City set for next phase of temporary active travel measures as restrictions are eased

Work to deliver a package of measures supporting walking, cycling and wheeling in Edinburgh is continuing apace, as more than 1,700 residents share their own suggestions for improvements.

From today, we will begin implementing two temporary segregated cycle lanes on Old Dalkeith Road and Crewe Road South, providing safer routes as traffic increases for essential workers travelling to the city’s main hospitals, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Western General.

The next set of interventions will focus on supporting economic recovery, as and when businesses begin to reopen, in line with the Scottish Government’s phased approach to lifting lockdown. Temporary changes will target the city centre and local high streets, helping people to visit these areas while maintaining physical distancing, without having to resort to private car use. We are aiming to introduce the first changes by the end of next week, which include:

  • The partial closure of Waverley Bridge at the junction with East Market Street, helping pedestrians and cyclists travel safely while meeting physical distancing requirements
  • Footway widening at junctions and a bus, cycle and taxi gate on North Bridge to improve pedestrian routes and aid cycling and public transport provision
  • Footway widening and a bus, cycle and taxi gate on East Princes Street and South St David Street

Each of these measures is currently undergoing an agreed five-day notification period with ward councillors, transport spokespeople, community councils and stakeholders including Living Streets, Spokes, the Edinburgh Access Panel and RNIB. Feedback will help the development of final, detailed designs and will inform refinements as appropriate once measures are implemented. This was the case on Crewe Road South, where we have worked to change cycle lanes from advisory to segregated in response to feedback received.

A dedicated team is now working through our remaining programme of measures, along with suggestions received, using an assessment framework of 16 scoring criteria. By applying weighted criteria, we can make sure we prioritise improvements that will deliver the greatest overall benefits within the short timeframe available.

Transport and Environment Convener Lesley Macinnes said:

We’re working quickly to deliver an ambitious package of measures to help people continue to walk, cycle, wheel and use public transport as we navigate our way out of this unprecedented situation.

Of course, we want to get these interventions on the ground as quickly as possible and there’s a lot of work going on to deliver temporary changes within tight timescales. But we’re also involving stakeholders in that process, including active travel and equality groups, to get designs for local schemes right, which takes a little bit of time.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of interest in and support for our plans, demonstrated by the many suggestions we’ve received via email and the Commonplace tool. I’d like to thank everyone who has had their say so far - our dedicated team will continue to work through these ideas, building on them where we can.

Transport and Environment Vice Convener Karen Doran said:

We’ve had a fantastic response to the measures we’ve already implemented across the city, which have made residents and their families feel safer strolling or cycling from their homes.

Today we begin installing two segregated cycle lanes to help essential workers cycle safely to our main hospitals. Next up, we’ll be implementing significant changes in our key shopping streets to encourage people to spend time there on foot, bike or wheelchair as businesses begin to reopen.

These interventions, paired with our Paths for Everyone campaign encouraging physical distancing on off-road paths, are essential to help encourage active travel as we return to a sense of normality.

Dave Keane, Infrastructure Manager, Sustrans Scotland, added:

The City of Edinburgh Council has shown great ambition to make it easier for people to get around safely on foot, by bike or wheelchair as we transition out of lockdown.

We hope people living in Edinburgh will engage with the Commonplace mapping tool – it’s really simple, clear and easy to give feedback. Most importantly, it will help the council get a clear picture of what people think of the temporary measures already put in place and where other interventions are needed most.

The Commonplace tool, launched last Friday with Sustrans, lets people highlight barriers to safe physical distancing and suggest improvements on an interactive map. Since then we’ve received over 1,500 suggestions, which are in addition to around 200 suggestions already received via email. Feedback will be taken on board as much as possible - for example, measures proposed at East Princes Street and North Bridge directly respond to a number of concerns raised around narrow pavements and traffic volumes.

While we welcome every response, we won’t be able to deliver all the improvements suggested, with any work dependent on available funding, procurement of materials and the availability of contractors.

Next week, we’ll begin the notification process on the next phase of city centre measures, which we aim to implement during the week commencing 15 June and include:

  • Widened footways and segregated cycleways on George IV Bridge to allow people to access shops, bars and restaurants safely
  • Widened footways and a segregated uphill cycleway on the Mound and Bank Street for access to local businesses
  • Reduced through traffic and widened pavements on South Bridge for better pedestrian access
  • Introduction of a short section of segregated cycleway on Forrest Road, leading towards George IV Bridge

From 15 June we will also be notifying stakeholders of plans for footway widening and servicing arrangements in local town centres. These include: Morningside, Bruntsfield, Tollcross, Gorgie/Dalry, Newington/Southside, Portobello, Corstorphine High Street and Queensferry High Street.

Aligning with future phases of the Scottish Government’s lifting of lockdown restrictions, later stages of the Spaces for People programme will support sustainable travel on key arterial routes and subsequently will focus on measures to make journeys to places of education as safe and sustainable as possible.

Several improvements are already in place across the city, with the first set of schemes aiming to facilitate safe and accessible routes to green spaces and local amenities. These have included partial road closures in Portobello, Warriston, Silverknowes and Leith and have been welcomed by communities, creating safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages and abilities.

Find out more about the Spaces for People programme and share your suggestions on the Council website.

Published: June 5th 2020