Pilrig Street is to gain a£15,000 traffic island, but other proposed pedestrian crossings near schools in Leith have been rejected by council officials.
Above you can see the flow chart that shows how council officials decide whether a street should get a pedestrian crossing or not, after somebody requests one.
It’s taken from the appendix of this report, which councillors considered this week.
The document reveals that officials only received 32 requests for new crossings in the whole of Edinburgh, in a whole year.
Despite this, only 11 of these requests were assessed, possibly because of the complex assessment process they must go through to determine whether a street is worthy of a pedestrian crossing.
Essentially, after a request is accepted by officials, they then go out to count how many vehicles and how many people use the street during peak times to get a “PV2” number. So far so straight forwards.
But then the fun starts. A whole load of different factors and weightings are applied, which try to take account of things like how wide the road is and how many vulnerable pedestrians they observed – before a “final” score can be arrived at.
It’s not clear from the report how often these “adjusted PV” values are adjusted or how actual factors are applied, but it looks sciency.
And at the end of this, herculean effort to apply rationality to a tricky and potentially political problem, a “priority list” is made up for councillors to consider.
The upshot this year is that Leith looks set to gain one traffic island, on Pilrig Street at a cost of £15,000. Proposals for potential crossings at Duncan Place on Duke Street, another one at East Hermitage Place into the Links and one on MacDonald Road have all failed to meet the “priority criteria.”
We’ve already noted that the area around Leith Primary School and Leith Academy has a relatively poor road safety record.
Yet the reason officials give in the small print for not taking forwards proposals for a crossing at East Hermitage Place – even though it has an “adjusted PV2 score” that suggests action is needed, is that it “unable to construct a crossing point at this location due to width of road and existing bus stop locations.” Which a cynic might translate as: “It would be too expensive and difficult for us to do anything here, so we’re not going to bother.”
The other proposed crossings were assessed with relatively low scores, but its not clear whether there was any call to try to reconsider those”local factors” if the council is serious about boosting the numbers of people walking – particularly school pupils.
On the other hand, perhaps Leithers should be grateful. The Leith Improvement Programme has already seen new crossing and improvements for pedestrians on Constitution Street and more is to come on Leith Walk. The Shore is a better place for the wider pavements that have been installed there. This was all paid for by different budgets.
What’s maybe most interesting about this report is the low number of “crossing requests” that officials apparently received in the first place.
If this is the primary mechanism that drives assessment of crossing locations then it’s destined to favour areas with people who know how to work the system.
It could be argued that perhaps the flowchart, and its somewhat opaque “local factors” should be ditched, and the accompanying budget and decision making powers devolved to Neighbourhood Partnerships.
The city Neighbourhood Partnerships already spend a proportion of the roads budget anyway.
This might mean that Leith “only” gets £20,000 per year extra (That’s its 1/12 share of the £245,000 allocated for crossings this year), but that would seem to be 25% more than the area is likely to get from this budget anyway.
That power shift may not happen any time soon. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for places in the Leith area where you find it hard to cross the road as a pedestrian, which you think could be improved, then please get in touch to let us know. If we receive anything we’ll send them in a batch together and do our best to make sure they’re included in next years’ requests.