LIVING STREETS ON TRAMS TO NEWHAVEN

 MORE SERIOUS DOUBTS ABOUT INITIAL DESIGN 

Pedestrian campaigners Living Streets Edinburgh Group has issued its response to the Council’s consultation on Trams to Newhaven. LSEG was commenting on first-draft proposals for the design in the event of the Council voting to proceed with the extension this autumn. 

In general, LSEG favours sending trams to Newhaven (and even beyond), and welcomes the potential for improved pedestrian/wheelchair access along the route and from nearby areas. It particularly likes the principle of ‘continuous footways’ over side roads. 

Concerns

However, like Leith Central Community Council and Spokes, LSEG has numerous misgivings. In brief, these are:

  • an inadequate consultation process
  • no evidence that data on pedestrian movement was gathered to inform the design
  • mistakes made during the first tramway design (e.g. tram/cycle conflicts) are being repeated
  • long distances (600m) between stops and no sign of improved pedestrian access to the route from further afield
  • ‘significant deterioration in Leith Walk crossing opportunities’ with potential negative impacts on social inclusion (for the elderly and disabled) and public safety
  • pedestrian-deterrent central reservation unacceptable given too few formal crossings
  • failure to understand importance of place, exemplified by narrowing of recently widened footways on Leith Walk
  • footways shared by pedestrians and cyclists would cause conflict
  • need to prioritise pedestrian phases at signalled junctions.

The wider context

In broader terms, LSEG is concerned by:

  • inattention to improving bus services or assessing effect of extension on current bus service
  • no clarity about how extended trams will meet Council transport aims, and illogical progression of the scheme before the Transport Strategy review
  • no alternative options for the route, e.g. continuing it to Granton
  • more focus required on reducing general traffic along Leith Walk.

Forebodings

This – the third well-intentioned, carefully compiled response we have reported in the last few days – should make sobering reading for City of Edinburgh Council. 

Once again, it seems that lessons from past design errors have not been learned. 

The overall vision is unduly skewed towards trams at the expense of all other street users. 

The opportunity to set an extended tram system within broader upgrades to the streetscape and public transport has not been addressed let alone grasped. 

In short, there is much work to be done on improving the current tramway extension design, and – thanks to the Council’s arbitrary (some say politically motivated) deadline for the project – too little time to do it well. 

This Spurtle writer is in favour of sending the trams to Newhaven. But the omens for the project’s success are not good.—AM

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Leith Walk
55° 57' 48.2436" N, 3° 10' 41.754" W