Responses to a major consultation and market research exercise on perceptions of Spaces for People measures, and whether they should be retained, have been published today (Wednesday, 2 June).
More than 17,600 people responded to our public consultation in March, which asked respondents about their familiarity with schemes introduced to help people walk, cycle and wheel safely during the COVID pandemic, and whether they would like to see them kept longer-term.
Alongside this, market research was carried out by independent market research consultants on our behalf, providing a statistically representative sample of opinion from a cross section of residents.
Officers are assessing each scheme for retention using a set of criteria agreed at January’s Transport and Environment Committee, including whether they encourage walking and cycling, how they impact businesses and whether they affect public transport. The longer-term contribution to the Council's strategic transport objectives will also be considered.
Feedback gathered through consultation and market research will be taken into account as part of the assessments and will help guide recommendations on which schemes to keep beyond the pandemic, which will be considered by Transport and Environment Committee on 17 June.
Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said:
Firstly, I want to thank all those who took the time to complete the consultation. The changes we have introduced reach across Edinburgh, so we wanted to hear from as many different people in communities around the city as possible.
Officers have been assessing each of the schemes for retention using a set of criteria agreed by committee and responses to the consultation and market research will be part of this process, helping to form recommendations for the best way forward.
I look forward to constructive debate with fellow councillors on the future of these schemes, and how they can benefit residents and visitors to Edinburgh longer term.
Transport and Environment Vice Convener Councillor Karen Doran said:
Over the last year we’ve introduced many measures to help people physically distance and travel safely during the pandemic, and there have been a range of opinions shared on their effectiveness and impacts on the people who live here.
Thanks to the feedback gathered in March, we’ll now be able to take people’s comments and ideas into account as we assess each scheme, meaning a rounded approach as we move beyond the pandemic.
Questions in both the consultation and market research focused on how much people supported or opposed retaining changes in place, what they considered to be the main benefits or disadvantages of retaining measures and which schemes people would especially like to see retained or removed.
While there were differences in the level of support or opposition for schemes between consultation and market research results, in general, for both, participants shared the strongest support for measures at schools, followed by schemes in the city centre. Both reported lower rates of support for town centre interventions and protected cycle lanes, with the lowest levels of support for leisure connections and Quiet Connections, with many market research respondents saying they weren’t aware of these changes.
We began introducing Spaces for People measures in May 2020 in order to help people physically distance, travel safely and exercise during the COVID pandemic. In January 2021 it was agreed to explore the potential for retaining some of the schemes longer-term, in recognition of their impact on Council objectives to encourage walking and cycling, improve air quality, reduce congestion and achieve net zero carbon emissions, amongst other commitments.
Three separate surveys aimed at residents, businesses and stakeholders were conducted for the consultation. This was made available in a range of formats including regular print, large print, braille and translation into other languages. A British Sign Language video was also displayed on the project website to further widen access to people with hearing loss.
Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes has written in today's Edinburgh Evening News (Wednesday, 2 June) on the aims of Spaces for People, and plans to move forward with the programme.
Find out more about the market research and consultation responses online.