The Council’s new Local Transport Strategy is a major document setting out a detailed policy framework for transport decisions over the next 5 years. In general its content is very welcome and will be extremely valuable to quote when commenting on individual future transport and planning proposals…
The Strategy, now in final draft after two public consultations, is expected to be approved in full by Councillors on 14 January. See the full Committee Report [CR] and Local Transport Strategy [LTS] here…
The LTS and CR continue and strengthen the Council’s long-standing stated intentions to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport. Certainly we would like this to happen faster. However, against national trends of rising car use, the Census shows that Edinburgh has achieved long-term growth in the shares of commuting by public transport, cycling and walking. And Edinburgh is unique amongst Scottish Councils in achieving a rising proportion of car-free households and a falling proportion of people who drive to work. [CR 2.7, LTS 2.4].
The LTS [2.3] continues the Council’s bold targets for increased cycle use [and reduced car use]. Unlike the Scottish Government, which has equally bold targets, the Council is allocating a significant proportion of its transport budget and significant staffing to achieving its targets and, again unlike the Government, the council is reaping the rewards in terms of rising cycle use.
“Climate change is now happening” says the LTS [2.5], and local action to combat this global threat is now a stronger driver underpinning LTS policies, as required by Scotland’s Climate Change Act.
2. WIDESPREAD 20MPH
From our perspective the most important single change from the previous LTS is the excellent new policy [LTS 6.5] on 20mph limits – if it is implemented boldly. Not only will residential and shopping areas be covered, as nowadays is increasingly commonplace, but so too will be main roads with significant pedestrian and/or cyclist usage. This will also be a priority policy for early action with a May 2014 report on a proposed 20mph network consultation [CR 2.10] and implementation completed city-wide by April 2017 [LTS 6.5.4].
Another welcome priority action [CR2.10, LTS 12.3.3] is to consult with a view to introducing Sunday car parking controls, boosting Sunday bus services, and reducing Sunday car commuting – all of which will make the roads less daunting for walkers and cyclists.
3. CYCLING-SPECIFIC POLICIES
Many LTS policies should benefit bike use, particularly those leading to reduced car speeds and use. It is excellent to see this specifically mentioned throughout the document – for example, in the on-street car parking section [LTS 12.3] the policy Park13 is a presumption to protect bus and cycle lanes by appropriate parking and loading restrictions.
However, there is also an extensive section [9.2] on cycling-specific policies. See the LTS for the full wording, but its policy statements are listed below in full as an appendix to this article. When writing to the council about specific traffic plans or problems, remember to quote these LTS policies where relevant.
4. SPOKES SUBMISSION
Spokes made substantial submissions to both consultation phases leading up to the final LTS. Here is the Spokes submission to the final consultation [pdf 223k] and the Council response to the consultation [pdf 415k].
Spokes is pleased that our submission to the final consultation influenced the outcome in some important respects…
- Segregated cycling facilities have been added [Section 9.2, policies PCycle2 and PCycle8]. We were a little surprised how few individuals or groups wrote in about their omission, given the widespread online and public comment about the issue, but the wording has anyway now been significantly improved from the earlier draft.
- Agreement that places such as Leith Walk where traffic management schemes are already planned will be considered for early 20mph implementation subject to local approval [this agreement is in the above LTS Consultation report, not in the full LTS]. Whilst there has been local scepticism whether the council would ever agree to 20mph in Leith Walk, Spokes has always believed that if the new city-wide 20mph policy was adopted then Leith Walk has to be included as it clearly satisfies all relevant criteria – a residential and shopping area with high levels of pedestrian and cycle traffic. We trust it will now be included in the May 2014 consultation on a 20mph network [see section 2 above].
- Tram cycle-carriage. Whilst not in our above submission (because it was already agreed) it is great to see enshrined in the LTS the results of our detailed lobbying some years ago now for Edinburgh to be Britain’s first city to trial bike carriage on scheduled tram services, with a view to a permanent scheme, as seen in many other city trams worldwide.
Spokes is however very disapponted that some other parts of our submission to the final consultation did not change the LTS, including…
- Indicator – Feeling Safe when Cycling. The LTS has indicators [LTS 2.3 and Appendix 1] by which progress will be measured. We feel strongly that the above indicator should be added – it is used in several European cities – but this was not agreed, leaving only cycling levels and casualties to be measured.
- Built environment. The LTS Environment chapter [LTS 5] covers only pollution in its various forms, whereas we felt it essential that the Built Environment also featured. Over the years there have been many examples [see our submission] of severe conflict between planning and transport policies and outcomes, and the LTS does not properly tackle this silo mentality. We had suggested a new policy such as, Policies and practices between planning and transport will be coordinated at high level and at operational level, to ensure a holistic, balanced approach from the outset in all relevant decision-making.
All the LTS documents and submissions mentioned above, together with the earlier consultation details, can be found on our Local Submissions page.
APPENDIX – CYCLING POLICIES FROM SECTION 9.2 OF THE LTS
Note: we repeat [as in 3 above] that many other policies dotted through the LTS mention or are relevant to cycling.
[Chapter 9] Cycling Objective : To ensure that cycling is an attractive, safe, secure option for all short and medium distance journeys.
PCycle1 : All new traffic management and/or road schemes will be designed in accordance with the Council’s emerging Street Design Guidance (prior to its adoption, with the Cycle Friendly Design Guide).
PCycle2 : There will be a presumption in favour of new traffic management schemes always incorporating measures for cyclists, particularly:
- exemptions from road closures;
- advanced stop lines (ASLs) with approach cycle lanes at traffic signal controlled junctions, or cycle lanes where ASLs are not required;
- all new pedestrian crossings to be considered as potential toucans;
- cycle lanes, or where appropriate physically segregated cycle infrastructure, in all schemes involving main roads (except where this may not be necessary if the speed limit is 20mph).
PCycle3 : There will be a presumption that all streets will be two way. However, if new one-way streets have to be implemented to manage motor traffic, there will be a presumption that cyclists will be exempted from the one-way restriction.
PCycle4 : There will be a presumption against constructing any new roundabouts with more than one entry, exit or circulating lane within the built-up area.
PCycle5 : When traffic management or other schemes involve significant works to roundabout junctions, there will be a presumption in favour of replacing the roundabouts (other than ‘mini’ roundabouts) with traffic signals.
PCycle6 : The Council supports the carriage of bicycles on rail services, with sufficient numbers per train to allow family groups to travel together. Subject to successful piloting, the Council will support carriage of cycles at appropriate times on the Edinburgh Tram. It also supports bike carriage on medium to long distance bus/coach services and supports the carrying of folding bicycles on all modes of public transport.
PCycle7 : Cycle/pedestrian routes will be retained on former railway routes used by the Tram. Safe provision for cyclists will be made on streets used by Tram; and secure cycle parking facilities will be provided near Tram stops.
PCycle8 : The Council’s approach to situations where a shared footway is an option will be as follows:
a) shared footways will only be considered where they are necessary to provide cyclists with a reasonably safe route separated from busy traffic and they form a component in a longer cycle route;
Taking into account cost implications, impacts on other road users, and potential benefits:
b) where space is available provision of a cycle track physically divided (segregated) from both motor traffic and pedestrians will be considered (a segregated cycleway);
c) If a segregated cycleway cannot be provided then the usual preference will be for cyclists to be separated from pedestrians on a shared footway by a white line, difference in materials, or similar. However, this will not always be the preferred solution, for example, when pedestrian use is low and width is limited it may be better not to segregate; and
d) all new and existing shared footways will be equipped with ‘courtesy’ signs encouraging considerate user behaviour.
PCycle9 : In the event of a private investor bringing forward proposals in line with the Council’s central objectives, the Council would support a pedal / electric bike share scheme in the city.
ECycle 1 : There will be a presumption that electric cycle will be afforded identical treatment to pedal cycles.