Submitted by Editor on Tue, 01/05/2018 - 10:48


The cycle campaign group Spokes has now published its detailed response to the Council’s consultation on extending the tramway to Newhaven.

The full response supersedes preliminary reactions issued earlier, and is available as a pdf at the foot of this page.

Spokes starts from the premise of welcoming the longer route, and expresses a willingness to participate constructively in making it work well.

But the 25-page document issued yesterday also raises fundamental problems with the scheme as currently envisaged. 

Like Leith Central Community Council (see Breaking news, 30.4.18), Spokes criticises the proposals for putting trams first and making everything and everyone else fit in around them. The plans, it says, reverse recent improvements made to the north end of Leith Walk. 

Instead, the Council ‘should be designing not a tram corridor but a transport corridor, of course with the tram as a major feature, and which also is integrally designed with a series of people-friendly places for local activity including local shopping.’

Spokes lists 6 principal concerns with possible solutions

  • Rather than increasing traffic lanes from 2 to 4 and so squeezing cyclists and pedestrians, planners should consider restricting access for motorists (at least during peak times) along Leith Walk and adjacent side streets.
  • The proposal for a kerbed (and uncrossable) strip down the centre of Leith Walk (from Pilrig Street northwards) should be removed or made more permeable for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The Picardy Place tram stop design should be changed to parallel platforms, thus boosting passenger convenience and easing congestion, among other reasons. The proposed tram stop at the Foot of the Walk should be repositioned to aid safe cycle routes and improve the pedestrian environment.
  • There should be a segregated cycle route between Pilrig Street and the Foot of the Walk. There should be improved cycle provision between Constitution Street and Ocean Drive. 
  • There is a need to improve connectivity between the tram route and the North Edinburgh Path Network, particularly at Lindsay Road.
  • Safe and separate cycling facilities should be available during the construction period.

Spokes makes specific points about the need for high-quality cycling infrastructure, and raises detailed design issues at various points along the route.

Spokes makes 4  recommendations

Spokes’s recommendations would, it says, help the project achieve the Council’s own aims to reduce car use, traffic pollution, and congestion; and improve public health, active travel, and Edinburgh as a liveable city:

  • Appoint a nominated cycle/active travel champion and technical expert to the project team.
  • Revisit the overall design brief to promote change to active travel with top-quality standards.
  • Widen the scope of the project to include improved, high-quality facilities for cyclists and pedestrians along the route.
  • Establish working groups (CEC officials, local residents, active-travel organisations) ‘to progress the various elements of the project design’. 

Pool of talent

As with Leith Central Community Council’s response, which we reported yesterday, Spurtle is impressed by Spokes’s contribution.

Spokes forensically addresses problems of detail and offers solutions in a way which conforms to a consistent logic.

That logic arises from a clear and thought-through vision of place making, high-quality infrastructure, and a modal shift away from car use towards active travel.

It does all this in a tone of voice which is not strident or aggressive, but calmly determined and collaborative.

The Council and Edinburgh more generally are fortunate to have such an expert, engaged and well-intentioned resource at their disposal. They would do well to listen to it.

Got a view? Tell us at spurtle@hotmail.co.uk and @theSpurtle and Facebook