January 2016

City Centre East-West route

Consultation on Edinburgh’s planned major new cycleroute ends on February 1st.  It is vital for you to respond to the consultation…

Stop Press 28.1.16:  The full Spokes submission is here.  It begins, “SPOKES compliments the Council on its ambition in producing these proposals, which we warmly welcome.”    We thank the many Spokes members who worked on this major submission and/or sent us ideas and comments to be considered for it.   See here for related documents.    

This is undoubtedly the most important ever Edinburgh consultation on a cycling project, providing a largely segregated route from Roseburn, through the city centre via George Street, and continuing to the future segregated lanes in Leith Walk and Picardy Place.  As Spokes had urged at an early stage, the Council has also incorporated a connection to North Bridge via a segregated section in east Princes Street, though details of the junction remain to be worked out.

The project will take space from parked and moving motor traffic, and as such it is now generating opposition – so your support is vital.

In our cycling ‘bubble,’ where cycling has so many positives, it can be difficult to imagine how opposition can build up.  But, as Spokes had already warned, this is likely to happen when even small amounts of car space are threatened.

And it is now happening, with a petition and glossy brochure opposing the onroad segregated section at Roseburn – see below.   The petition has been signed by local SNP and Conservative councillors and is supported by shopkeepers who fear that they will lose trade.*  There is also opposition, though less strong, further in along Haymarket Terrace, at the east end of Princes Street and elsewhere.  However we know of many Labour and Green councillors, and some SNP councillors, who do support the plan, as do the Labour and LibDem Edinburgh West candidates for Holyrood Cat Headley and Alex Cole-Hamilton.

*Evidence that shops often overestimate the value of car customers, and don’t lose trade from cycleroute developments (and often benefit) is in the last 2 documents on this page.

Spokes Planning Group has studied the proposals in depth and is convinced that overall the Council has got it right.   We therefore urge readers to respond to the consultation in a positive way, saying how pleased you are to see the Council coming forward with an ambitious scheme like this [assuming you are!] and only then going on to point out what further improvements or changes, if any, you would like.

Details of the consultation are at… https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/roseburntoleith

How to respond…

  • Online survey at the above website <– We recommend everyone does this
  • Email to cyclingprojects.consultation@edinburgh.gov.uk <– Use this in addition, if you wish to make extra comments.  [If you respond by email, we’d like to see a copy of your comments so we can consider including them in the Spokes submission].
  • Ask friends and colleagues who cycle – or who might when conditions are improved – to respond also.  As there is opposition to the scheme, the number of supportive responses is critical.
  • If you live in Roseburn/Murrayfield area, or elsewhere near the route  please also email your councillors now, to show there is plenty support for the project.   Find your councillors here.
  • If you’re on twitter please also retweet our main tweet on the consultation.

The petitions…

Most importantly, please do respond to the council formally as above, but in addition note that there are now two online petitions, one for the council scheme, and one against. For fairness we give links to both below. Please sign whichever you support.

  • Petition in favour of the council scheme  This is the scheme supported by Spokes Planning Group who have considered the scheme in detail and are preparing our official response.  The route is direct and the overall plans enhance Roseburn’s traffic-dominated conditions by narrowing the car space and improving conditions for pedestrians – in turn making the local shops more attractive to walkers and cyclists.
  • Petition against the council scheme  This petition asks that the route instead goes via Russell Road and then follows the existing convoluted back road /path route through Haymarket Yards, leading up beside the tramlines to Haymarket Terrace, where several cyclists have been injured in tramline crashes – see below.

Haymarket Yards tramline crashes

The alternative route suggested in the ‘anti’ petition includes the Haymarket Yards hill where the distance between tramlines and kerb is grossly substandard.   Spokes has received several reports of tramline crashes here – there will be others who we don’t know about – and these are some direct quotes from victims…

August 2015
I am reporting a crash caused by the tram tracks that my daughter Beth had this afternoon.   She was travelling eastwards along Haymarket yards and had started the short uphill stretch to Haymerket Terrace. About 1/2 way up, going quite slowly, her front wheel slipped on the most westerly tram track and she fell to the ground. Fortunately she was unhurt though a small baggage carrier was bent out of shape and may need to be replaced. Her tyres are wide and could not have become jammed in the tracks.
Jan 2015
I am reporting my cycle accident which happened having turned left at the lights at Clifton/Haymarket terrace into Haymarket Yards.  While crossing over to the (ridiculously narrow) marked cycle path, my front wheel slipped along the wet steel of the tram track, getting stuck in the actual track groove. I was thrown from my bike, bruising my elbow and hands.  I also hurt my back, resulting in pain across my ribs and stomach for the next 2 days.  I have the details of 2 witnesses as well as pictures of the bruising. Luckily, the 2 people who checked I was ok managed to help me up before the next airport-bound tram came around the corner.
June 2014
I was cycling home from work and was crossing over the tracks at Haymarket Yards (coming down the hill from haymarket station) and hit them at the wrong angle and crashed.  Two passerbys helped me off the road and I got a taxi home with my bike (which had a buckled front wheel from the crash).  I sprained an ankle and a wrist, and seem to have caused more serious damage to my knee as it still hasn’t recovered now – i can’t put pressure on the top of my knee without pain.
I was a week into cycling from home to work and trying to replace my daily commute with a bike when I crashed.  I haven’t cycled to work since, as the crash shook me up quite a bit and I need to find an alternate route that doesn’t involve tram tracks, as I won’t go near those things again.  Even taken at the right angle, they are dangerous and slippery, especially when there are cars and trams all around you.

Spokes preliminary thoughts and questions

Spokes Planning Group has a list of preliminary thoughts and questions about the entire project, as a first stage in preparing our formal response. If interested, our document is here.

It’s a long document – there’s no need for you to look at it, but if you do and have any comments, please email them to us asap (spokes@spokes.org.uk) asking for them to be passed to Planning Group. There are also links to our document and to the council web pages at spokes.org.uk – downloads – local – Edinburgh – City Centre.

[Later news]

1.  One of our members, Chris Paton, has prepared this document to show the Council’s proposed route is superior to the alternative via Russell Road and Haymarket Yards.

2.  Although Murrayfield Community Council [MCC] opposes the plans, an October 2014 Roseburn Action Plan from MCC highlights many problems at Roseburn Terrace which would be helped by the cycleroute plans.  Here are some relevant quotes from MCC’s report…

  • The vast increase in traffic has resulted in a noisy and congested area which is not a pleasant place for people.
  • The shopping area is hardly fit for purpose. The pavements are too narrow and the road too wide …  As a result of the above and the noisy, busy and smelly traffic the area is used only for local inhabitants to ‘pop in for a message’ and not to linger or walk there for pleasure.
  • The road is wide and inefficiently used. The Road Engineer must give up a reasonable amount of road space. They have after all managed to reduce the vehicle flow in the centre of the city so there must be room for improvement in Roseburn.

The Council’s cycleroute plan will address many of MCC’s concerns…

  • Narrow the carriageway used by motor traffic
  • On the south side of the road, widen the pavement
  • On the north side, introduce a 2-way cycleroute, separating pedestrians from the pollution and noise of motor traffic
  • Extra pedestrian crossing facilities at the Roseburn Terr/ Roseburn St junction.

3. A blog by Spokes member @hankchief  based on comments from the petition in support of the East-West route.

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