MacDonald Road 20mph consultation response

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Many Leith residents will no doubt have heard about the sad death of a 32 year old cyclist near Broughton Primary School on the 28th of April. The Broughton Spurtle has already, highlighted calls by local residents for further safety measures at the junction where the accident happened.

This latest accident is not the first in the area. And it happened just hours before the deadline for local people to respond to the MacDonald Road 20mph consultation. It therefore seemed appropriate to us that our consultation response took account of the recent accident, and we hope that the council will consider carefully whether action can be taken soon to make the junction near the school safer. This is what our short response said:

Please accept this brief response to the MacDonald Road 20mph zone consultation on behalf of Greener Leith.

We write this in the context of a serious road accident today that led to the death of a cyclist outside Broughton Primary School, an incident that relatives and the local people who witnessed the incident must still be coming to terms with. Details of the circumstances of the accident remain unclear, and we understand that diversions are in place in the area and that the junction is not operating under “normal” circumstances. But in light of other incidents in this area, this latest accident can only serve to underline the importance of improving the way traffic is managed for all road users in this area.

Greener Leith is supportive of most of the City Development proposals for MacDonald Road itself. However, we note that some local residents have queried whether the local Fire Brigade would support full width speed bumps on the road. We assume that the Fire Brigade have been pro-actively approached for their views on the proposed changes. If they haven’t we urge the council to do so.

Furthermore, we note strong local support for well maintained, visible cycle facilities. Therefore, we welcome proposals to repaint cycle markings. In our view, it would be advantageous if the cycle lane markings were repainted throughout the length of MacDonald Road, as they have faded in many places, or been interrupted by utilities works.

This leads us to the road layout at the West end of MacDonald Road and the junction with Broughton Road. Whilst this area may be outwith the scope of the current consultation, in our view, this junction should be rethought entirely, as it currently gives too much priority to vehicles, and does little to reduce vehicle speeds to reasonable levels. Given the proximity of the school, the poor visibility of the junction and the safety record of this area there must be justification for further measures, and investment, to reduce speeds in this area.

In our view, any remodelling of the junction should also improve the access for cyclists and pedestrians to and from the cycle path which runs towards the Water of Leith. As a cyclist travelling west on MacDonald Road it can be particularly difficult to get onto the path. It is not clear what lane one should be in, and as the junction is not traffic light controlled, it can be difficult to turn right accross one lane of traffic, and over the road. This is because traffic can move quickly on Broughton Road, and it is impossible to see far southwards down Broughton Street due to the hill there. Rather than run the gauntlet of that junction on the road, many cyclists opt to cross over MacDonald Road onto the North side of the road, and hop up onto the pavement in order to use the pedestrian crossing. This can be dangerous too, particularly if the crossing is attempted close to the junction, as although traffic is lighter on MacDonald Road, there is still a risk of a vehicle turning into the street unexpectedly.

Therefore, we propose that there must be a stong case to make this junction a traffic light controlled crossroads, with pedestrians and cyclists able to cross more safely from the west of Broughton Street, to the area in front of Broughton Primary School, ,on the South side of MacDonald Road and vice versa. In our view, this would mitigate against many of the safety concerns at the junction.

Secondly, the junction with West Claremont Street should be redesigned to force motorists turning into the street from Broughton Road to slow down.

Lastly, we would like to put on record our support of the principle of 20mph zones in the city and would strongly support the extension of 20mph zones to other streets in the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership area.

I hope these comments are helpful, and I look forwards to hearing a response in due course.