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.

Spaces for People Update – Braid Road & Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route

Below is the latest on the reopening of Braid Road southbound, and the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route. When compared to the last set of plans, there are quite a few changes – not least vehicle access for the Braid Hills Hotel.

I am grateful for the time that has been invested in producing the latest set of plans. As I stated at the workshop, it is not clear to me that the safest route for the “Quiet Route” has been selected. I also do not feel that I have seen sufficient data to understand why reopening Braid Road southbound was selected in preference to the viable alternatives. Lastly, I feel that there has not been sufficient engagement with local businesses and residents. Nonetheless, I am keen that we see some progress with Braid Road prior to schools returning after the Easter Break so I am happy for the southbound reopening to progress so that the impact on public transport may be tested.

Briefing
Thanks a lot to those of you who submitted comments regarding the design proposals. These have resulted in further revisions to the designs, notably:

  • Retaining two way operation on Braid Road between Braid Hills Drive and the main entrance to the Braid Hills Hotel
  • Removing the northbound cycleway on Braid Road between Braid Hills Drive and the main entrance to the Braid Hills Hotel – thus retaining parking for residents on this stretch
  • Closing the southbound ‘slip road’ between Braid Road and Hermitage Drive to discourage southbound journeys from Morningside Clock utilising Braid Road
    • This will continue to be monitored following implementation and it is acknowledged that further measures may be required to discourage through traffic on Braid Road between Morningside Clock and Hermitage Drive
  • Including pavement widening at the southeast side of the junction of Braid Road and Hermitage Drive

The designs were approved, subject to relevant revisions including those outlined above, by CIMT yesterday. Revised designs and the AFF for this project are attached (designs may still be subject to minor revisions in advance of and during delivery).

Project delivery is scheduled to commence next Thursday 8th April. Braid Road is expected to open to Southbound traffic via Hermitage Drive the following Friday 16th April, in advance of Schools returning from the Easter Holidays.

Spaces for People – Re-opening Braid Road to Southbound Traffic

Linked below are the Council’s plans for re-opening of Braid Road southbound and the southern extent of the “Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route“. These include changes such as the inclusion of footway widening at the junction of Cluny Drive and Midmar Drive, and the inclusion of an extra diagonal filter on Hermitage Gardens.

If you have an questions or comments, please e-mail me (Scott.Arthur@Edinburgh.Gov.UK) or the Spaces for People team directly (spacesforpeople@edinburgh.gov.uk).

The Council will accept feedback up until Monday 29 March. Following this, the project will be presented for approval at the meeting of the “Covid Incident Management Team” on Thursday 1 April. If approved delivery will commence during the w/c 5th April.

The Council is also running a consultation on making the Spaces for People schemes permanent. You can find more details on this here.

The Plans

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 (now extended to the 5th of April). 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: