Edinburgh Council Transport Committee is expected to decide on June 2nd whether to press on with its controversial proposal to cut weekday bus lane hours and scrap Saturday bus lanes entirely. We urge the Council either to scrap its plan or to postpone a decision and follow Glasgow’s example of first consulting on all the options…
Like Edinburgh, Glasgow City Council wished to rationalise its bus lane times because it felt the existing hotch-potch of times was too confusing for the motorist. The aim being that all bus lanes would operate for the same times and days, though probably with a few unavoidable exceptions.
Unlike Edinburgh, Glasgow consulted on 3 options…
- peak times only
- 7-7-7 i.e. 7am-7pm, 7 days a week
- 24/7 i.e. all bus lanes operational at all times.
Glasgow’s consultation resulted in a clear preference for either 24/7 or 7-7-7 and the council decided to go with 7-7-7 [subject of course to the statutory Traffic Regulation Order process which gives the opportunity for people to object to individual cases].
In contrast, Edinburgh decided to go direct for peak-only bus lanes [the least popular option in Glasgow’s consultation] including scrapping Saturday bus lanes entirely. This would be done through a lengthy 1½ year trial with a view to becoming permanent if ‘successful.’ There was no consultation on options, only limited consultation on this single proposal [see our new briefing paper].
The proposal directly contradicts Edinburgh City Council’s own Local Transport Strategy [LTS] which promises to prioritise buses and enhance bus lanes.
Policy PubTrans1: The Council will presume in favour of giving buses and Trams priority over other motorised traffic.
Policy PubTrans7: The Council will continue to maintain the bus lane network, review it regularly and extend it or enhance it where opportunities arise.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU?
Edinburgh’s proposal will worsen conditions for walkers and cyclists during the experiment, and permanently if it is continued. It is clear from a Council Committee report that, in deciding on this option, the Council looked in detail at the potential impact on buses and cars but gave virtually no consideration to pedestrians or cyclists on the question of bus lane timings.
The Local Transport Strategy (above) begins its Cycling section [9.2] by saying, “The attractiveness of cycling is dependent on the degree to which the road network is dominated by moving or parked motor vehicles.”
Until we have segregated cycle facilities on arterial roads, bus lanes provide a wide area of roadspace in which this “domination by moving or parked vehicles” is significantly reduced. Off-peak lanes are really important when using a bike for shopping, school travel, and a multitude of other offpeak journey types. Many of these trips are by the less confident cyclist, who is understandably deterred by the constant presence of cars and lorries but can just about cope with a well-trained Lothian Buses driver.
A council with a target of 10% of all trips by bike in 2020 (not just commuting trips) should not be removing this facility – or, at least, not until segregated cycling provision is made.
The LTS begins its walking section with policy Walk1, “The Council will seek opportunities to improve pedestrian facilities…”
Nowhere is there a policy to downgrade pedestrian facilities, yet that is exactly what this proposal will do for footways along 22 kilometres of Edinburgh arterial roads. Instead of being separated from the footway by the bus lane, lorries and cars will be right next to it throughout the off-peak day and all day Saturday. This means increased pollution, noise, splashing, scariness and, on occasions, danger.
Interestingly, the first response received by the Council after the installation of its first ever cycle lane was not from a cyclist but from a pedestrian who said how nice it was pushing her pram along with no more splashing from lorries (and of course a bus lane gives even more protection).
Finally, the council’s plan to abolish off-peak bus lanes will particularly hit school children walking home as well as families out walking to the shops or the park on Saturdays.
WHAT IS HAPPENING
- Spokes, Living Streets, Greener Leith and FOE (Scotland) submitted a joint objection to the draft Order which will be decided on June 2.
- Many individuals also lodged objections.
- Spokes has prepared a new briefing paper covering Glasgow’s decision and describing Edinburgh’s minimal consultation process.
- Here is our original tweet – now retweeted 40 times, showing the level of concern. The tweet includes the map of affected bus lanes.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- If you agree with us, please contact your councillors urgently. Ask them to speak to the Transport Convener and colleagues, and to support you at the Transport Committee if they are on it.