Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fountainbridge Brewery: A Vital Link for Active Travel

This is a both a comment on Planning Application 14/05337/PAN and a wider comment on links between south Edinburgh and Haymarket. The developers consultation closes tomorrow, but there will be a council run consultation later.

I used to live next to Sciennes Primary and commute to Haymarket every morning. With a few changes, particularly in relation to planning application 14/05337/PAN, this could be an extremely direct, pleasant route for commuters to Haymarket from Sciennes, Marchmont, Bruntsfield and Fountainbridge. It's well used at the moment by cyclists and pedestrians, despite a total lack of signage and the defects that I'm going to outline below, and I really think this should become one of the nicest and well used routes for active travel in Edinburgh. Significantly, doing this route by car is difficult, and we have a chance to make something where cycling and walking are faster than going by car. Haymarket is booming, and if Edinburgh wants to achieve its ambitious active travel targets then improving and promoting this route is an absolute must. The bit of the route that I want to focus on is marked in blue on the map below.

The route starts at the top of Leamington Terrace, which is connected to Bruntsfield Links by a toucan crossing. Leamington Terrace is far from perfect, and I don't know what it's like at rush hour, but it does at least have lots of speedbumps and is set to become a 20mph road. We then pass on to Leamington road, which is the small link to the canal at the bottom of Leamington Terrace, before crossing the canal and continuing down Gilmore park. At the bottom, keep going pretty much straight on unnamed roads until you come on to Morrison Crescent, and then nip through the Dalry colonies to find yourself very close to Haymarket. Since the route has never been accessible by car, it's become quite nice by bike or on foot, and could become really superb. But there are lots of issues that need sorting out, for me the main ones are as follows:

1. Crossing from Leamington Terrace to Leamington road is difficult. It will hopefully get easier as the speed limit on Gilmore place comes down, but I see lots of school children walking this way, we could do with a pedestrian crossing.

2. Leamington Road is one way, so on my way home I have to walk it. It's only a ten metre section, could we make it two way for bikes, or even better stick a bollard at the junction of Gilmore Place and Leamington Road so that the only access for cars is from the other side. This part of the route is used by masses of pedestrians and cyclists, it's a shame to close it to cyclists in one direction. Without a bollard this road may become a huge problem road with parents dropping off kids once the school opens on the other side of the canal.

3. Gilmore Park is okay at the moment since there's no reason for cars to use it, but it needs protecting as the brewery site is redeveloped.

We now move on to points relevant to the current planning application. If our council is serious about active travel it must insist the developers address these problems in their plans.

4. Crossing Dundee Street when coming from Gilmore Park is a nightmare if you're on your bike. Something significant needs to be done here, my suggestion would be for the junction of Dundee Street/Gilmore Park to be raised and the toucan crossing moved to this junction.

5. The unnamed route between Dundee Street and W Approach Road is far too narrow. It's shared space that attracts very many people, and there's just not enough room at the moment. Bikes have no option but to use the shared space since if they went on the road (on the right of the picture) they'd be going the wrong way down a one-way street. The new development (14/05337/PAN) will contribute significant extra footfall to this shared space, and so needs to contribute land to widen the path. This should be in the form of a wide (MMW style) segregated space with the bikes on the south.

6. Approaching the Western Approach Road, the current slope forces bikes into conflict with pedestrians at every turn. It's also not passable by two bikes going in opposite directions. The new segregated bike path should be continued to the south of the steps with a direct slope down to the level of the Western Approach Road.

7.The lights at the Western Approach Road are an absolute disaster. If they have recently gone green for pedestrians then it will take about forty seconds after pushing the button for them to go green again. The car traffic on the Western Approach Road is only heading towards other traffic jams anyway, this certainly isn't a pinch point for motor traffic and the waiting times for pedestrians should be reduced.

8. Finally a word of warning as to what happens when we don't force developers to cater for active travel. The developers who built the care home at the top of the Dalry colonies were allowed to pretty much sever this link for bikes by making the path narrow with a sharp corner. There are no cycling signs there now. The bike route goes around three sides of the care home, significantly longer and much less convenient.

I should add that this is my perspective as a youngish, relatively fit cyclist, I don't know whether Spokes are going to comment on the proposals, but they may well have lots of points that I've not thought of. These were just my thoughts as a daily user of the path.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog post on a topic that has much annoyed me. Here's a consultation for the development of the site this goes through and it would be great if the planning gains from the development of this site were to fix the problems you hilight