As fifteen weeks of work to completely redesign the junction at the Foot of the Walk are set to get underway, opposition is growing to a proposal to alter bus lane laws that would make buses on Leith Walk slower and the street more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.
Despite being committed to spending more than £10m turning Leith Walk into an ‘exemplar’ sustainble travel corridor, the council is currently consulting on plans that would see the bus lanes on Leith Walk downgraded so that all motor vehicles can use them outside a small set of weekday peak hours.
The proposals could also see motorbikes allowed to use bus lanes at all times of day.
Currently, bus lane restrictions apply apply all day on Leith Walk Monday to Saturday, with motorbikes banned from using them too.
Somewhat ironically, in the not-so-distant-past officials and local councillors had used these very same all-day bus lane restrictions as a justification for not providing proper segregated cycle lanes in much of the new Leith Walk designs, despite clear public support for such facilities.
— Andy B (@ontwoplanks) February 11, 2015
Indeed two years ago, as plans and budgets for the street were being developed, Leith councillor Adam McVey, who has since gone on to become Deputy Transport Convenor at the council led calls to order officials to explore “a full range of options to give cyclists increased priority” on Leith Walk.
In his view at the time the protections of “extra wide bus lanes” helped to promote cyclists perception of safety on the street.
And since then his SNP colleagues at Holyrood have provided more than £3m towards the cost of redesigning the street so that pedestrians and cyclists are given greater priority.
Although Greener Leith volunteers were not convinced at the time that extra wide bus lanes were remotely sufficient, it would seem that Cllr McVey, along with the majority of his colleagues on the Transport and Environment Committee, are now intent on removing even these protections for cyclists.
As, the proposals for the Foot of the Walk Junction show, the only protection from general traffic cyclists have on some parts of the revamped Leith Walk are the bus lanes – and even these disappear at key junctions.
And isn’t just cyclists on Leith Walk who will be affected. We also believe that scrapping the bus lanes will be detrimental to people who rely on public transport and pedestrians too.
Therefore, in our view it is vital that the bus lanes on Leith Walk are retained as all day lanes.
To this end we have teamed up with SPOKES, the Lothian Cycle Campaign, Living Streets Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland to submit a joint objection to the Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders that will allow the council to put these ill-advised proposals into effect. you can read our full submission by clicking here.
However, our case will be strengthened greatly if other people and organisations write in to object to these proposals too. The deadline for submitting your comments is Wednesday the 18th of February.
SPOKES, who coordinated the group objection have a great guide giving more background that sets out what you can do if you want to see these proposals binned.
- Object to the order(s) by Weds 18 February. Email… firstname.lastname@example.org, stating that this is an objection to ETRO/14/38B and/or ETRO/14/38A. Then give your reasons. If you are short of time, it is not essential to look up the Orders, but obviously do so if you have time. There is also a postal address – click on the above links and see the file called ‘advert.’ Note: your objection should include your own postal address.
- Contact your councillors. Tell them what you think; ask them to support you and speak to their party’s Transport Spokesperson. Find your councillors at www.writetothem.com. Interestingly, one member who has already contacted his 4 councillors found that 2 didn’t even know about this!
- Are you in a group that is concerned? For example a local community group or parents’ group. Please urge them to object too.