As you have likely heard, the Edinburgh Council Transport and Environment Committee have voted to keep moving forward with the CCWEL. Some of the objections raised need to go before a public hearing. The traffic orders have been approved excepting those parts and work will continue. That's one more hurdle cleared in the long and complicated official process for building our West-East link.
As our readers know, this site promotes evidence-based analysis, so we listened in detail to what the various Councillors were saying and compared that to the facts from our research.
SNP, Labour and Green unconditional support
We are very grateful to the SNP, Labour and Green Councillors for the their continued dedication to make Edinburgh a leading active-travel City with benefits to pollution, health, congestion, the environment and more.
Liberal Democrat and Conservative support with concerns
Some Councillors from these parties assured the meeting that they support the CCWEL in principal, and we are grateful for the outpouring of LibDem support on Twitter. On the other hand the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Councillors voted for an amendment (which was voted down by the other parties) to delay the entire project until completion of the public hearing.
With a strong sense of deja vu, we listened while two Councillors in particular raised many concerns that have been answered before by the Council Officers and here on this site. Councillor Gloyer proposed to use the time for the public hearing for further consultation. However there has been an unprecedented investment of time and money spent on engaging with the public and altering the design wherever possible. Nevertheless, people keep raising the same objections even though they have already been answered — as Councillor Gloyer neatly demonstrates.
The arguments have been carefully considered with hours spent researching the facts and finding the best balance for everyone. Our group strongly supports the SNP, Labour and Green Councillors to press forward as it's not productive to keep circling round the same arguments over and over again.
Councillor Gloyer (Liberal Democrat)
Each bullet is Councillor question then our answer.
- Some cyclists would have preferred option B. Direct, segregated routes are absolutely key to make active travel more attractive to those who currently do not use it. This is endorsed by major cycling organisations, government recommendations, many surveys, comments on cycling forums and observation of other routes that are already in operation. There were a variety of significant problems with option B.
- Older people concerned about safety of toucan crossing; Toucan to be used by school children on their way to school. CCWEL has many measures to improve pedestrian safety, notably including the extra crossing at Tesco's, closure of the rat run and fully-segregated paths in contrast to shared paths on the existing NR1. Toucan crossings exist at a number of places in the city, and the system of cyclists giving way to pedestrians works reasonably well. School children also benefit greatly from being able to cycle to school.
- Passing trade will buy their rolls and newspapers elsewhere. Studies invariably show that trade is not harmed by introduction of cycle routes, especially with the substantial benefits of Rejuvenating Roseburn. Parking within 2 minutes walk of the shop has increased, allowing shoppers to park legally in short stay spaces, rather than having to use loading bays illegally.
- Bus users concerned that their journeys will be delayed, despite confident predictions of officers. There are minimal queues Westbound on West Coates, even at peak times a while back when one lane was closed for roadworks. The bottleneck is at the Roseburn Terrace / Roseburn Street junction where parked vehicles and right-turning traffic block buses. The new junction design will reduce this bottle-neck.
Councillor Douglas (Conservative)
- Why was there no monitoring on surrounding residential streets (Henderland Road and Murrayfield Avenue)? There has been a huge investment in modelling. It's not clear why those two streets would be negatively affected.
- Huge local opposition — local residents and businesses totally against this plan, with a 6000 signature petition. The formal consultation showed Edinburgh residents significantly in favour. The petition against was based a document containing many misconceptions and factual errors and furthermore there have been many design improvements since.
- Parents will not let their children cycle along the route. See above. Safer routes to schools is one of the key elements of modern active travel and there is ample evidence that parents and children will use a safe route.
A webcast of the meeting is available should you wish to listen. The discussion of the CCWEL starts at 1:01.