All parties on Edinburgh City Council have agreed the direct, main-road, cycleroute at Roseburn, rather than the Option B back-street alternative.
After the hiatus at the August Transport Committee, where a vote on party lines would almost certainly have gone against Option A, with only Labour and Greens in support, this is a fantastic outcome. The fact that there is now all-party agreement to build Option A – with a full review after 12 months – means that we are less likely to see the decision being a big issue in the May Council elections, with the threat of a decision even being reversed.
The proposal by Transport Convener Cllr Lesley Hinds at the August Committee to postpone a decision, for further stakeholder consultation, was a stroke of political genius – despite considerable social media “it’s a cop-out” criticism at the time.
As a result: not only do we have all-party agreement, but the plans have been significantly enhanced, particularly for walkers and for local traders, as a result of the extensive further consultation. The choice of Option A also means that Sustrans 50/50 funding for the entire East-West route is now highly likely, whereas there was little chance under Option B.
Furthermore, the Stakeholder Group representing all interested groups will continue to meet occasionally during detailed design, implementation and operation, so that refinements can be built in and problems tackled at an early stage. There will also be a thorough review of the project one year after it has been built.
Undoubtedly there are compromises on all sides. In particular, the cycleroute in the Roseburn Terrace section is only 2m width, the minimum standard – but adequate for a relatively short and slow-speed section. But, politically, for now it was 2m or no route at all. In future years, if the route proves successful and more commuters turn to public and active transport, a further traffic lane could be converted to give more cycling and walking space.
Thanks are due to many people…
- Council officers who went almost beyond the call of duty in calmly and professionally speaking at sometimes heated stakeholder and public meetings, and revising the options umpteen times to get the best possible compromise outcomes.
- Councillor transport representatives from all 5 parties on the council, who engaged with the concrete arguments in detail after the August decision. Councillors Hinds, McVey, Cook, Bagshaw and Aldridge.
- Sustrans who held a difficult position as potential 50/50 funders of the project. With many councils bidding for the limited Sustrans government cash, Sustrans had to maintain a careful balance between wanting to support a city centre route in Scotland’s capital but needing it to be ‘exemplary’ to do so. Deputy Director Daisy Narayanan did a great job.
The active supporters…
- The locally-based Roseburn Cycle Route community support group was crucial, using a calm and collected evidence-based approach, and participating in Murrayfield Community Council so that both sides of the case got a hearing. All would agree that Henry Whaley in particular was a superb messenger.
- Spokes has put great effort into supporting and commenting on the east-west project since its outset. Our main representative throughout, Richard Grant, has been tireless in detailed documentation and working in stakeholder groups. As always, we also emphasise the value of individual members and others contacting their councillors and responding to consultations rather than thinking ‘Spokes’ can do everything. We also assisted the Council in seeking Sustrans funding.
- The online City Cycling Forum – a great and eclectic mixture of optimists, pessimists, cynics, activists and back-seat commentators, helped greatly in spreading news, interest and things that can be done. In particular, the forum was instrumental in the August #OptionA support ride.
- We also compliment many of those individuals and businesses who argued for alternative routes. Whilst undoubtedly there was mis-representation in some quarters, many useful ideas were contributed during the consultation, resulting in significant improvements in Option A for local traders and for the local shopping and walking environment. Useful discussions also took place at Murrayfield Community Council, albeit some were rather too heated for comfort!
Selected press and other reports
- Council news release 16.12.16
- The Herald online 16.12.16
- Evening News 16.12.16
- Road.cc 17.12.16
- Roseburn community support group 17.12.16
- Evening News 15.12.16 Pre-decision article
- Evening News letter 15.12.16 from Cllr Lesley Hinds countering misleading claims
What you can do
- If you contacted your councillors about the decision send them a quick thank-you email. They’ll appreciate it!!
- Some of the Roseburn Terrace traders will be feeling downhearted and worried about the future. Why not cycle along there and give them a bit of business? There’s a great variety of local shops. For example – go for a coffee at Colpamia, get your favourite picture framed at @Art_et_Facts, buy a special-occasion cake at @3dcakesuk, get yourself beautified at @SmoothiesBeauty then round it off with a drink at @Roseburn Bar!
- Council election manifestos are now less worrysome as regards the east-west route, but we need lots more than that in manifestos. For example – without a continuing decent cycle budget, how long will it take for the east-west route to be built? Please contact your councillors … see here.
- Join the Roseburn Cycleroute community support group – especially if you live nearby or work in or visit the area. Join by email – details here.
- The next stage of the route will be further detailed design, then Traffic Orders, then construction. We will of course advise members when it’s useful to comment – for example when the Traffic Orders are published.