Edinburgh Winter Festivals Consultation

Tomorrow, the Council will launch a 12-week consultation on the future of the Winter Festivals (Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Edinburgh’s Christmas).

Delivered by Progressive Partnership on behalf of the Council, the consultation will seek the views of residents, communities and businesses on how the Winter Festivals should be delivered from 2022 onwards.

The consultation will be open for a period of 12 weeks from Wednesday 24 February 2021 to Wednesday 19 May 2021 and can be found here. (Please note, the link will not be live until tomorrow)

The All Party Oversight Group on Festivals and Events has been engaged during the design of the consultation and Members have been kept updated on progress throughout. An earlier Engagement Phase with community, business and interest groups helped to identify the key issues to be explored during this wider consultation.

Due to the Covid restrictions it is not possible to distribute hard copies of the consultation within communities. Respondents are encouraged to submit views via the Council’s Consultation Hub. However, if it is not possible to access the internet then a printed copy can be requested by phoning 0131 200 2000.

The Future of Spaces for People in Edinburgh?

The online engagement exercise looking at the future of Spaces for People schemes was launched today at 2pm and will close at midnight on the 21 March 2021. The council say this consultation “will help inform any proposals to keep changes in place more permanently”.

“In line with our wider ambitions to create a green, healthy and well-connected future for the Capital, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to get from A to B using sustainable, active modes of transport. With these ambitions in mind, we’re asking residents if they’d like to see some of the schemes introduced as part of the Spaces for People programme, or elements of them, retained or removed.”

City of Edinburgh Council

There are three stands of engagement, each with a separate questionnaire:
• Stakeholders
• Businesses
• General Public

The public questionnaire will be accessible through the Council’s consultation hub, as will the questionnaire for businesses. All three questionnaires will be available on request in regular print, large print, braille and translated into other languages.

Concurrently, there will be a piece of market research undertaken in the city on the same topic, conducted by an independent market research company (I have asked about the cost).

The Council will be holding briefings and engaging with various stakeholders directly, including:
• Representatives from the access panel and equalities groups;
• Business community;
• Emergency services;
• Community Councils;
• Transport Organisations;
• Heritage Groups; and,
• Transport Advocacy Groups.

The Council has provided the perspectives below from residents. These views are all valid, but I don’t feel there fully reflect the range of views in Edinburgh on the Spaces for People projects.

Teresa Holligan said: “I understand the anxiety around an apparent lack of consultation over the Braid Road closure, but given the urgency required during the pandemic I was pleased to see swift action and I am delighted with the closure. I have lived at the ‘top’ end of the Buckstone estate for 32 years and make regular journeys to Morningside and my allotment at Midmar. At the start of the pandemic I stopped using buses and relied on my car, but with the new cycle lanes and the closure of a section of Braid Road I now feel able, for the first time ever, to make these almost daily journeys safely by bike, and am doing so. This is obviously healthier for me, the people around me and our environment. I hope that the Council will find a way to make safe cycling routes from Fairmilehead and Buckstone into the city a permanent feature of our transport network.”

Dave McCraw said: “As a family with young children attending the Lanark Road nursery who also commute on the A70 we seem to be forever on this stretch of road. As it exists today it is extremely hazardous to cross on foot, such that we do not use the bus or at any time allow grandparents to handle the nursery run (unless they were driving door to door). Under the proposed scheme, we would happily allow grandparents to take our children to nursery by bus. We often cycle, especially in the summer months when it is dry. Unfortunately the lack of safe street lighting on the Water of Leith path combined with the horrific mud finds us doing a two mile drive to nursery more often than we’d like. We have considered taking our children to a different nursery because the A70 both makes it extremely difficult to access nursery except by car and detracts from the setting of the nursery in general. With the benefit of a 30mph two lane road with excellent active travel provision, the nursery will find itself in even greater demand. All of this is to say: the changes proposed to the Lanark Road will allow us to keep cycling through the winter instead of driving.”

Colin Fischbacher said: “I usually cycle both for travel and work and I know from speaking to colleagues that the main reason people with bikes are reluctant to cycle more in Edinburgh is concern about the safety of cycling in traffic. That’s particularly true on a road like Lanark Road where as you cycle, cars may be passing close to you at 40mph. I think that better provision of cycle lanes is a vital measure to encourage more cycling. A painted line is nice, but a physical barrier is even better.”

Mike Livesley said: “The recently installed cycle lane and segregation on Duddingston Road has vastly improved the quality of life for my family travelling to and from school before the recent lockdown, and will continue to do so once the restrictions are lifted. We are a family with no car and currently travel from Rosefield Place in Portobello to Duddingston Primary where my eldest son (6 years old, p2) is a student. As we have to travel quite far, cycling has always been a popular option as I can also take my youngest son (2) on the back of my bicycle, however until the installation of the cycle lane, Duddingston Road was always far too dangerous to entertain cycling with my son and was scary enough at the best of times on my own, with always a block of parked cars on both sides of the road by St John’s School and Nursery, with opening car doors an additional hazard. However this was transformed with the new cycle lane and has allowed my son and I to cycle together and to greatly improve his confidence and ability to cycle safely on the roads.”

Barbara Kerr said: “I live just off the Links and regularly cycle in the area. Before Links Gardens was closed to provide Spaces for People I avoided it a lot. It was really busy with cars, and drivers tended to ignore me at the narrow bits as I was on a bike and they thought they could squeeze through even though I had right of way. Now it is a joy to cycle along that way. It is such a short section, but provides a really important link to the shared use paths on the Links and towards the Water of Leith Cycle way. Before I would be on the road trying to keep up with traffic on East Hermitage place and Duke street, now I use Links Gardens and the shared use path instead.”

Colin McLean, Head Teacher at James Gillespie’s Primary School, said: “The Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route allows students and staff to cycle, walk and wheel more safely to James Gillespie’s Primary School and Nursery. Our school community has worked hard over a number of years to encourage cycling, walking and wheeling which are known to improve life-long health and wellbeing and improve air pollution in our neighbourhood. Whilst we have one of the highest number of students travelling in this way, we know that many families still consider the road network too dangerous for young children to cycle. The new road safety measures are a game changer to reassure families that it is safe. The Quiet Route will allow us to run our bike- and walking-buses in greater safety and will reduce the risk of accidents involving children and vehicles. We hope that these can now run daily rather than weekly or monthly. We hope that the Quiet Route approach can be expanded into a Low Traffic Neighbourhood approach over time and this will allow students and staff from all parts of the city to reach our school safely and using active travel.”

You can submit your views here.

The Council press release:

UPDATE – Spaces for People schemes for Braid Road, Buckstone PS, Bonaly PS and Pentland PS.

Below is an update on the Spaces for People schemes for Braid Road, Buckstone PS, Balerno PS and Pentland PS.

Braid Road Reopening Southbound by the end of March.
The Council agreed some time ago that Braid Road should reopen southbound but there has been concern about the lack of progress. I received this response when I asked the SfP Project Manager for a firm timeline:

Following the Committee decision and amendment we have the following actions to progress:

  • Review proposed design options for south bound reopening of Braid Road and consideration of measures in the Cluny and Midmar area to mitigate the reintroduction of traffic. (Ongoing)
  • Continue dialogue with Lothian Buses regarding journey times on Comiston Road (last report 18/2/21 noting no current delays).
  • Arrange Stakeholders workshop to discuss and agree a design layout and appropriate local traffic mitigation options.
  • Seek final approval from our Corporate Incident Management team.
  • Rescind existing TTRO and draft up revised Temporary Traffic Regulation Notice (and subsequent Order).
  • Revise road layout(s) and reopen Braid Road.

In terms of a timeline we are reviewing our design options next week and expect to arrange the stakeholder workshop in the next couple of weeks. We should be able, resource permitting, to reopen Braid Road (in a southbound direction) before the end of March 2021.

Primary School Spaces for People Schemes – Bonaly, Buckstone and Pentland Primary Schools
People living around these schools have received letters earlier this week saying these schemes will go ahead. I complained about this as the consultation reports had not yet been circulated. The reports are below.

Note – The Pentland PS report says they did no receive any comments from me. In fact, I made this comment:

I have only had a modest level of feedback on these plans from local people and the school community. The common theme from the responses is the lack of consideration given to the Oxgangs Bank entrance which is widely seen as the busiest point on the School. Can the SfP team work with residents and parents on this?

In terms of accessibility, many disabled people depend on cars (both to drive and as a passenger) and taxis. Road changes shouldn’t prevent disabled people from being able to stop near the school. Changes to usual travel patterns can add to anxiety for all of us, but to some disabled people in particular. The scheme should therefore be seen in this context – continual changes should therefore be avoided where possible, and should be effectively communicated to the public (including disabled people).

The UK Government’s plan for eight new Covid-19 testing centres for Edinburgh.

Below is a briefing from the Council on the UK Government’s plan for eight new Covid-19 testing centres for Edinburgh. This will include a centre in my Ward – either Oxgangs Library or Pentland Community Centre. I have also suggested that a church in Fairmilehead and/or Colintion as testing centres.

Introduction
At present, there are three Covid-19 testing centres in Council-owned buildings (Gate 55, Usher Hall and Leith Library). There is a licence agreement in place between the Council and the UK Government for each. 

We have been approached by the Scottish Government on behalf of the UK Government to provide a further eight Local Testing Sites (LTS) in Edinburgh. The attached map shows both the existing centres and the locations where the new sites are required. This expansion aims to:

  • close the gap between the number of people being tested and the estimated number of daily new cases in the mid- to long-term;
  • focus on areas of higher deprivation and low car ownership to increase access to testing; and,
  • maximise the amount of people with symptoms who get tested, by making testing easy to access (and then support these individuals to self-isolate, contact trace their contacts, and break chains of transmission).

These centres are for testing people with symptoms of Covid-19 rather than for asymptomatic community testing, which will be covered separately.

LTS can either be provided within existing buildings or as units on hardstanding areas on outdoor space. There are specific basic criteria for each option that proposed sites need to fulfil, e.g. disability access, separate access/egress etc

Progress so far
Officers provided an initial list of potential options to the Scottish Government for consideration and the first three areas are in the process of being finalised. The options are:

AreaOptions
GrantonOutdoor LTS within the car park for Ainslie Park Leisure CentreSite at Waterfront Avenue
Niddrie/CraigmillarOutdoor LTS within the car park for Jack Kane Leisure Centre
RestalrigPiershill Library
Moredun (TBC)Moredun Library orGilmerton Community Centre
Clermiston (TBC)Drumbrae Hub orRannoch Community Centre
Oxgangs (TBC)Oxgangs Library or Pentland Community Centre
Saughton (TBC)Carrickvale Community Centre orLongstone Resource Centre
Newington (TBC)Newington Library orCameron House Community Centre

The graphic above shows these locations on a map of Edinburgh.

The UK Government would like to have all eight centres operational by April. They have the capacity to mobilise three centres per week.

Once the preferred option for an area is identified, timescales are likely to move fast. A site visit to finalise the layout for the LTS will be followed quickly by a licence agreement and handover of the building.

Edinburgh’s City Mobility plan needs to be SMART

Edinburgh is a growing city which, in normal times, has a congestion problem. If the city continues to grow, Edinburgh needs to think how people, goods and services can move around efficiently. Additionally, we have to think about the growing numbers of people commuting into Edinburgh, and how we deal with the climate emergency and air pollution.

Key to solving all these issues is “modal shift” – getting a greater proportion of people using more sustainable modes of transport. Paramount to this is investing in public transport, but we also have to ensure new developments are better connected to shops etc.

The Council’s “City Mobility Plan” sets out how this could be done. This plan sets out what’s needed to deliver a more sustainable, integrated, efficient, safe and inclusive transport system over the next decade.

This plan is, however, largely unfunded – the report describes the funding situation as “challenging”. Let me be clear, the Council will need funding from the Scot Gov to deliver this vision.

A second concern I have is the detail of what the Council hopes to achieve. Normally, SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) are the starting point for any plan. Councillors are being asked, however, to agree the City Mobility Plan without any targets for modal shift in place. We are being told “mode share targets will be set out in a Technical Note to support the monitoring of this Plan”.

The plan is not perfect and will evolve in response to funding and other pressures, but it is a good starting point those of us who want people, goods and services to be able to move around our capital efficiently and sustainably.

People will oppose this plan, but they need to explain how they’d solve Edinburgh’s future transport problems.

Briefing – Mid-Year Garden Waste Collection Registration

Below is a briefing from the Council on the mid-year garden waste collection registration. This is essentially for people who missed the registration period last year. Registration opens tomorrow.

BRIEFING NOTE: GARDEN WASTE REGISTRATION – MID YEAR 2021

What’s happening?

  • The next registration window for the garden waste service opens on Tuesday 02 February at 10am and will close at 2pm on Tuesday 16 February. 
  • Residents can sign up to receive fortnightly garden waste collections for £25 per brown bin. 
  • Residents who sign up in February will be sent their permit(s) between 15-26 March and the service will run from 30 March until 07 November 2021 (date of first and last collection will vary depending on calendar for their address however they will be within this date range).
  • Residents will need to renew their permit again in the summer to continue receiving collections after 07 November. 
  • Information on the start and end dates of the garden waste service and when residents will receive their permit sticker(s) with a garden waste calendar is available at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste.  Residents should keep an eye on this page for updates.
  • Due to current safety measures in place because of Coronavirus, residents will only be able to register online or by telephone. It won’t be possible to register in person at any of our locality offices as they’re being used as community resilience centres during the pandemic. This is a change from previous registration windows and means cash or cheque payments will not be possible.
  • A communications campaign is also planned to raise awareness of permit extensions, renewals, any changes to the way people can register and to encourage sign up.

How to register

  • The quickest and easiest way to register and pay is on our website at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste.  We’ve simplified the online sign up process by making it optional to register using the MyGov account. If a resident chooses not to use their MyGov account, the process will be quicker, but it means that they won’t be able to see the history of their garden waste permit on their MyGov account.
  • Anyone without access to the internet can call us on 0131 357 2800. We may have reduced staffing due to Coronavirus and phone lines may be busy. Telephone lines are open Monday – Thursday, 10am – 4pm and Friday 10am – 3.40pm. 
  • Residents can ask a family member or friend to register and pay on their behalf online if they’re unable to do it themselves. 
  • A one-off payment of £25 (per brown bin) will be taken by debit or credit card.
  • It’s not possible for a resident to register in person at one of our locality offices.  If they usually register and pay this way, then they will need to register online or by telephone instead. 
  • We don’t accept cheques or cash payments. 
  • Once a resident has signed up and payment has been received, they’ll be sent a garden waste calendar along with a permit sticker(s) between 15-26 March to put on their brown bin(s). If they don’t receive these at their registered address by 29 March, they should email waste@edinburgh.gov.uk. If the resident has not received their permit within 28 days of the service start date they should email waste@edinburgh.gov.uk – for this registration window that would mean customers must report this by 26 April.
  • The service is available to a limited number of other organisations, such as lawn sport clubs. Bowling, tennis and croquet clubs must register for the service over the phone and not online and it is their responsibility to ensure that they have a waste transfer note in place.

Does everyone need to pay?

  • Signing up to receive the garden waste service is optional. If a resident chooses not to sign up, then they won’t receive garden waste collections.
  • Residents who receive Council Tax Reduction (formerly called Council Tax Benefit) or are classed, or live with someone who has been classed as, severely mentally impaired, do not need to pay for the service, but they do need to register to receive it. 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.
  • A small number of residents in the Colinton area have their garden waste collected by Tiphereth (Colinton Compost) and they also need to register and pay to continue receiving the service. Tiphereth customers receive weekly collections of their bagged garden waste.

How does the service work?

  • We’ll empty brown bins once every two weeks until this service year ends on 07 November 2021
  • Permits are not prorated for residents who sign up in February 2021.  It is the same service year end for residents signing up in February 2021 even if they didn’t sign up at the start of the service year in Summer 2020.
  • Residents need to renew their permits every year before they expire to continue receiving the service. 
  • We’ll only empty brown bins with valid permit stickers.
  • Permits are sent to the house the registered garden waste address; permits cannot be sent to another property.
  • There is no limit to how many garden waste bins a property can have but there will be a charge of £25 per bin.
  • 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.
  • If a resident moves to a new house they can transfer their permit to their new address. They’ll need to give us six weeks’ notice to update our system and will need to take their brown bin and permit sticker to their new address.
  • Terms and conditions are available on our website www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwasteterms 


Budget proposal to increase the charge

  • A budget proposal around garden waste has been put forward for consideration as part of the Council’s budget setting process.
  • This proposal is to ensure we achieve full cost recovery for the garden waste subscription and collection service (note this does not include the disposal costs due to legislation on what can be charges)
  • Should this proposal be agreed it will take effect in the summer registration, for the 2021/22 collection year. This will not affect registrations made in this mid-year window and the charge will continue at £25
  • The reasons for the increase are to ensure we are fully recovering our costs, and investment in administration support and system development to allow the mid-year sign up window to be greatly expanded addressing the high levels of complaints from residents and Councillors on the restriction of the current window timescales and the inability to join if these are missed

Key Points 

  • Service provision may need to be reviewed depending on the future impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
  • Residents cannot register in person at one of our locality offices. If they usually register and pay this way, then they’ll be required to register online or by telephone instead. 
  • Cheques or cash payment will not be accepted.
  • The deadline for residents to register for garden waste is 2pm on Tuesday 16 February.  Registrations after this time will not be processed.
  • Residents who register in this window will be joining the service mid-year and the permit will expire 7 November 2021, the cost isn’t pro-rated.

Further information

If a resident needs further information, or has a question to ask, direct them to waste@edinburgh.gov.uk who will assist or log their enquiry.

SfP Update – Potential Closure of Braid Hills Road/Drive, Edinburgh.

Following my blog yesterday, the Council has now shared more details of their plans for Braid Hills Drive. A fifth option has also been introduced – “Bi-directional cycle lanes (north side) & road remains open. Similar layout to Option 1 with core section operating as bi-directional route”. Although the scheme is being proposed in an effort to “help pedestrians and cyclists travel and exercise safely while meeting physical distancing requirements“, the precise issue it is trying to address is not clear. Full details and plans below.

Existing Layout
Braid Hills Drive in the South of the city is a two-way single carriageway country road connecting Liberton Brae in the East and Comiston Road in the west.  It is 3.3km long and the vast majority of it is fronted by the open grassy slopes of Braid Hills.  At either end there are short stretches of residential streets.  On the north side, overlooking the city is a 3.2m wide footway.  On the south side there is no footway.  The carriageway is severely cambered making the first 1.0 to 1.5m of either edge inappropriate for cycling.

There are no existing dedicated cycleways on Braid Hills Drive. No public buses use Braid Hills Drive. 

Summary of Proposal
This scheme is part of overall emergency measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, that re-designates key parts of the road network to help pedestrians and cyclists travel and exercise safely while meeting physical distancing requirements.  It is proposed to improve the environment for cyclists in what is, at present, a car dominated layout. Carriageway space will potentially be reduced wherever possible and segregated cycle ways implemented with options to close sections of Braid Hills Drive / Road. The intended outcome of this is to provide safer spaces for local communities to exercise whilst social distancing as well as providing cycling connections to key local destinations.

Five design options are now suggested:

  1. Braid Hills Road / Drive remain open to vehicular traffic and segregated, unidirectional cycle lanes are provided. The segregated cycle lanes would be provided from the junction of Braid Road / Braid Hills Road to the junction of Liberton Road / Liberton Brae. 
  2. Provision of segregated, uni-directional cycle lanes from the junction of Braid Road / Braid Hills Road to a closure point just east of the junction with Braid Hills Avenue. A closure point will also exist at the junction of Braid Farm Road and Braid Hills Road. From here Braid Hills Road / Drive would remain closed until the junction with Liberton Tower Lane. East of this closure point a segregated, bi-directional cycle lane will be provided on the southern edge of the carriageway until the junction with Alwickhill Road and east of this, segregated, uni-directional cycle lanes will be provided until the junction with Liberton Brae.
  3. A closure point will be situated on Braid Hills Road just east of the junction with Braid Hills Avenue. A closure point will also exist at the junction of Braid Farm Road and Braid Hills Road. From here Braid Hills Road / Drive will remain closed until the junction with Liberton Tower Lane. East of this closure point a segregated, bi-directional cycle lane will be provided on the southern edge of the carriageway until the junction with Alwickhill Road where the scheme will terminate. 
  4. As above closure points will be created at Braid Hills Road east of the junction with Braid Hills Avenue. A closure point will also exist at the junction of Braid Farm Road and Braid Hills Road. From here Braid Hills Road / Drive will remain closed until the junction with Liberton Tower Lane.
  5. The fifth option is to introduce a bi-directional segregated cyclelane adjacent to the north kerbline over the majority of the route. In this option no road closure is necessary, however, entry and exit arrangements at each end are still to be determined.

Subject to approval the detailed design would be considered at the Design Review Group, subject to Stakeholder Notification. 

Plans

Spaces for People Proposal to Close Braid Hills Drive

Normally Councillors get (confidential) sight of Council reports a couple of weeks before they go in the public domain. This gives us a chance to seek clarification or perhaps even raise concerns.I received the (incomplete) 49 page Spaces for People report yesterday at 9:41am and it went in the public domain at 2:38pm.

I knew it would possibly contain a plan for cycle lanes on Braid Hills Drive (not my Ward). Inspection of the report, however, reveals that the Council is considering closing the road. It was argued that it was an “important safe link to areas of exercise in the Hermitage of Braid and Braid Hill area“.

Four options are presented:
Option 1 – Braid Hills Road / Drive remain open to vehicular traffic and segregated cycle lanes are provided. The segregated cycle lanes would be provided from the junction of Braid Road / Braid Hills Road to the junction of Liberton Road / Liberton Brae.

Option 2 (pictured above) – Provision of segregated cycle lanes from the junction of Braid Road / Braid Hills Road to a closure point just east of the junction with Braid Hills Avenue. A closure point will also exist at the junction of Braid Farm Road and Braid Hills Road. From here Braid Hills Road / Drive would remain closed until the junction with Liberton Tower Lane. East of this closure point a segregated cycle lane will be provided on the southern edge of the carriageway until the junction with Alnwickhill Road and east of this, segregated cycle lanes will be provided until the junction with Liberton Brae.

Option 3 – A closure point will be situated on Braid Hills Road just east of the junction with Braid Hills Avenue. A closure point will also exist at the junction of Braid Farm Road and Braid Hills Road. From here Braid Hills Road / Drive will remain closed until the junction with Liberton Tower Lane. East of this closure point a segregated cycle lane will be provided on the southern edge of the carriageway until the junction with Alnwickhill Road where the scheme will terminate.

Option 4 – As above closure points will be created at Braid Hills Road east of the junction with Braid Hills Avenue. A closure point will also exist at the junction of Braid Farm Road and Braid Hills Road. From here Braid Hills Road / Drive will remain closed until the junction with Liberton Tower Lane.

Personally, I feel Options 2-4 are so significant that they should be subject to meaningful consultation with the community around this road. Instead, the report simply says: “A decision needs to be taken internally on the preferred alignment / extent of the scheme”. Once this happens, only “key stakeholders” will be consulted.

Personally, I find it unlikely that the emergency services will agree to the closure of Braid Hills Drive.

Briefing Note: Braid Road (Road Closure) Spaces for People

Below is a briefing on why Braid Road is opening to southbound vehicles. I’ve asked for this to be updated by the SfP team to respond to the following questions:

  1. Is it not incorrect to suggest traffic on Braid Road is zero? It’s on my running route, and there are still a lot of vehicles using the southern end to access Braid Hills Drive. Certainly not 9,486, but I expect there are still thousands of vehicles per day using Braid Road either side of the closure.
  2. Can the air quality results be explained? The LEZ proposed by the Council is based on the premise that fewer vehicles will result in improved air quality.
  3. It is noted that Lothian Buses have expressed support for reopening the road southbound. Were they asked about reopening the route to northbound traffic? Can northbound bus transits time data also be shared?
  1. Can it be confirmed who provided the “anecdotal” cycle use data for Braid Road?
  1. No explanation or justification is given for the continued closure of Braid Road. I normally run through the Hermitage  2-3 times a week as part of a longer circuit, and normally see around 10-20 people between Braid Road and Kirk Brae – a distance of around 2.7km. Sunday mornings are busier (maybe 30-40 people), but there are no issues with social distancing at the Braid Rd entrance. Ironically, the inadequate footpath at the Kirk Brae end (see image below) actually causes more issues. Does this observation align with your data? If so, would a more proportionate response not be simply to widen the footpaths at both the Kirk Brae and Braid Road ends?

Briefing on Braid Road

Introduction
A section of Braid Road was closed to all traffic between the junction of Braidburn Terrace and the Braid Hills Hotel in May 2020 to provide safer pedestrian, cyclist and wheeling access to the Hermitage of Braid park.

During the period of the closure the Spaces for People (SfP) team have on a regular basis considered the impact of the road closure on adjacent routes, the possible negative impact on air quality on Comiston Road and any delays experienced by Lothian Buses on the A702 routes.

This briefing note is intended to provide information gathered as part of the formal review process and make reference to the Review Recommendation to be considered at the Transport and Environment Committee on 28th January 2021. 

Impact on Traffic on Comiston Road
Traffic Counts have been carried out on Comiston Road at the junction with Greenbank Crescent. These have been compared with baseline counts from 2018 and results are shown in the table below.

Traffic on Comiston Road is currently around 9.5% higher than the pre-Covid baseline – around 17,000 vehicles per day, compared with 15,500 vehicles per day – the increase on the A702 corridor is far smaller than the amount of traffic previously recorded using Braid Road – 9,486 vehicles per day.

The overall level of traffic on these two corridors is significantly less than pre-Covid levels (approx. 32% less on these two routes). The general level of traffic which has returned to these corridors (68% of pre-Covid) is less than the general level across the city (80 – 90%), suggesting the closure has achieved a level of traffic reduction on this route. Though it is possible traffic has moved to other routes in the surrounding area.

Air Quality
Concerns have been raised regarding the impact of the Braid Road closure on air quality on the A702, especially on Comiston Road between Greenbank Crescent and Morningside Station. There are two diffusion tube monitoring stations in the area, one at South Morningside Primary School (116 Comiston Rd) and the other further north at the Canny Mans Pub (Morningside Rd). Results from June to October 2020 period, varied between 10-20μg/m3 of Nitrogen Dioxide, which is both lower than the previous year and significantly lower than EU legal limits. This is shown in the graph below.

It is worth noting that these are uncorrected monthly recordings. Normally annual measurements are used for comparison, however these will not be available until later in 2021.

The monthly measurements suggest the closure of Braid Road has not led to poorer air quality on the A702.

Bus Journeys on the A702
The Council has liaised closely with Lothian Buses on a regular basis to determine the impact of the Braid Road closure on A702 bus routes. Lothian Buses have noted that delays have been minimal since the week of August 10th however, in mid -December southbound delays increased as shown in the graph below.

Lothian Buses have noted that traffic routing through residential streets (Cluny Drive to Comiston Road etc) are feeding on to Comiston Road impacting journey times at peak times.

Lothian Buses have expressed support to re-open Braid Road to Southbound traffic to reduce the amount of traffic emerging on to the A702 from side roads between Morningside Station and Greenbank Crossroads. Alternatively, the introduction or additional measure to reduce through traffic from the residential roads between Cluny Drive and Comiston Road could be considered.

Level of Cycle use
Cycle counts were carried out on Braid Road shortly after the closure between Thursday 7 May and Wednesday 13 May 2020. During this time an average of 579 cycle journeys used Braid Road each day. Unfortunately, pre-lockdown counts are not available, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that cycle and pedestrian numbers are still significant, even during the winter period, compared to pre-lockdown levels. The most recent count was undertaken between Thursday 10th and Friday 11th December 2020, indicating an average of 168 cycle journeys on Braid Road each day.

Conclusion
Traffic levels at Greenbank Crossroads remain fairly static at around 17,000vpd, and evidence suggests there has been no negative impact on Air Quality on the A702, southbound bus delays were recorded in mid-December 2020.

Journey times will continue to be monitored in early 2021.

The country is now in a stricter lockdown period and traffic levels across the city have again fallen. Lothian Buses have advised journey times on the A702 routes have returned to normal. However, when the current lockdown eases we may see delays return as traffic levels increase.

Finally, the recommendation offered to the Transport and Environment Committee is to reopen this route in a southbound direction to mitigate the negative impact of traffic and public transport delays and reduce the level of intrusive traffic using residential streets including Cluny Drive and Braid Crescent etc.

It is known that re-opening Braid Road would reintroduce additional traffic into the area. The volume of traffic returning to Braid Road would likely be greater than the corresponding decrease in traffic on Comiston Road. However, there is also a risk that as traffic across the city returns to normal, the level of traffic on Comiston Road will continue to grow in 2021, with likely negative outcomes for public transport journey times and air quality.

At the time of completing this briefing the decision to reopen Braid Road is still to be made, the final timing and layout of the proposed Braid Road reopening is still to be finalised.

Update on Colinton Dell’s Closed Bridges

Below is a briefing from the Council on the closed bridges in Colinton Dell. The history and wildlife in Colinton Dell make it my favourite part of the Water of Leith Walkway. Generations of local people have used Colinton Dell to restore their wellbeing, but lockdown and the fantastic Colinton Tunnel Mural means that it is now more popular than ever. Whilst the costs of repairing the bridges and dealing with the landslip is not trivial, the Council really does have a responsibility to restore easy access to the area.  I know Council officers are frustrated by the situation, but I feel ashamed telling residents that cuts mean the Council can’t do better. Indeed, I was bitterly disappointed that Sustrans blocked the use of Spaces for People funding as I feel this could be a “Spaces for Exercise” project which would be widely welcomed and come with no disruption.

Briefing
With regard to the Pipeline bridge, colleagues in Structures are looking at this with a view to advise on potential options including, the possibility of building the path up and installing a shorter span bridge or a style over the pipe.  We are also working with the Water of Leith Conservation Trust to investigate options for volunteer involvement which, if possible, may help to keep the costs down.  However, the estimates I have been given suggest the cost is still going to be in region of £20,000.  The Water of Leith Conservation Trust have also approached Scottish Water, who are undertaking work in the area, to ask if they would provide any funding to this community project. [Scott Arthur – I asked Scottish Water about this and they declined].

With regard to the wooden bridge over the river at Redhall Weir we are continuing to seek funding for this.  Again, colleagues in Structures are investigating material options for this bridge however, my understanding is that we are still looking at a cost of over £40,000 and therefore considerable funding will be required.

We have investigated the possibility of obtaining funding through the Spaces for People (SfP) project for one or both of these bridges, unfortunately SfP funding is not available for this – Sustrans gave us the steer some time ago that these projects would not be eligible for this funding as they were neither temporary or immediate in nature.  A more recent response from SfP when asked if there was ‘any merit in exploring whether we can access some of the SfP money currently being used to develop cycle provision on Lanark Road?’ stated:

“I am afraid that, as this funding is part of the Spaces for People grant fund we are receiving from Sustrans, and advice they have previously given would still apply here. The current allocation we have against the Lanark Road scheme is fully committed to delivering the changes to Lanark Road and would not be able to cover any additions of this nature, especially at the amounts you have provided. An additional £60k would be approximately a 40% increase in the value of the Lanark Road scheme. While I can see that the Lanark Road Scheme, and these bridge repairs/replacements share some of the same rationale, and can certainly see the value in repairing the bridges in the context of Covid-19, I don’t think that the SfP budget would be able to support this. The only way this could change would be if Sustrans decided that these bridge improvements were eligible – however the SfP team would then need to consider whether they represented the best use of the council’s limited allocation of funds which is already fully accounted for, meaning that any use of SfP budget towards these bridges would likely require the removal of other schemes from the programme.”

With regard to the bridge closures in the Dells, we understand the importance of these routes to the local community however, we will not be able to progress works to re-open these bridges until we have secured the appropriate funding.

The steps to/from Dell Road are closed due to a landslip.  We have appointed a geotechnical expert consultant to undertake a condition survey and report which will include options for proposed remedial works, including associated costs.  This is the first step in understanding what will be required to stabilise the slope and reopen the path.  We met with the Consultants, following their initial survey work, on 22nd October, we are now waiting on clarification regarding a few points and costed options for remedial works.  We had hoped faster progress would have been made however, this has been hindered due to staff resources and sickness.  We can only apologise for the delay and will get back to you with a fuller response in due course.