New early release signals for cyclists planned for tram route

New traffic signals which give cyclists a head-start ahead of other traffic are being proposed under the latest plans for safety improvements along Edinburgh's tram route.

Early release signal for cyclists
An early release signal for cyclists

Early release signals, which are already operating at the junction of Leith Walk and McDonald Road and have been successfully used in other UK cities such as York and London, are part of a range of proposals going out to public consultation today. 

The Council's transport team has been working closely with Spokes and Sustrans, in consultation with Living Streets, to develop a programme of road changes aimed at improving safety for cyclists along the tram route, in particular between Haymarket Yards and York Place. 

The first phase was implemented in autumn 2017 and consisted of new red-surfaced cycle lanes at a number of key locations to help make it easier to cross tram tracks. 

Phase two comprises new Advanced Stop Line (ASL) boxes at five locations along the on-street section of the route - these are set to be installed and operational by the end of this month [March]. 

Today, a public consultation about proposals for Phase three goes live on the Council's Consultation Hub.

As well as the early release signals at 14 junctions along the on-street section of the tram route, the plans include two options for the Haymarket junction at Grosvenor Street, changes to the cycle lane alignment at Haymarket Station and a new mandatory cycle lane where Princes Street meets South St Andrew Street. 

Other proposals include a new traffic island at Haymarket Yards, a new crossing following cycle desire lines over the tram route at Cultins Road and improvements to the traffic island and ASL box at the junction with Princes Street and South Charlotte Street. 

Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: "With the first phase of cycle safety improvements already in place - and, according to our feedback, well-received by cyclists  - and the second phase just weeks away from being implemented, we're now looking to the public for feedback on our proposed designs for Phase three, which we aim to put in place later this year. 

"Road safety is absolutely paramount and we've been working extremely closely with our partners to refine these designs. Early release signals for cyclists have been credited with reducing collisionsin cities where they're already used so these are a particularly desirable option. 

"The consultation is now live on our Consultation Hub and will run until 11 April 2018. We want to hear from as many people as possible to ensure we get this right so please do have your say and spread the word."

Consultations have been under way for some time between specialist consultants working on the Council's behalf and cycling groups, including Spokes and Sustrans, to assess areas of potential conflict between cyclists and tramlines (chiefly in the city centre) and to develop proposals for improvements.

This work was ongoing when a fatal collision occurred on 31 May 2017 at the junction of Shandwick Place and Queensferry Street, in which Malaysian student Zhi Min Soh tragically lost her life.  

On 29 June 2017, the Council approved a motion calling for a number of actions to be undertaken to improve conditions for vulnerable road users in the city centre and at various locations along the tram route.  These actions included undertaking reviews of infrastructure at the junction at the west end of Princes Street where the fatal collision happened, and of tram infrastructure in the city centre and at South Gyle/Edinburgh Park to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety and convenience.  The motion also called for the design of any future tram line extension to reflect Council policies to prioritise pedestrian and cyclist safety and convenience. 

The consultation on Phase three of tram cycle safety improvements runs from today until 11 April 2018, with the bulk of the proposed changes planned to be implemented towards the end of 2018. 

The fourth and final phase of improvements will comprise improvements to the road layout at the Princes Street/Lothian Road/Shandwick Place/Queensferry Street/Hope Street junction to address safety for cyclists and pedestrians. This phase of the project will be progressed as part of the Central Edinburgh Transformation programme.

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