November 2009
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A8 underpass – pushbikes only!

A new underpass of the A8, at a critical location, will only allow bikes to be pushed – unless you object now!!

Network Rail has submitted a planning application to build the Gogar rail/tram interchange – a project which Spokes fully supports.  The interchange will be on the north side of the A8, just on the Edinburgh side of gogar roundabout.

Unfortunately Network Rail is not taking cycling seriously.   They are doing the easy bits, like connecting the new station to the north side of the A8 and providing bike parking.  However, a new underpass of the A8, linking the Gyle to the new station will be designed for walkers only, although you will be allowed to push a bike.

Even if you are short of time, it is quick and easy to make a very short objection, and this really helps!

Objections must reach Edinburgh City Council by this Friday 13 November.   To make a short submission, use the ‘submit comments’ button at the above link to the planning application.   We suggest that you categorise your comment as an ‘objection’ – or you have the alternative of making a ‘general observation.’    Make sure to quote the number of the planning application, 09/02589.

Please also copy your objection to your local councillors and ask them to support you at the Planning Committee.  Find them at www.writetothem.com.

If you are after 13 November it’s too late for a formal objection, but still very worthwhile asking your councillors to support you on this at the Planning Committee.

The planning application itself admits that the current position for cyclists wishing to access the area of the site is appalling.   It says [Transport Assessment, 3.7]  “routes for crossing the A8 necessitate large diversions, via the RBS overbridge approximately 800m to the west of the roundabout, or via signal controlled pedestrian crossings at the Turnhouse Road/A902 Maybury Road/A8 Glasgow Road junction approximately 600m to the east.

The planning application’s reason for not allowing cycle use [Transport Assessment, 6.4] is so outdated in its understanding that it could be almost amusing if this wasn’t so serious,  “The subway will be gated at its southern end to form an entrance to the interchange, which will be more attractive to users.  As a result, pedestrian users of the subway may not expect cyclists on their cycles to be using the subway. Signage will be installed to instruct cyclists to dismount within the subway, and so maximise the quality of the subway experience for the majority of users.

Network Rail should be following the Council’s Standards for Sustainable Buildings which state that development proposals should “offer genuine and practical alternatives to car use by prioritising €˜desire€™ lines for pedestrians and cyclists.”   We can hardly call this a genuine and practical prioritising of cyclist desire lines!!

There are some other important points to be made – please considering including these in your objection …

a. The proposal is an underpass which is basically station-access only, and so will be closed off when the station is not open.  The underpass should instead be part of Edinburgh’s path network, and open 24/7.

b. The path from the underpass should continue through the station site so as to link on to other expected future developments in the area, allowing continuous cycle access between them and the Gyle.  At present only a 2m wide footpath is proposed beyond the station to a future ‘International Business Gateway’ development.

Note – If you decide to look at the plans online, click ‘associated documents’  at the link to the planning application.   You’ll find masses of documents.  Relevant ones include the TRANSPORT ASSESSMENT (it is in 2 files) and ‘PROPOSED SITE PLAN SHOWING INGRESS ROUTES.’

Misleading information – Network Rail in several places refers to the underpass as “pedestrian/cycle access” – but only by carefully reading the transport assessment do you discover that it is actually pedestrian access only, although you are permitted to push things such as bikes.  Similarly, a Spokes member who commented at an earlier stage was told by Network Rail, “For foot and cycle passengers on the south side of the A8 further access to the east side of the station is provided via a subway below the A8.  This subway will also enable rail passengers to access the Gyle Shopping Centre.”  Very, very cheeky – implying, though not actually stating, that proper cycle access will be provided.  They must not be allowed to get away with this!!

Finally, the project is being funded by the Scottish government via Transport Scotland.   When we comment on the government’s low spending on cycling we are constantly told that as well as the well-known money to councils the government also spends on cycling via Transport Scotland’s big projects – if so, let’s see them take cycling seriously here!   Indeed, there’s a good argument for also writing to your MSPs, asking them why Transport Scotland is being allowed to fund schemes which don’t take cycling seriously.

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