February 2015

Awareness grows on bus lane cutbacks

[Update 14.2.15 – Our full objection is now downloadable below]
[Update‘What you say’ article on the Council plans]

Awareness of the Council’s planned scrapping of daytime and Saturday bus lanes is growing amongst the public and councillors [many of whom had little idea what was happening] …

The Council has prepared an Order which would scrap all bus lanes on Saturdays and at offpeak hours on weekdays (with a few exceptions such as contra-flow lanes).  There would be an 18-month experiment, before the scheme is made permanent.  A separate Order would allow motorbikes into bus lanes.

There has been no public consultation and the Council, as the Committee report clearly shows, paid little attention to the impact on cyclists of the drastic cutbacks in bus lane hours, and none at all to pedestrians.   Spokes has therefore linked up with Living Streets to prepare a combined objection.   Since Leith Walk is one of the affected streets, the Greener Leith community organisation is also supporting the objection, as is Friends of the Earth Scotland, who are concerned about toxic pollution.

Our full objection, as submitted to the Council, is here [pdf 311k].

Our objection argues in detail that the proposals should be rejected for the following reasons…

  • They contradict policies in the Council’s own Local Transport Strategy
  • The impact on cycling and cyclists
  • The impact on walking and walkers, including children walking home from school
  • Toxic traffic pollution may worsen on the footway
  • Permitting motorcycles in bus lanes likely to result in more breaking of speed limits
  • Consultation with the public was non-existent, and did not consider walking or cycling
  • Monitoring over 9 or even 18 months cannot uncover long-term impacts on modal shift
  • Leith Walk’s government-supported ‘exemplary’ project is compromised – and this could also impact on the Council’s ability to attract government funding for similar future schemes
  • The proposals give the wrong message to Edinburgh’s citizens as to how the Council wishes the City to develop, and may result over the long term in negative modal shift.


[update:  the date for objections is now passed, but the final decision by councillors will not be made for a good many weeks, so please act on the bullet points 2-4]

  •  The case will be greatly strengthened if concerned individuals – you? – also object.  Our previous article tells you how to do this – please join other people who have already objected.
  • You can help further by emailing your councillors and asking them to support you.   Several people have done this and the results are fascinating – see below.
  • If you use twitter please copy and paste the link below then retweet our main tweet – which as you will see is already starting to get a healthy number of RTs …   https://twitter.com/SpokesLothian/status/562902571208437760
  • Do you belong to a relevant organisation?  For example a school or playgroup which is concerned about cars and lorries next to the footway when kids are walking home?  Ask them to object and to email their local councillors.  Already several schools have responded to some of our tweets on this issue.


We are fascinated by some of the responses we have heard from members who have contacted their councillors, and from other sources.   We could be wrong, but we suspect that not many councillors knew about these major proposals unless they happened to be on the Transport Committee.   This is the picture re all the councillors we have heard about so far…

  • Two Labour councillors (one senior) have retweeted or favourited one of our tweets about the impact on kids walking home from school
  • Senior Labour councillor: “I wasn’t aware of this proposal.  I can see that there may be a case for standardisation of bus lane times, preferably all day in my view, but my initial reaction would be leave Saturday restrictions in place, for many of the reasons that you have outlined.
  • Conservative:I share many of your concerns about this move which, in my opinion, is not really the answer to alleviating traffic congestion.
  • Green: “I support Spokes’s view on this.”
  • Labour (senior):  Keen to have bus lanes rationalised so they are all the same hours, but doesn’t mind if it is all-day or peak-only.
  • Conservative:  The only councillor who we have heard fully behind the plan.

Two of the senior Councillors involved in the decision-making have also replied, their main point being that all parties at a Committee meeting last August agreed to the experiment.  However, the only justification given is that motorists find it confusing to have some lanes all-day and some peak-hour only.  This argument, in our view, really cannot equate to all the negatives.

Such a major change, lasting 1.5 years, and perhaps permanent, should certainly not go ahead without prior public consultation, listing all options : peak only, all-day, or 24/7.   Meanwhile Glasgow has been consulting on that very question!




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