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Spaces for People update looks beyond pandemic

Posted: 22nd January 2021
  • Update report includes proposals for citywide consultation on long term plans
  • Several new schemes supporting walking, cycling and wheeling recommended for approval
  • Review also puts forward amendments to some existing measures

The latest review of Edinburgh’s ambitious Spaces for People programme proposes a citywide consultation and assessment criteria for retaining some of the schemes implemented once COVID restrictions are eased.

We’re rolling out measures across the Capital to create safe routes for walking, cycling and wheeling while physically distancing. On Thursday (28 January), Transport and Environment Committee will discuss recommendations to consider retaining some of the interventions, many of which align with the Council’s strategic aims, protecting vulnerable road users while encouraging active travel.

Assessment criteria have been developed to help ascertain whether current projects, or elements of them, should be continued, initially on an experimental basis. If agreed by committee, a citywide consultation would be carried out alongside this assessment, seeking the public’s views on which interventions they would like to see retained beyond the COVID pandemic. The results of this would be reported back to committee.

The Spaces for People Update report also puts forward several, more complex projects and the outcomes of a regular review of existing measures for approval. Two schemes have been recommended for amendments under the review, one of which is the Braid Road closure. It is proposed to reopen the street one-way southbound to help reduce public transport times and limit the impact of intrusive traffic on local streets, in response to feedback from residents and Lothian Buses.

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said:

“We’re continuing apace with our ambitious programme of Spaces for People measures designed to give people space to physically distance and to provide safe, protected routes for making journeys by foot, bike or wheelchair.

“We’ve had a great deal of positive feedback from people benefiting from these changes and we know from our own monitoring that many of them are having a positive impact on surrounding areas. That’s why we’re beginning to think about the potential for retaining some of the schemes implemented as part of Spaces for People beyond the end of the pandemic, though we know this is some way off.

“Of course, any longer-term project would involve a great deal of engagement and consultation with communities – we want to bring the people of Edinburgh along with us. But by focusing on an ‘experimental’ approach we would be able to continually monitor and evaluate projects, responding to residents’ needs to best serve the public.”

Transport and Environment Vice Convener Councillor Karen Doran said:

“This latest update illustrates the breadth of work that’s gone into designing, reviewing and implementing these schemes. It’s with thanks to the Spaces for People team that we’ve been able to get so many interventions on the ground over recent months.

“Of course, we recognise that there have been concerns about some of the measures from community members, and it’s understandable with changes like these. We’ve made every effort to respond where possible, and continue to tweak and revise designs, as this review demonstrates.”

Amongst the schemes recommended for approval are the introduction of segregated cycle lanes and a quiet connection on Silverknowes Road while a protected cycleway on Slateford Road would link Spaces for People measures on Lanark Road and Dundee Street to provide an alternative route to the Union Canal.

Committee will also hear about the progress of improvements developed using public feedback from the Commonplace consultation as well as the latest designs for interventions on South Bridge. An update on work to enhance access and safety around schools provides information on temporary road closures, footpath-widening and parking restrictions introduced at primary and secondary schools around Edinburgh.

In addition, efforts to create a better environment for pedestrians include a partnership with Living Streets to identify and remove non-essential street furniture, to which £300k has been allocated, and an extra £100k assigned to improving pedestrian crossings around the city.

Read the full report, Spaces for People Update – January 2021, on the Council website. You can watch Transport and Committee live from 10am on Thursday, 28 January, on the Council webcast.

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