

  1. The public should be involved in the further review of the Braid Road and Comiston Road schemes, and these should be considered together.
  2. Many will welcome the removal of the Lanark Road scheme, but I would have preferred greater dialogue with the local community about this as there may be some aspects they want retained.
  3. I’m concerned that a way could not be found to do more to improve the environment for pedestrians.

There has been a lack of clarity for some time regarding the aims the Braid Road and Comiston Road schemes. The reviews need to clearly define this, and work with residents to establish the best way forward.

I can’t say if the amendment below will be accepted, but I do hope that it is part of the discussion at the Transport & Environment Committee and that all the Councillors there can reach consensus on a way forward that meets Edinburgh’s needs.

Amendment as agreed by the Labour Group in Edinburgh.

Committee:

  • Welcomes the high level of public engagement through the consultation and recognises the complexity of competing needs expressed around road space allocation, particularly in ensuring accessibility.
  • Notes that officer recommendations are based on:
    • Public consultation
    • Market Research
    • Stakeholder surveys
    • Assessment against previously agreed criteria
    • Assessment in light of existing transport policy and direction
  • To better reflect the consultation responses of residents and businesses, in particular where feedback has been fairly definitive in the views of respondents, Committee agrees to:
    • Remove the scheme at Lanark Road, as one of this scheme’s main purposes was to relieve lockdown pressure on the water of Leith paths. However requests officers retain the speed limit at 30mph which has improved safety for all residents and consider any actions to minimise conflict on the water of Leith path-users at this section.   
    • Ask officers to further engage with the local residents and community reps ahead of an ETRO to further address resident parking pressure along the Longstone Corridor.
    • Bring a report to the next Transport and Environment Committee on options for modifications to Silverknowes Road South, including the removal of the scheme.
    • Bring a report to the next Transport and Environment Committee on options for Comiston Road, to improve public transport connectivity and reduce impacts on local residents.
    • Bring a report to the next Transport and Environment Committee on options for modifications to Drum Brae North based on the concerns expressed through the consultation.
    • Bring a report to the next Transport and Environment Committee on options for retaining Forrest Road and George IV Bridge, based on the support identified in the consultation, until the permeant scheme can be implemented- including options to accelerate the delivery of those schemes.
    • Bring a report to the next Transport and Environment Committee on Braid Road, with options for the reopening of the road in both directions, including analysis of impacts on traffic levels, resident connectivity and vulnerable road users walking, wheeling and cycling.
    • Improve signage at West Harbour Road/West Shore Road to more clearly inform motorists of the closure and increase disabled parking bays at the closer point to improve disabled access.
  • Agree the remaining recommendations for schemes as set out in the report however also agrees to:
    • Continue to work with Living Streets, local businesses and the access panel to explore long term replacements for the Shopping Streets schemes being removed to give adequate safe space for pedestrians.
    • Continue to make any changes required to improve safety and accessibility for residents and disabled people for all other schemes progressing to an ETRO through those statutory processes.

What next for Spaces for People in Colinton, Oxgangs & Fairmilehead?

(Buckstone Terrace where bollards were removed after repeated collisions.)

Introduction
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:

  1. Removal of “shopping street” measures for pedestrians;
  2. Cycle routes to remain; and
  3. 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.

Schools
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!

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”. Parking along the route will be reviewed with a view to increasing capacity.

Comiston Road
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.

Braid Road
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”.

Conclusion
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.

Spaces for People Market Research Background

Running in parallel to the recent consultation on making at least some Space for People permanent, the Council conducted market research to understand what a cross-section of Edinburgh’s population feel. This is because consultations can often disproportionately attract responses from people with strong views.

As the survey will feature in the forthcoming SfP debate, I thought it was important to ask (1) which questions were asked and (2) how the people who responded were identified.

Which question were asked?
It appears the survey followed the same basic format of the of the online consultation, so that the responses could be compared. The Council say the survey “uses essentially identical questions as were on the Consultation Hub. The only appreciable difference between this survey and that on the Consultation Hub is that the Market Research  asked questions about potential retention or removal of streets using a geographical split of the city.  This was not done on the Consultation Hub for software reasons and to keep the survey as short as reasonably practical.”

Linked below is the survey text.

Who were asked to complete the survey?
I asked how the people who completed the survey were identified, and if they matched the demographics of the city population as much as possible. Age, income, gender etc, and were spread across this city?

I was given this reassurance – “In short, yes. We asked the MR company to look at the demographics of the sample against  the most recent Edinburgh People’s survey to check that it was as representative as possible…. There were respondents from all parts of the city.” … “we asked the MR company to look at the demographics of the sample against  the most recent Edinburgh People’s Survey. We also asked them to weight for sex/age if necessary to help achieve results that were as representative of the Edinburgh population as possible.” …

“We did not collect information on income, so it was not possible to weight for that, We did ask a question on household car ownership in the questionnaire; as well as giving  valuable insights in itself this tends to be a fairly good proxy for household income. We haven’t yet compared this information against latest info for Edinburgh, but I am pretty confident that it indicates somewhat higher household car ownership in the sample than in the Edinburgh population as a whole. We have not weighted for car ownership.

The results have been weighted as below.

Age GroupAge distribution of sample (unweighted)Edinburgh People’s Survey  results –  used for weighting
18-248%15%
25-4437%40%
45- 6438%28%
65+17%17%
Gender Age distribution of sample (unweighted) Edinburgh People’s Survey 2019 results –  used for weighting
Female51%52%
Male49%48%

More details of the methodology are in the file below.

Braid Road & The Quiet Route – Another Update – More cars & less bikes.

Below is the latest update on Braid Road and the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Routs from the Spaces for People team. The main conclusion appears to be that traffic moving through the area is more settled. The number of cyclists continues to fall, but numbers on a nearby road (Whitehouse Loan) are rising. Pedestrian numbers on Braid Road are noted as being “high”, but these are also falling. The data files are at the foot of this blog.

Pedestrian traffic on Braid Road appears to have dropped by 21%.

The data suggests that the total number of vehicles passing through Greenbank junction has increased by  9% whilst the number of bikes has dropped by 27%.   The data also suggests that the total number of bikes passing through the junction on Braid Road (where the roundabout was) has increased by  12% whilst the number of bikes has dropped by 27%.

In response to the briefing, I have posed the following questions to the SfP team:

  1. It would be useful if you could add to this an objective analysis of the delays on Comiston Road.
  1. Your data suggests that the total number of vehicles passing through Greenbank junction has increased by  9% but the number of bikes has dropped by 27%. Is that correct?
  1. Pedestrian traffic on Braid Road appears to have dropped by 21%. You describe the numbers as “high”. I assume this is just a personal judgment rather than an objective analysis? I live in Buckstone and many streets here are far busier – esp Buckstone Road and Crescent.  
  1. Your data suggests that the total number of bikes passing through the junction on Braid Road (where the roundabout was) has increased by  12% whilst the number of bikes has dropped by 27%. Is that correct?
  1. On Braid Road, it was originally closed as it was argued that the  numbers of pedestrians accessing the Hermitage meant extra space was needed. The current configuration has removed this extra space as the carriageway at the hermitage entrance is now wholly consumed by space for bikes and cars. Given that SfP argued that the Braid Road closure is separate from the Quiet Route, what is the current “Covid” justification for Braid Road only being open southbound?


Spaces for People Braid Road Update

The changes to Braid Road and the southern section of the Quiet Route have now been in place for several weeks and we have received updated count data. As such, I wanted to share an update on how the measures appear to be functioning.

Please find attached an updated summary document of the traffic counts, as well as pedestrian counts for both the April and May count periods.

Traffic Movements
In terms of vehicle traffic movements through the Braid Estate, the Quiet Connection now appears to be functioning largely as planned, with a reduced number of vehicles accessing the Braid Estate overall, and most of the northbound traffic on Braid Road, continuing all the way to the junction of Cluny Gardens, rather than turning onto Braid Crescent and following the quiet route.

This is shown by the reduction in the number of vehicles turning left onto Braid Road from Braidburn Terrace from 1,083 vpd in the April counts, to 895 in the May counts, as well as the significant increase in the number of vehicles turning right from Braid Road onto Cluny Gardens from 491 vpd in the April counts to 776 in the May counts. Suggesting a reduction in the amount of through traffic traveling along Braidburn Crescent, Hermitage Gardens and Corrennie Drive compared to immediately after the changes. This is supported by officer’s on site observations, as well as more recent feedback from members of the public.

Levels of traffic accessing Braid Road southbound have increased from 961 in April to 1,414 in May, which should help to reduce pressure on the A702 southbound.

We are aware of concerns from residents on some streets in the area (notably Midmar Gardens and the southern end of Hermitage Gardens) of increased traffic. It is likely that, though traffic on these streets may have increased compared to when Braid Road was closed, it is still very low. We will continue to assess and review nonetheless.

It is worth noting that the level of traffic in the area is dramatically reduced compared to pre-covid baseline. Almost all through traffic in the Braids Estate must travel through the Braid Road / Braidburn Terrace junction. In 2018 levels of traffic at this junction exceeded 9,000 vpd. In the latest counts this figure was 2,308 vpd.

Levels of Cycling
Interestingly levels of cycling at all points were lower in May than in April. However I have reviewed our counter data for the nearby counter on Whitehouse Loan which suggests that: the count period in April was during a particularly high week for cycling, and; over the longer term the current levels of cycling in the area are notably higher than levels during Spring in previous years. This is shown in the below charts.

The first chart shows the weekly summary of average daily cycle traffic on Whitehouse Loan during each week since the start of 2021. The April counts took place during the week shown in blue, the May counts took place during the week shown in red.

The second chart shows the monthly summary of daily average cycle traffic at the same location since the start of 2018. Figures for March, April and May during each year are highlighted. The average daily cycle use at this location in March, April and May, is the highest on record for each of those months, and among the highest for any month (I am not sure why the figure is so high for Autumn 2019, this is spike is present in several of our counters).

Pedestrian Use of Braid Road
Levels of pedestrian use remain high on Braid Road, though figures in May were below those in April. The footway on the South-East side of the junction of Braid Road and Hermitage Drive is consistently the busiest at this junction, highlighting the importance of the footway widening at this point.

I hope that the above and attached data is of interest. I am sharing due to the high level of interest in the scheme, especially during the weeks shortly after implementation when problematic traffic movements were causing issues in certain residential streets in the Braid Estate. The data suggests that these issues have reduced, and that the scheme is now functioning largely as planned.

This data will form part of the project review for this project, which will be carried out by officers in the coming weeks.

Spaces for People – Urgent Review of the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route

Overview
Below is an update from the Spaces for People team on an “Urgent Review” of the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route I knew nothing about. Plans above, and the original PDF version is below.

Based on the briefing below I put three points to the SfP team:

Point 1
Cllr Arthur – What actual data was this decision based on?
SfP – This proposal was based on officer observations and feedback from local residents and councillors. Counts have been conducted (Tue 20th and Wed 21st) and reviewed, and follow on counts are scheduled for next week. Count summary attached (this level of data presentation has taken a considerable amount of time and may not generally be available across other projects). [note the data is linked at the foot of this blog – it is for 7am to 7pm] The change is a very minor modification following an instruction from the Transport and Environment Committee on 22 April to conduct an urgent review due to unintended consequences with the layout at that time. Should problems persist more significant modifications can be considered.
Cllr Arthur – This data suggests (graphic below) that an average of 12,603 vehicles (inc buses) and 250 bikes pass through Greenbank junction from the north or south each day. For Braid Road the daily numbers are 911 vehicles from Hermitage Drive and 336 bikes passing the Hermitage entrance. Note – In May 2020 there were 600 trips daily on Braid Road alone.

Point 2
Cllr Arthur – Did the observation today that traffic was falling take into account that many schools were closed for in-service training? Can the data relating to traffic levels be shared?
SfP – Today’s observations did not specifically consider the impact of school operations, however on previous days the majority of the traffic heading northbound on Braid Road was observed to turn right onto Braid Crescent – following the Quiet Connection. Today the majority of traffic heading northbound on Braid Road at this location was observed to continue along Braid Road.

Point 3
Cllr Arthur – What discussions have taken please in relation to the peak-time delays to public transport on Comiston Road? Was this considered today? I raised this with the SfP team last week.
SfP – Lothian buses have been part of discussions and while there have been some delays recently on the A702 there has been no clear pattern. LB have not raised any concerns with our proposals and we will continue to discuss any issues with LB if and when they emerge.


Braid Road Urgent Review – Outcome
As you are aware Braid Road re-opened to Southbound traffic alongside the introduction of several measures meant to support the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Connection on Monday 19th April.

As you are also aware, the layout as installed resulted in some unintended consequences with significant numbers of vehicles travelling north/east from Braidburn Terrace towards Cluny Gardens along the route of the quiet connection until the junction of Cluny Drive and Braid Avenue where traffic is forced to turn left. This resulted in larger levels of traffic in certain streets on the quiet connection (such as Corrennie Drive) than would normally be seen.

This traffic quickly reduced over the ensuing week as motorists became aware of the closures, however towards the end of last week it was observed to still be higher than had been hoped. It was also noted that numerous concerns had been raised about motorists finding the layout confusing. Following this input, and in line with instruction from Committee, a review was carried out.

Following this review we have actioned several minor changes to tweak the layout to encourage better driver behaviours in the area, and discourage through traffic from using the streets on the Quiet Connection. These changes are summarised in the attached document.

Most of these changes have been carried out, and we hope that all changes will have been made within the next week or so. We will continue to monitor the operation of the Quiet Connection through officer observation, consideration of public and elected member feedback and traffic counts at various sites.

From observations on site today it would appear that traffic levels on the Quiet Connection are continuing to fall compared to immediately after the introduction of the scheme, and we will continue to monitor this closely and consider any further changes that may be required.

We have received a large amount of correspondence from the public regarding this scheme and will shortly begin responding to all of these now that we have a more established way forward.

We will also be making the following changes following specific feedback:

  • Widening the northbound cyclelane on Braid Road immediately north of the hotel
  • Revising the layout of Braid Road between the junction with Hermitage Drive and the Hermitage of Braid path to allow northbound egress from the Hermitage of Braid for forestry maintenance vehicles
  • Adjusting the Rosehill Cycle Lane Defenders at the junction of Braid Road and Hermitage Drive to improve pedestrian desire lines

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions on the above and attached.

Libraries to be used for Asymptomatic Testing Centres in Edinburgh

Below is a briefing from the Council on their plans to set up Asymptomatic Testing Centres in Edinburgh. These will use libraries for short periods of time, including Colinton Library in my Ward. This is in addition to Oxgangs Library being used for Walk-In Testing.

Introduction
The Scottish Government invited all local authorities and health boards to submit funding bids to establish and run ‘mobile’ asymptomatic testing centres (ATC) as part of a targeted community testing programme.

Their purpose is to drive down Covid19 transmission rates by identifying people in the community who have the virus but have no (or very mild) symptoms and could be spreading it unknowingly.

This is a key element of the Government’s strategy for containing the virus as the country gradually opens up from lockdown and Edinburgh’s progress through the levels system is likely to require that sites are up and running.

Council officers submitted a bid and agreement to fund the first six months of operation has now been received. This is likely to be renewed for the second half of the financial year at the same level.

How will the sites work?
Areas of the city with stubbornly high infection rates will be targeted and detailed work is ongoing with NHS Lothian to monitor the trends in the data to plan future deployment.

We are looking at a variety of other data including hard-to-reach communities and groups who have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.

It is intended that two ATCs will operate in the city at one time, with each in place for around three weeks in total (one week set-up, one week open to the local community for walk-in tests and one week to take down).

The centres will operate from libraries, which have been chosen as being local and easily accessible venues across the city which communities are familiar with. Staff from Regulatory Services, Libraries and Culture are working jointly to bring together public health, venue management and local expertise so that the ATCs can be as welcoming and efficient as possible. ATCs will not be hosted within the same building as a Symptomatic Testing Centre. These facilities will be provided in separate locations.    

Every possible step will be taken to minimise the period of time a library is required as an ATC. Arrangements will be made to promote the availability of alternative libraries and services which citizens could use during the period their local library is being used as a testing centre. No ATC will be hosted in a library building during the period when it is in use as a polling place during the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

The first ATC will officially open in Craigmillar Library from Wednesday 21 April to Sunday 2 May, with a soft launch on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 April. The second ATC is scheduled to open to the public for testing at Wester Hailes Library in the next couple of weeks. 

Details of the libraries currently considered to be suitable as ATCs are shown in the table at the end of this briefing.

Each site will accommodate up to six testing booths providing up to 480 tests per day (based on an eight-hour opening period), meaning a daily total of up to 960.

Up to 50 staff may be required and options including bringing back furloughed staff and recruiting fixed term contracts are being explored.

Communications will be carefully targeted to reach relevant communities, with messaging focusing on the benefits (to individuals, their families and the wider community) and offering reassurance around safety of testing and its environment. The project team has been in close dialogue with the trade unions in planning the ATCs and will continue to work with them as the community testing programme progresses, to make sure their members are fully informed.

Libraries identified for potential ATC use: South Queensferry, Kirkliston, Currie, Drumbrae, Blackhall, Stockbridge, Wester Hailes, Colinton, Fountainbridge, Morningside, Central Library, McDonald Road, Gilmerton, Moredun, Piershill & Portobello.