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Refining and expanding upon Edinburgh’s Spaces for People initiatives

Posted: 9th November 2020
  • Programme review aims to ensure measures are working for as many people as possible
  • Approval sought for several more complex schemes for better walking, cycling and wheeling
  • Nine new measures proposed following Commonplace consultation

Councillors are set to consider the next steps for the city’s ambitious Spaces for People programme, as well as reviewing the success of some of the schemes already delivered.

On Thursday (12 November), members of the Transport and Environment Committee will discuss an update on the initiative, which aims to create safer, more welcoming conditions for walking, cycling and wheeling while physical distancing guidance is in place.

The update includes changes to improve some of the measures as part of our ‘try then modify’ approach, based on feedback from residents and stakeholders, officers’ own findings and Road Safety Audits. Alongside this, the report seeks approval for several more complex schemes, such as proposals for cycle segregation on Lanark Road, Longstone Road and Inglis Green Road and options for enhancing connectivity between Greenbank and the Meadows.

It also covers analysis of feedback received via the online Commonplace tool in May and June, which gathered more than 4100 public suggestions for improving streets. Analysis has been used to identify nine additional schemes for implementation, to be put to committee for approval.

A separate report on proposals for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in East Craigs as part of Spaces for People, following consideration by Full Council in October and subsequent legal advice, puts forward recommendations for committee decision. These include a recommendation to approve a further change in design which centres on measures on Craigs Road and which would benefit movement around Craigmount High School.

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said:

“Since May we’ve made real progress to create safer, more welcoming spaces for walking, cycling and wheeling while we continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic. There’s no sign of the current conditions changing anytime soon and it’s paramount that we continue to provide protected routes for the many people who don’t own cars and while public transport is at a lower capacity.

“The advantage of introducing these measures on a temporary basis is that we’re able to tweak and improve on schemes based on feedback and monitoring and this update demonstrates that we are doing that. Thanks to the thousands of comments received through our Commonplace tool we’re also going to be able to introduce changes that further meet the needs of pedestrians and cyclists across the city.”

Transport and Environment Vice Convener Councillor Karen Doran said:

“We know how much these changes mean to residents, local businesses and community groups. We’ve had lots of fantastic feedback from those benefiting from improvements but we’re also aware of some of the concerns people have had, which is why we’re carrying out these regular reviews, and holding a full discussion on some of the more complex schemes coming forward.”

In August Policy and Sustainability Committee agreed to receive updates on the Spaces for People programme every two months, including reviews of delivered schemes. Following the latest reviews, it is recommended that 18 of the interventions continue as usual, or with minor revisions.

Amongst four measures highlighted for more significant amendments are the closure of Warriston Road, which is no longer considered necessary due to decreased pressure on the North Edinburgh Path Network. On Victoria Street, it is proposed to allow limited servicing access to enable delivery and servicing access where required. And Silverknowes Road (north section), which is currently closed, would be reopened to public transport, along with a segregated cycle lane, if approved.

Four broader schemes will be considered by councillors on Thursday, rather than agreed under delegated authority, due to their complexity. On South Bridge, it is proposed to introduce a bus gate, footpath widening and segregated cycleways, while cycle segregation and revised parking arrangements on Lanark Road, Longstone Road and Inglis Green Road will go before councillors. Committee will also be asked to approve one of two options for the route between Greenbank and the Meadows, building upon the strategic context of the existing three interventions in the area (Braid Road, Braidburn Terrace and Comiston Road).

Analysis of Commonplace feedback identified clusters of comments, areas where particular issues affect pedestrians and cyclists and ‘agreements’ with comments. This has led to recommendations for nine additional schemes, as well as contributing to a project with Living Streets to define and schedule the removal of non-essential street furniture to improve walking conditions.

The report also outlines other activities to create better spaces for walking and cycling, amongst which are measures to improve access to schools, a review of winter maintenance plans and the potential introduction of planters, benches or parklets on Victoria Street and Cockburn Street.

Read the full report, Spaces for People Update – November 2020, online and watch the Transport and Environment Committee live via webcast.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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