Two reports produced by the Streets Ahead Road Safety Partnership have identified Leith Walk as one of the most dangerous streets in the city for both pedestrians and cyclists, strengthening the case for a 20mph speed limit on the street.
The first report, which looks at trends in pedestrian accidents in Edinburgh, identifies every single post-code that Leith Walk runs through as amongst those with the most pedestrian accidents. Leith Walk runs between EH1, EH7 and the EH6 postcodes. The chart below shows that they appear as the postcodes with the 1st, 7th, and 3rd most pedestrian accidents.
As well as looking at the location of pedestrian casualties, the report also looks into the causes of pedestrian accidents and notes that in 75% of cases – it is the pedestrian who is deemed to be at fault, usually as a result of not looking out for traffic before crossing. The report goes on to make a series of recommendations that we hope the street designers putting together the final design for Leith Walk will heed.
The report concludes that: “With regard to the location of incidents, the analysis has shown a migration of incidents towards the main areas of pedestrian movement i.e. shopping areas and areas of high employment. Enforcement of traffic speed restrictions could be considered through these areas via additional traffic speed cameras or urban average speed cameras.
“Engineering measures may consider increased pedestrian priority options as well as shared space and shared surface options as part of an action plan for pedestrians. The extension of 20mph zones within residential areas would also potentially improve pedestrian safety on a city wide scale.”
Moving onto the report on cycle safety, this report shows that there was a 46% rise in the number of cycle journeys in the city between 2004 and 2010, and that despite this increase the numbers of people hurt or killed has not risen as quickly. However, the report specifically identifies Leith Walk, and indeed Easter Road, as among five city streets which were “notable corridors” where cycle accidents happened.
As this chart below shows, EH1, EH6 and EH7 crop up again amongst the postcodes with the most accidents.
The report into pedal cycle accidents also looks in detail at the contributory factors to accidents, and whilst 75% of pedestrians were said to be at fault when they were hurt, many may be surprised, given the vitriol occasionally lobbed at “law-breaking” cyclists, that it is almost the opposite in the case of cyclists. The analysis shows that in 72% of accidents where a pedal cyclist is injured or killed, it is the driver who was at fault.
The cycling report concludes: “A high proportion (38%) of pedal cycle casualties were injured on an A-class road and 74% of pedal cycle casualties were injured at or within 20m of a junction. The locations of incidents which have resulted in serious injury to pedal cyclist’s show a general migration of incidents towards the main A-class roads and distributors.”
It then goes on to recommend that the council should consider cycle lanes, segregated paths, 20mph zones, and cycle pre-signals (which give cyclists a chance to move before motorised traffic) to improve safety.
The City of Edinburgh Council has adopted ambitious road safety targets. By 2020, cycle incidents are supposed to be cut by 50% of the average of 2006-08 and overall injuries cut by 30% in the same time.
It is just a few weeks until the council publishes it’s revised design proposals for Leith Walk. Given what council officials already know about the safety issues on Leith Walk, it will be interesting to see what they come back with.