CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Infrastructure

Leith Walk: revised plans

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  1. SRD

    BenN I 've not had a look yet at the plans, so not speaking to them at all. If there are concerns, I think it may result frm worry that if a segregated track goes in, but is done badly, then either people won't use it or someone will get hurt. In either case this will be used as justification for not trying on- road segregation elsewhere.

    This is such a huge step, it's important that it is done well, but as a recent cycle path in tower hamlets showed ,it is easy to do it very badly indeed. (I think the appalling bit of infra has its own thread?)

    Posted 11 years ago #
  2. sallyhinch

    Hmm. I cross-posted this onto the Cycling Embassy forum - first reaction: "There's some crazy bi-directional track and dual-networking going on there. They need to sort this out or it won't get used/be safe and it'll be a big waste of money"

    It would be a huge shame to get them to this point and end up with something that's still pretty rubbish, and worse, unused...

    Posted 11 years ago #
  3. chdot

    "I think the appalling bit of infra has its own thread?"

    Yes -

    Posted 11 years ago #
  4. chdot

    "It would be a huge shame to get them to this point and end up with something that's still pretty rubbish, and worse, unused..."

    Not getting the impression it's going to be so bad it'll be unused.

    There is still the tension between 'not as good as it could be' and 'not the way the Dutch would do it' and maybe 'well it's better than it was going to be a year ago'.

    I'm still saying 'should be done in an experimental, alterable, way' - which is clearly against CEC culture!

    The good news is that it's still not finalised.

    I have always been agnostic about the 'proper segregation everywhere' argument.

    UK/Scotland/Edinburgh isn't ready yet - well it probably is, but no politicians have the bottle.

    I think Boris is probably ahead of most -

    But he has the fortunate legacy of Ken Livingstone (a non-cyclist) and (perhaps) a more active/militant/numerous mass of cyclists in London - plus he rides a bike more than just as a photo-op (as do many Edinburgh councillors).

    More important in many ways is how well pedestrians are going to do out of this. We DO need better cycling 'facilities' (ie 'normal' roads where cycling is simple/safe for all). But above all we need a different public attitude to cars and their legitimate use.

    THAT is political...

    Posted 11 years ago #
  5. Calum

    Let's not forget that, two years ago, Boris Johnson was perfectly prepared to increase the danger to cyclists and pedestrians in London. That:

    >A safe design for Bow Roundabout on Cycle Superhighway 2 was produced but not implemented by TfL
    >TfL's preferred design for Bow Roundabout was directly responsible for the deaths of two cyclists
    >Boris Johnson subsequently attempted to deflect attention away from TfL's culpability for those deaths

    is well-documented. It is campaigning that made him change his tune: street protests, petitions, The Times, the London Cycling Campaign. This should surely embolden us to loudly *reject* the rubbish that is foisted on us here?

    Posted 11 years ago #
  6. chdot

    "It is campaigning that made him change his tune: street protests, petitions, The Times, the London Cycling Campaign."

    Undoubtedly true - partly or wholly.

    35 1/2 years of Spokes has made a big difference.

    I think CCE (or at least many of the people who post here) has made a difference.

    PoP has made a difference (again with the help of some of people on here).

    More of the same?

    More of something else?

    Something else??

    New thread?

    Posted 11 years ago #
  7. crowriver

    Well I think that this is a big improvement on the previous plans, and a massive improvement from the current set up. That's not just for cyclists, but also pedestrians. Many crossings which are currently two-stage are now single-stage: it could go further but it is an improvement. The segregated lane looks pretty useful, and if this plan is realised I will certainly be using it, and will encourage my partner and friends to do so. There are some details which might be finessed and enhanced, but I think it is overall a good scheme.

    I would urge those with criticisms and suggestions for improvement to provide the council with positive and constructive feedback. The planners need to be encouraged now that they are heading towards a more acceptable solution, not berated for some aspects which are not quite ideal. I think it would also be magnanimous to give praise where it is due: for listening to prior feedback, and for coming up with some solutions which seem quite workable, eg. the segregated lane, the single-phase crossings (across London Road, Foot of the Walk, etc.).

    There is a moment to be seized in order to make this happen. This is the offer, (give or take some tweaks as it's still a draft design) let's take the opportunity to show some support and engage constructively.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  8. allytibbitt

    No plan will ever seem perfect to everyone - and I just wanted to pitch in to echo what @crowriver said.

    Folk internally in Greener Leith are having approximately the same debate as on this board - i.e. yes it can be better but what's on offer now is a massive step forwards. So what's the appropriate response?

    I wanted also to point out a couple of things that aren't immediately obvious from the pdf's. In the latest draft Leith Walk has been narrowed fairly substantially in the new design with about 5 George Street style zebra crossings added.

    This will have the effect of slowing traffic right down and improving things massively for pedestrians. In effect it will mean a de facto 20mph zone.

    It will also design out many of the dangerous double parking problems that beset the street.

    It's also worth noting that the dangerous left feeder lanes on the northbound travel have been removed. This will make it easier and safer to cycle down as less crossing of traffic lanes will be required.

    Early on the consultation process it became clear to me that achieving full length segregated cycle lanes would be a difficult case to make because it would require taking space away from pedestrians as well as motorised vehicles.

    Whilst I'd still like to see mandatory lanes instead of advisory lanes (ideally inside the parking), an explicit 20mph limit, and at least a painted "buffer zone" to minimise the risks of dooring, on the northern bit of the street, the proposed lanes do already avoid many of the pitfalls seen with the QBC.

    The design is a compromise, between business uses, pedestrians, cyclists and motorised transport - but the balance is one that seems to me to be a far better fit with the kinds of things that the wider majority of people said they wanted.

    The segregated lane will kick in where the gradient steepens and where the number of buses starts to increase too.

    The devil is in the detail. How will people cross from the two-way bike lane where it ends at Annandale Street? But I reckon these details can be ironed out, and they should perhaps be seen in terms of an emerging vision, albeit messy one, for the city centre.

    Long-term there may be scope to connect the two-way bit proposed on Leith Walk to that which has been mooted on George Street. Confident cyclists may not use it - but something like that - in my view - would certainly lower the perceived risk of cycling into the city centre for many who currently wouldn't dream of it at present.

    At this stage, what's more important is persuading the Scottish Government to release the cash to get rid of the roundabout and everything else. They're less likely to do it, if there's a vocal group - however small - of folk criticising these new designs wholesale and rejecting them out of hand.

    So yeah, a quick plea to be constructive in your criticism. It finally feels like there's a possibility of some sort of common ground...

    Posted 11 years ago #
  9. wingpig

    "I would urge those with criticisms and suggestions for improvement to provide the council with positive and constructive feedback."

    I did, last time. This time I'll make a record of what I write in case they lose it again.

    The bits which most worry me are the bits where it looks like they think they're helping but are not.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  10. SRD

    i've still not managed to look at the plans properly. i'll have to go to one of the sessions, but one question for ally: why can't the lanes on the bottom/north end of LW be inside the parked cars? why would this use any more space?

    Posted 11 years ago #
  11. chdot

    "why would this use any more space?"

    To allow for decent amount of 'door free space'

    On-road lanes pretend to allow enough - but only if you ride on the white line. Though maybe Plans for LW lanes are wider than (for instance) Marchmont Road(?)

    It was considered there that lanes could be on the inside - but that was 'too un-Edinburgh'.

    (Well it was a long time ago - not sure they have been re-painted since...)

    The other problem with 'inside'/segregated lanes is sideroads - and making sure bikes get the necessary/safe priority.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  12. Instography

    Allytibbit said: "At this stage, what's more important is persuading the Scottish Government to release the cash to get rid of the roundabout and everything else. They're less likely to do it, if there's a vocal group - however small - of folk criticising these new designs wholesale and rejecting them out of hand."

    Leith Walk is so far off my routes that I have no personal axe to grind about it but that kind of threat - that just one dissenting voice criticising could upset the SG bogeyman and scupper things back to the stone age - would really make me cross.

    It reminds me a little of an interesting piece I read the other day about the relationship between the Equality Network and the Scottish Government.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  13. allytibbitt

    @srd: I've been asking the same thing. A lot. But never really got a convincing argument although where there are lot's of side streets maybe some of those concerns raised by @chdot make sense.

    @Instography: Jeezo. I'm not trying to threaten your freedom of speech. I'm simply saying, perhaps clumsily, that from a campaign point of view, its seems to me that there's may be a time to broadly support the council and a time to criticise. In my view this is time to support at present.. It's not as if I haven't written anything critical in the past!

    Posted 11 years ago #
  14. sallyhinch

    I agree that it is worth praising what is good (or a positive improvement at least) while still pointing out what isn't. Personally, I think on-road bike lanes in the door zone count as the latter - especially if there is space to put them on the inside of the parking (and do it properly) instead.

    Some stats from Copenhagen (via here - 338kms of cycle track built and 50kms planned compared with just 18 kms of cycle lanes - and none planned. Why do we cling so hard to the idea of on-road lanes in the UK?

    Posted 11 years ago #
  15. SRD

    "I agree that it is worth praising what is good (or a positive improvement at least) while still pointing out what isn't. "

    Perhaps here worth praising the listening to people and willingness to realize that road needed improvement, not just 'reinstatement'.

    but also, that given all this is so new to edinburgh, that we need to reflect a bit on the detail and make sure we're getting it right.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  16. Calum

    I do appreciate the concerns of those people who are trying to work with a council that is fearful of the motoring lobby, as well as a government that is basically hostile to cycling - I really do. There are worthwhile elements to this scheme and I would not have them lost on my account.

    Having said that, I stand by my original points. At some point we must ask for what is really necessary. Leith Walk has got to be the widest street in Edinburgh - if we can't achieve a piece of high-quality infrastructure here, then where can we achieve it? Edinburgh pretends to want to quintuple the rate of cycling in the city in less than 7 years - if it's not possible to achieve a piece of high-quality infrastructure now, then when will it be?

    As others have pointed out, a good standard of cycling provision could be achieved by rearranging the planned layout. The cycle lanes should be moved inside the parked cars (I'm sure a little bit of space could be found for a door zone buffer, but if not this would still be better because cyclists would be in the passenger-side door zone and not the driver-side) to create cycle tracks, and the cycle tracks should have priority over side roads.

    When Jim Orr and Keith Brown go to NL I am certain that they will be astonished by what has been achieved there. Perhaps they will come away humbled, with an appreciation of the scale of the change that is required, and of the inadequacy of their own efforts, in this country. I live in hope...

    Posted 11 years ago #
  17. Instography

    It's also worth remembering that this is likely to become something of a blueprint for future schemes like George Street. If everyone stays quiet now, it'll be harder to be critical of George Street and future plans. If it was OK for Leith Walk ...

    Posted 11 years ago #
  18. chdot

    Spokes CycleCampaign (@SpokesLothian)
    08/06/2013 16:04
    #LeithWalk @greenerleith comment

    Our joint paper helped!

    @CyclingEdin @EdinReporter @edfoc


    Posted 11 years ago #
  19. chdot

    The busy London Road roundabout _ which has been dubbed a “cyclist blender” _ will be turned into a signalled junction under the new plan which has won the support of cycling groups and local traders


    Posted 11 years ago #
  20. Calum

    Ah well. I guess if the cycling orgs are all supporting this there's little prospect of further change. And that's a shame IMO.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  21. chdot

  22. sallyhinch

    This might be handy when considering whether to support schemes or not (haven't looked at it in much detail BTW)

    Posted 11 years ago #
  23. Instography

    I think someone should head over to this blog and explain to the guy what he's misunderstanding.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  24. allytibbitt

    I did :)

    Posted 11 years ago #
  25. gdm

    I emailed my MSP (Kenny MacAskill) given the proposals for LW appear to be dependent on additional funding from central government. I also noted that the revised plans, while much better, were still far from ideal and asked him to encourage the council to be bolder. He must have missed that part of my email as it didn't get a response.

    Anyhoo, not that I was really expecting "yeah, we've loads of money by the way and we'll give CEC a big cash injection to fund the overhaul", but the expected response came in, and to generously paraphrase it was "we've no money thanks to Westminster, it's up to councils how they spend their budgets".

    The concern has to be the extent to which the council are really serious about the need for additional funding to deliver the improved plans and that, if no extra money is forthcoming, does that just mean their position will be "well, we've no choice but to revert to the original proposals". Of course, the plans hinge on lots of significant infrastructure as opposed to options which could realistically be installed far more cheaply and just as effectively (or even more so, of course, if the design was to Danish standard!).

    So, it's back to Ms Hinds & Mr Orr. Shall we just bombard them with examples of best case practice and examples internationally on how things can still be done better and cheaper? If only one of them was in just that kind of place where this best practice was wide-spread! Maybe he could think about how it might be possible to, at the very least, design safer segregated environments using lower cost alternatives which can be improved upon in future years when the good times return. Clearly, we need to make clear that they cannot simply take the lack of additional monies as being justification to settle once more for the lowest quality option (as with the QBC) rather than aiming for something that would show real vision.

    Too much to hope?

    Posted 11 years ago #
  26. kaputnik

    Central Holyrood Government (i.e. the SNP) seem to have no problem in finding the billions required for their motorway, bypass, dual-carriageway and bridge-building programmes. To borrow a beer slogan;

    The Nationalists don't give a XXXX*

    * = insert 4-letter word of your choice here.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  27. crowriver

    @gdm, that response does not surprise me in the slightest. Neither would I be at all surprised to see CEC turn around and say 'there's no money, back to plan A". I really hope that doesn't happen, but it might.

    I can see some possiblities:

    1. Sustrans comes up with the cash somehow.
    2. Cabinet Secretary Brown or Swinney come up with some 'consequentials' or 'proceeds of crime' cash down the back of the sofa somewhere.
    3. CEC decides to blow the cycling capital budget on Leith Walk.
    4. CEC tries 'temporary' segregation as per the plans (as proposed in George Street), using a TRO and cheap plastic bollardy things (see Princes Street tram line segragation recently)
    5. If none of the above happen, it's 'QBC Leith Walk' time.

    Posted 11 years ago #
  28. gdm

    To be honest, I'm not that sure a 'temporary' style infrastructure such as plastic bollards would be the worst outcome.

    The key deliverable has to be something which is functionally effective - if it does the trick of segregating cyclists whilst also ensuring that it is safe and clear at junctions and bus lanes etc, then it could arguably be made of whatever material the council can afford (paper mache aside).

    Just had another response from Mr MacAsKill's office about the need for greater leadership, direction and targets to ensure that councils deliver compared to the current fudge over the concordat:

    "I’ll get some more information from my colleague the Transport Minister as I appreciate your frustrations. There are tensions between local and national government on directed spending etc. We as an administration have sought to work through outcome agreements. We decide what we agree needs done and they require to meet it. Spending being entirely allocated was never followed up and no sanctions applied. That said they do need to deliver and meet their agreed commitments. I’ll seek info on that and see if that can also be included in the letter detailing matters from Keith Brown."

    Given the buck-passing seems to have reached Olympian levels, maybe the focus from our side is about ensuring the dialogue is about developing for quality and being functionally effective. Yes, plastic bollards can easily be removed by the Council but if they build something which is genuinely effective then, as I think we've said elsewhere, they will come!

    Posted 11 years ago #
  29. I would appreciate someone telling me what has misunderstood.

    He makes some perfectly valid and relevant points.

    One point which is completely irrelevant is whether or not this draft of LW's plan is better than any previous one. The only relevant point is - is it a GOOD plan?

    A bad plan with a few excellant bits in it is still a bad plan.

    IMHO, this is a bad plan. Its a massive opportunity missed. Why? incompetance? Money? lack of desire? I don't know, but the bottom line is it is not good enough and THAT is the message campaign groups should endorse

    Posted 11 years ago #
  30. PS

    Apologies, I haven't looked at the new plans yet. Is there going to be another open day at the McDonald Road library to see them?

    Posted 11 years ago #

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