September 2010

CEC Active Travel Action Plan

Edinburgh Council’s Active Travel Action Plan [ATAP], incorporating the Cycling Action Plan, has been finalised and agreed by the Council’s Transport Committee.

Links to the Active Travel Action Plan – and to the important accompanying Report to the Transport Committee – can be found on our ATAP downloads page.   More background to the development of ATAP can be found in our July 21 news item.

The plan’s core objective is “to increase the numbers of people in Edinburgh walking and cycling, both as a means of transport and for leisure.

The plan’s headline cycling targets are…

  • By 2020, 15% of journeys to work will be by bike [currently around 5%-6%]
  • By 2020, 10% of all journeys will be by bike [currently around 2%]
  • By 2020, the risk of death or serious injury on a cycling trip will be cut by 50%

The cycling section of the plan envisages…

  • A Family Network – mainly offroad and on quiet streets – and suitable for use by a 12-year-old cyclist.  This will link all parts of the city with important destinations such as the city centre, the Botanics, canal, etc.
  • A Cycle Friendly City – the aim being “to make travel by bike anywhere in the city convenient and attractive” for day-to-day cyclists such as commuters and shoppers.   This aim will be developed through two initiatives – a programme of upgrades on main roads and a series of area-wide improvements [starting with the already announced south-central Edinburgh corridor – see Spokes Bulletin 105].

Some of the more exciting promises in the plan include…

  • By April 2014, implement 13 major missing Family Network links, including early action on Innocent connection to Meadows, Roseburn to Princes St, North Edinburgh path to Botanics (east and west) and (many people will be delighted!) A90 route to Queensferry and Forth Bridge.   Other of these links by 2014 include Meadows to North Edinburgh via city centre, Portobello to Leith to North Edinburgh, Union Canal to North Edinburgh paths.  Outline designs for all these routes by April 2011.
  • By April 2014, complete the first area package (south-central Edinburgh) including a Quality Bike Corridor (by end 2011) from the city centre to Newington to Kings Buildings and the Royal Infirmary, plus widespread 20mph limits, parking, promotion, etc.  The likely second area will be west from the city centre, followed possibly by the North East.
  • By April 2013, upgrade main road cyclist provision on sections of the A1, A7, A701, A772, A702, A70, A71, A8 and A90.
  • By Dec 2012, prepare plans for new main road cyclist provision on sections of A90, Portobello Rd, Colinton Rd, Morningside Rd, Comiston Rd, Easter Rd.
  • Review car parking permissions in all cycle lanes.
  • Revise maintenance rules to ensure by April 2011 ‘regular programmed maintenance of lines and coloured surfacingfor onroad bus and cycle facilities.
  • Exempt cyclists from all suitable 1-ways and road closures.
  • Bike parking – several commitments for residential and public bike parking, with date timescales, including city centre bike parking to be upgraded by Sept 2011.
  • By Sept 2011, install one or more public display bike counters – as used in several European cities as a promotional measure.
  • A range of cycle training and promotional initiatives, including all primary school children to receive training by 2016/7.
  • And many more initiatives …  see the Plan, including its detailed appendices.

The biggest uncertainty over the plan is the level of funding and staffing in future years.  These issues are not discussed in the plan itself, but in the Committee Report.  The council is hopeful that if funding continues at its current 2010/11 level then much or all of the above can be achieved in the planned timescales.  However, much of the current funding is from government sources, whose future awaits the outcome of this autumn’s Spending Review.  The committee report, for example, states, “Any withdrawal of the Scottish Government’s CWSS funding is likely to have serious implications for the potential to implement the ATAP. Targets, especially the ambitious cycling targets, are unlikely to be met in this scenario.”  In terms of staffing the plan is looking to working with other agencies to boost existing effort.

Whilst Spokes is delighted at the emergence of the plan and much of its content, and will work to support its implementation, not all our ideas have been included.    For example

  • We suggested some coverage of funding and staffing in the plan itself, rather than leaving it all to the committee report as has been done.  In the present climate that is understandable, but it leaves future resourcing less clearcut than is ideal, and will require lobbying every year during the council’s budget preparation.  It will probably depend even more on the lead set (or not set) by the Scottish Government each year in terms of cycling and dedicated cycle funding.
  • We are very disappointed that there is no mention of some critical city centre main roads, particularly Princes Street, but also the heavily trafficked Picardy Place, and other central-area tramline-affected areas such as Leith Walk.   These surely are absolutely essential as part of the cycle-friendly city (if not the family network) – as was highlighted in the recent Spokes public meeting and survey – yet they are not mentioned.   Nor is there any reference to the twice-promised consultation on the future of Princes Street [see public meeting reports 23.3.10 – Transport Convener Cllr Mackenzie and 19.11.09 – Transport Head Marshall Poulton].
  • We had hoped for commitment to the piloting of at least one on-road physically segregated route.   This is not included – although the plan several times states that these will be considered, for example where the family network has to use main road connections.

Finally – we urge Spokes members and other readers not to sit back just because there is a Cycle Action Plan.  Sitting back is the surest way to get the plan pigeonholed and eventually lost in a filing cabinet.   Rather – use the Plan in your lobbying of councillors!   Perhaps most important of all – help us to ensure that the money is there.   This means lobbying your MSPs in the run up to this Autumn’s Spending Review, then the Scottish Budget this winter – and again in advance of the May 2011 Holyrood elections.

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