Covid-19 measures for Easter Road, Gt Junction St: LCCC’s response

Dear Councillor Macinnes

We acknowledge receipt of the email below and the attached map indicating that there are proposed Covid-19 Emergency Road Measures for Easter Road and Great Junction Street. However, we await a further Council email explaining exactly what is proposed, as all we have received is a map with a few red lines, no legend and no site-specific details. We don’t really understand how we are supposed to respond this, as it adds nothing to what was in the outline proposals approved on 14 May. Has no further detailed planning been done in the intervening five weeks?

We are being told that there is no time for normal expectations associated with consultations and are asked if we want to raise any issues.

The main issue we have is with the absence of a credible process: I am sure everyone on the extensive (GDPR-compliant?) mailing list below is a very busy person and may not be able to respond within the given timescale to potentially very complex proposals (let alone understand them in the absence of concrete details) with all their knock-on effects into neighbouring streets and on a wide variety of legitimate (and sometimes vulnerable) users. Where do the proposals go, if the physical distancing guidance is reduced to 1m in early July, as flagged up by the First Minister last week? Will a rushed implementation of measures which – if well-planned and consulted upon may well have merit – not undermine wider public support for a more pedestrian-friendly environment in the longer term?

With this qualification, we make the following observations.

Easter Road

The generic email that was sent to us makes no mention of two important changes that have been progressed earlier by the Council: first, that it has become the bus diversion route for several northbound bus routes during the 18 months northbound closure of Leith Walk, and second, that if the proposed North Bridge bus gate is introduced, much ordinary car traffic will divert via Abbeyhill and some is bound to continue north down Easter Road. While the bus diversion have been separately advertised, we fear that much of the local community has no notion of this potential further traffic increase that could arise from the North Bridge bus gate.

Given the complexity of several overlapping (competing?) measures, we call on the Council to bring forward detailed plans for Easter Road incorporating all the relevant changes and  give residents and traders sufficient time to consider them and respond. We would like to be assured that any reduction in parking on Easter Road is for the benefit of pedestrians, and not just to facilitate the bus diversions and the North Bridge bus gate. We are very concerned about the knock on effects of these proposals for residents, especially as regards parking. If all Easter Rd parking is removed when these outline proposals take effect, there is going to be increased parking pressure on all side roads east and west of Easter Rd and in the Abbeyhill Colonies. As there will be numerous vulnerable people who may need to use their cars to shop or have someone bringing their shopping by car and increased parking pressure will reduce the chance of getting a parking spot near to their house. Carers often visit clients using their cars and this is bound to make their job more difficult.

Parking pressure will also be exacerbated by the resumption of the tram works which will inevitably push parking into the streets on either side of Leith Walk. Parking is already at a premium because of workers being furloughed or working from home which means that there is an increase in permanently parked cars. With bus diversions now in place and an increase in traffic volumes Easter Road, air quality is going to be adversely affected.

Great Junction Street

We will not comment on Great Junction Street, as it is not in our area; however, we observe that one of the most difficult streets for cyclists in Leith is a little bit along in Bernard Street (junction with Constitution Street). Cyclists, as all traffic, rely on a network and a cycle route is only as good as the weakest link in a network. As more car traffic is diverted through pinch points like this junction (already more difficult to navigate because of tram works) in the wake of measures implemented elsewhere in the network, it would be good practice to mitigate the increased risks for cyclists here, too.

Other concerns

We are somewhat astonished that other streets in our area with comparable pressures have not been included in the outline proposals. Two examples below:

Newhaven Road/Bonnington Terrace

Traffic has increased at the junction Newhaven Road/Bonnington Terrace with Ferry Road. We expect this is caused of the road works at the Great Junction Street Bridge and the recent temporary closure of Warriston Road (Newhaven Rd/Bonnington Terrace being the signed diversion route).

As this is a very busy route for walkers moving between Victoria Park and the Water of Leith paths and is likely to get busier as the Water of Leith cycle way closes from Monday 22 June for works on the Newhaven Road bridge. Specifically, the pavement on the western Bonnington Terrace side is only 1.4m wide, as opposed to a still narrow 1.9m on the eastern Newhaven Road side. Locals have become adept at stepping between the parked cars to maintaining  distancing, but this is impossible at the corner Bonnington Terrace/Ferry Road as there are no parked cars and double yellow lines, and consequently dangerous, especially for vulnerable pavement users.

Leith Walk

As indicated previously, we also believe there is great need to reduce several pinch points along Leith Walk where pedestrians and cyclists will compete for pavement space during the restarted tram works. This space is the key element in Edinburgh’s most important town centre, serving the most densely populated area in Scotland. Confusingly, this does not seem to have been recognised by the Active Travel Team (who have also nixed the proposed ‘quiet’ route Mcdonald/Dryden/Cambridge/Balfour) and we are seeking urgent clarification,

We would welcome an early indication, if and when measures in the two areas above (and others in LCCC’s area) are likely to be proposed.

Many of the problems we have discussed above are best experienced ‘in real life’; we would therefore like to invite you to come over from the South Side to Leith Walk and meet some of us and take an appropriately distanced walk, so you can appreciate the difficulties our community is already facing with the tram works and other road works.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Harald Tobermann
Vice Chair
Leith Central Community Council
www.leithcentralcc.co.uk


LCCC has redacted various details of the mailing list. A ‘named’ address is firstname.lastname@organisation.

From: spacesforpeople <spacesforpeople@edinburgh.gov.uk>
Sent: 19 June 2020 18:07
To:

Attachments: Easter Rd and Gt JunctionSt 2 Easter Rd Great Junction St 1

Dear Councillors and Stakeholders,
 
Covid-19 Emergency Road  Measures
Proposed– Local Town Centres – Easter Road and Great Junction Street Town Centres

In Edinburgh, shopping and leisure uses are mainly provided in a network of centres distributed across the city. Out with the City Centre, town centres serve as a focal point for local communities providing a diverse mix of shopping facilities and other commercial and community services.

On 18 June the Scottish Government confirmed that, from 29 June, shops with outdoor entrances can reopen. To support this positive change, we are proposing an initial phase of measures targeted to quickly address some of the most pressing issues that people and businesses have told us about. These relate to the narrowness of pavements and street clutter which cause difficulties in achieving safe physical distancing.

In this first phase of proposals we aim to create additional space on routes within Easter Road and Great Junction Street town centres by widening footways, removing guardrails and street clutter. To widen footways we need to suspend all parking places (apart from loading bays and Disabled persons’ parking places). The streets being considered for these proposals are illustrated in the attached map.

The second phase of proposals, which we will share in the coming weeks, will focus on more strategic and complex measures relating to traffic reduction  and aiding cycling and public transport provision. Proposals will also align, where possible, with further announcements around the opening of food and drink establishments. We will continue to work with business representatives and individual businesses on how measures can best support town centres as part of the city’s economic recovery. It is essential that the needs of residents and businesses are taken into account as we progress measures benefitting the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the city and region.

The proposed measures  are part of an overall emergency requirement to re-designate key parts of the road network to facilitate safe travel while meeting physical distancing requirements. Such measures are required urgently to help prevent people from becoming ill or coming to harm by infection from COVID-19 whilst implementing physical distancing requirements.

These measures will be implemented under emergency delegated decision-making powers using a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order.

Given the urgent nature of these works, normal expectations about community consultations cannot be fulfilled. We urge you to get in touch within five working days or earlier should you want to raise any issues. If you do not have any concerns it would be beneficial if you could also email to let us know.  This means we will have responses from all stakeholders and this helps to inform the process.

Please note that the deadline for submitting comments is 5.00pm on Friday 26 June 2020.

If the proposal is agreed for implementation, formal publicity will then be undertaken so that local people are aware of the changes. A dedicated inbox will help us to manage any feedback around proposals – spacesforpeople@edinburgh.gov.uk

All comments will be reviewed and summarised in the assessment feedback note to the Council Incident Management Team.  Please note that we will not be able to respond to individual emails.

Regards

Spaces for People Team

Lorna Henderson | Road Safety Officer  I Road Safety and Active Travel I Road Networks I Place Development I The City of Edinburgh Council I G4, Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh EH8 8BG I (0131 469 3786/2 3786| Lorna.Henderson@edinburgh.gov.uk

 

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