Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes writes in today's Edinburgh Evening News on plans for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in East Craigs.
I take every opportunity to listen to the views of residents on transport policy and projects, big and small, and last Friday I got the chance to hear from people in East Craigs about our plans for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN). Local concern around the implementation of this scheme is no secret, but context is key, and I wanted to understand exactly what the issues are, and how we can address these.
The strength of feeling around these measures is clear, and I want to reassure all those local people who came along to Gyle Park that their comments and questions did not fall on deaf ears. Our team have collated the themes discussed and are looking closely at how we can respond to them as we move forward with the scheme.
These measures are not being introduced lightly, and build on a great deal of traffic modelling, research and consultation carried out as part of the West Edinburgh Link project. While there are many who are against our plans, there are also those in the area who are in favour of these measures and their voices deserve to be heard too.
There are many factors that have led us to the introduction of a temporary LTN. Craigs Road, where we want to bring in a bus gate, is used for ‘rat running’ (additional through traffic caused by drivers avoiding busier routes) on a regular basis. Over the last two years we have had consistent feedback from the local community that more provision for walking, wheeling and cycling is both needed and welcomed. And we want to bring the benefits of quieter, safer streets to children and communities in the whole area.
Ultimately, the proposals discussed on Friday and over recent weeks are temporary, as part of our Spaces for People programme to create socially distanced streets, paths and pavements for residents in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis is not over, as evidenced by the overnight news about Glasgow, for example, and we simply must create adequate space for people to walk, cycle or wheel safely. The beauty of this scheme’s temporary nature is that we’re able to monitor and tweak it where necessary – and also to build on it as part of long-term plans. If the East Craigs LTN does become a permanent part of West Edinburgh Link, it will be a key part of our active travel plan for the wider West Edinburgh area.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are not a new idea– they’re already successfully used across the UK as a way of modernising older housing areas and making them safer by removing through traffic from an entire residential area. Not only has it been proven to significantly reduce the volume of traffic in both residential streets and the wider residential area, it can also invoke ‘traffic evaporation’, where residents no longer use cars for short trips and instead switch to other modes of transport.
However, we know that every area is unique. What has worked in other areas may not suit East Craigs and we are not in the business of making life harder for local people. That is why these measures are only being implemented on a temporary basis at this time and will be altered to include answers to key concerns being raised.
I believe East Craigs can be a successful LTN delivering a safer and healthier local community for everyone. However, I want residents to know I am listening and that I want to work together to create a positive vision for the East Craigs area.