Will the car always win?

My first foray into campaigning was getting a narrow country road near my work resurfaced and have cycle lanes added and innovatively no centre line.  This has made a huge improvement to the many colleagues who regularly use that route and we’re now seeing much greater number choosing to cycle to work.

BUT, the victory looks to be short lived as the Council are scheduled to give planning permission in principle to build 1,300 houses with the only access point being onto ‘our’ road.

The Bicycle User Group at work submitted a strongly argued case that this access arrangement was unsuitable in it’s current form.  Full Details

They also made a deputation at the planning Sub-Committee last week where it approved the plans but decided against putting any conditions on the developer to sort out the transport issues associated with the site despite the Council Officers noting “The transport mitigation measures proposed by the developer fall significantly short of the measures identified in the Council’s East of Millburn Tower Transport Appraisal of January 2015“.

So here’s the BUG’s final plea to all Councillors to add planning conditions in the approval

I write on behalf of the Gogarburn Bicycle Users’ Group, which represents nearly 600 people who ride their bikes to RBS Gogarburn. We are concerned about the impact of the proposed development at Milburn Tower on the safety of cyclists on Gogar Station Road, and ask that during your deliberations on this development on 2 June, you impose planning conditions to maintain a safe commuting route for cyclists.

What’s so special about Gogar Station Road?
It’s a narrow country lane linking the A8 at RBS Gogarburn and the A71 at Hermiston Park & Ride. It’s vital for active travel and cycle commuters because it has a connection to the Union Canal tow-path and a link (via underpass) to Edinburgh Park. This makes it a popular route for people commuting by bicycle. During resurfacing in 2015, an innovative solution of removing the centre line and creating on-road cycle lanes vastly improved conditions for cyclists on this route.

However, Gogar Station Road is still very narrow. In some places it is barely 5m wide. There is one single-lane bridge over the Gogar Burn that has no pavements at all, and a single-lane railway bridge that has pavements that are too narrow for a buggy or wheelchair. Even at current levels of traffic, it is not a pleasant place for pedestrians and cyclists.

What are the Bicycle Users’ Group concerned about?
We are worried about two aspects of this development:

  1. Construction Traffic. Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) present a particular danger for cyclists: over 20% of cyclist fatalities in 2014 involved an HGV. About one quarter of accidents resulting in serious injury to a cyclist in 2014 involved an HGV passing too close to the rider. A tipper truck is over 3m wide: some parts of Gogar Station Road are too narrow for two such trucks to pass, and if a truck tried to overtake a cyclist on a narrow part of the road there would only be 50cm space between the cyclist and the truck. We are, frankly, terrified about the prospect of sharing this narrow country road with construction traffic, but there are no alternative routes for cyclists from the canal (National Cycle Route 75) to RBS Gogarburn. The attached picture shows a truck on Gogar Station Road.
  2. ATT00001Residential Traffic. When the development is occupied, traffic volumes will increase considerably. At peak times there will be a vehicle passing every four seconds. This will make Gogar Station Road unpleasant for cyclists, and will reduce its current effectiveness as a key north-south cycle route. As traffic volumes increase, the opportunities to overtake slow-moving cyclists decrease, increasing the risk that frustrated drivers make poor overtaking decisions on a narrow road with poor sight lines and blind bends. That will put vulnerable cyclists at risk.

What do the Bicycle Users’ Group want done?
We would urge you to impose two planning conditions on this development, to mitigate the risk to cyclists and maintain the levels of active travel that the current infrastructure on Gogar Station Road has done so much to promote.

  • Planning condition 1: minimise construction traffic using Gogar Station Road. To protect cyclists and pedestrians using Gogar Station Road (and particularly its narrow bridges towards the south), all construction traffic must enter and leave the development at its north end (near RBS), and must take the shortest route to the A8. No construction traffic should be allowed to travel along Gogar Station Road to or from the A71.
  • Planning condition 2: creation of a direct ‘commuter’ cycle route through the development. The developer must consult with Sustrans and Spokes to design a direct, segregated, cycle route through the development for commuter cyclists. The route will go from the canal (National Cycle Route 75), past the underpass to Edinburgh Park and then on to RBS Gogarburn where it will link to the existing traffic-free cycle paths to the Airport. This will provide an attractive alternative to Gogar Station Road.

We would be very grateful for your support in imposing these conditions on the development.

RBS Gogarburn Bicycle Users’ Group

(Gogarburn Bicycle Users’ Group is independent of RBS)

 

 

And it’s not just us arguing that the Council are giving the developers too easy a ride on transport issues.

Here’s Spokes & Living Streets adding their concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

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Will the car always win?

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