September 2010
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Railway path attacks [updated 8 & 14 Oct]

A cyclist has been injured on the Davidson’s Mains path by children who dropped a tree sapling or branch on her from the footbridge between Silverknowes Neuk and House o’ Hill Avenue.

[Update 8 October – The council’s West Area community safety team (which is separate from but liaises closely with the local police) would like to be notified of times when there are congregations of young people in this area, so as to get an idea of the kind of times when problems may arise.   Their contact is Susan Carson 0131 469 5460.   Secondly, the CTC has received a letter [pdf 31k] on how these problems are being addressed from Transport Convener Cllr Gordon Mackenzie.]

[Update 14 October – CTC’s Bill Coppock has received the following email which confirms that Drylaw police stn covers nearly all the North Ed network, and gives the relevant current police contact.   “I can advise that Drylaw police station covers the walkways from Davidson Mains To Victoria Park in Leith and out to Roseburn. My name is PC Keith Dickson 5172A, you can get me on the e-mail address Keith.Dickson@lbp.pnn.police.uk or 0131 311 3131. Myself and a few others will be out and about in uniform on police bikes patrolling the walkways when possible. Should you or your group have any problems please could you let me know about them.“]

Sadly, this sort of thing has happened on and off over the years – it seems like a group of youngsters gets the idea and this continues until there is effective police and/or community involvement, then it tends to largely die down (though maybe with sporadic incidents) until another lot of youngsters starts it up again at some future point, when perhaps also the police presence has become less. There were particularly big flare-ups where Spokes was involved in discussions in 2001 and in 2006.

Another type of attack is where a rope is stretched across the path, maybe too at a time when visibility is low – we know of one serious injury some years ago. Unfortunately the youngsters involved sometimes don’t seem to realise how serious their actions may be. In this case, after seeing what they had done, they phoned the ambulance before running away.

The most usual locations seem to be at or near footbridges over the path – particularly the bridge linking Telford Drive and Easter Drylaw Drive – although the recent attack above was at a different footbridge.

If you suffer such an incident please report it not just to the police but also to your local councillors.  Councillors should know the area well and have useful contacts with local groups as well as with the police. In the 2006 outbreak, local councillor Lesley Hinds was extremely helpful, arranging an onsite meeting with a senior police officer and some of the affected public, and raising the problem through various community organisations in the hope that local adult influence could be brought to bear, along with the police action.

The main problem areas fall in Inverleith ward, for which the councillors are Cllr Lesley Hinds (see previous para), Cllr Tim McKay (a cyclist and a Spokes member), Cllr Roy McIvor and Cllr Iain Whyte (former Conservative transport spokesperson).

If you live in another part of Edinburgh, you can find your councillors at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/councillors [there are now 3 or 4 councillors for each ward].

Another reason for involving councillors is that the problems could be reduced if the footbridges were removed and converted into at-grade crossings, giving better visibility and removing the option of dropping objects from them.  They are a redundant relic from when the path was a railway. Unfortunately removal would be costly, but if there are continuing serious attacks it should be considered. The Telford Drive to Easter Drylaw Drive bridge was in fact due to be removed as part of tram works – but this tramline section has of course now been postponed indefinitely.

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