Edinburgh Council launched the consultation on the West Edinburgh Link cycle project today. I spent the day hearing all about the plans and quizzing the project team on what they have in mind. You can see the plans for yourself https://westedinburghlink.info/
My first response is that this has the potential to make a huge change to the way people travel around West Edinburgh and is very much needed
The Gyle is a horribly car dominated environment, with every work day seeing thousands of people driving to work. And with 100 people a week moving to Edinburgh it is only going to get worse unless something is done to convert people to more sustainable travel methods.
These diagrams come from the 2011 census (Datashine) and show the locations people drive to for work. Over 1,000 commuting journeys are from these neighbouring communities. It is little wonder we some of the most polluted roads in Scotland in the area.
So this is where West Edinburgh Link can come in, a 3 mile commute from the neighbouring communities would take around 15minutes and not only bring health benefits to the commuter, but also save the local community from more air & noise pollution.
So what’s the catch…
We need to take away the parking on South Gyle Crescent & Bankhead Avenue. Is that too much to ask? Less people driving will need less space to park their cars so this shouldn’t be a problem. We shall see…
And I should point out that travel demand is much more than just commuting. As Caroline’s Criando Perez’s excellent book ‘Invisible Women’ highlights, many journeys (typically but not exclusively made by women) are not a simple A to B commute, but are much more complicated because of ‘trip-chaining’, linking interconnecting trips such as school drop off, grocery shopping, visiting doctors etc. This makes it important that we have a less car dominated environment in general to encourage more sustainable travel choices.
Back to the project. Lets have a look at the details (all available via https://westedinburghlink.info/project-details/)
A segregated route along South Gyle Crescent, up Bankhead Avenue (with an at grade crossing of Calder Road) and continuing onto Wester Hailes Road is the cornerstone to making the area less car dominated and more pleasant for people. A huge improvement on what is there now.
It is not without some areas where further improvements are required (in priority order)
- Bankhead Drive / South Gyle Access junction.
Space under the railway/tram bridges is in hot demand. 2 general traffic lanes + 1 bus lane exiting the Gyle, 2 general traffic lanes entering the Gyle, together with pavements either side and a traffic island, which need to include space for people waiting to cross the road (via the 2 stage crossing), doesn’t leave a lot to for moving people on bikes.
The design for the junction isn’t finalised but in essence, it will be broadly the same with the additional cycle traffic sharing the narrow west pavement with moving pedestrians and waiting pedestrians and cyclists.
There can be a bit of tweaking, but ultimately it will be a recipe for conflict to add in increased North-South cycle traffic to the already busy pedestrian area using shared use pavements.
I believe they need to take a very hard look at the need for 5 traffic lanes. Yes, if you assume traffic levels to be as they are now, you’ll need road space similar to what you have now, but why not be bold and assume a reduced demand for the following reasons:
- The West Edinburgh Link project will create model shift
- The Parabola development in Edinburgh is planning on removing the tag controlled barriers on the entrance/exit onto Hermiston Junction, which will relieve pressure on the other 2 exits
- Workplace Parking Levy (if implemented) will reduce demand.
2. Wester Hailes Cinema Slip Road.
This will fail any test of making the route suitable for 8-80 cycling and I for one will not let my kids use it as currently set out.
Whilst it is a slip road that leads to a sharp corner, the danger is that drivers don’t have to slow before crossing the cycle route and can take it without significantly changing their course.
The crossing really needs to be moved further South and include a raised table to slow down the motor traffic.
3. Gyle Centre Car park & access to the A8 Underpass to Edinburgh Gateway.
There a massive missing link to connect up to the A8 underpass, which will become the lynchpin to active travel in West Edinburgh. The significant housing developments in West Craigs, Cammo & Crosswinds, will bring thousands of extra journeys looking to cross the A8 and yet the best connection we have ends glamorously at the side of shopping centre car park.
We must be able to better than this.
The West Craigs development is desperately trying to get a bridge over the railway line behind Edinburgh Gateway station, but is being held to ransom by Network Rail demanding extortionate ‘Air rights’ to build a bridge to serve it’s station.
Once built, this would create a ‘green corridor’ from the Underpass to Bughtlin Rounabout. The Cammo Fields development is then proposing continuing this offroad route to Barnton. We simply have to connect up the A8 Underpass with the West Edinburgh Link project.
4. Width on Bankhead Avenue
Great to see the segregated route continues up Bankhead Ave heading south. What’s not so good is that it has been limited to 2.5m wide. That just seems too narrow to be comfortable given that it is on an incline which will make considerable speed differentials between cyclists. It also sets a terrible precedence that the 3m standard is flexible over long stretches.
5. Connecting the West Edinburgh Link to the North.
It is important to get to the residential areas of East Craigs & Drumbrae connected to the Gyle, but it is also important that the connections spread further afield.
There are some huge barriers for active travel in the area, namely the A90 to the North & Corstorphine Hill to the East.
This means the connection to the crossing of the A90 Clermiston Road is vital for getting to NEPN & North Edinburgh, and whilst it does have quiet roads near the crossing , getting from the West Edinburgh Link path to Drumbrae Terrace across Drum Brae North needs some help as it is a dog leg of 200metres. It is too busy a road for inexperienced riders to do this unaided.
6. Options for Maybury Drive – Segrgated or Shared use?
It should be emphasised that this is just the start of the consultation on the outlined designs. Plenty of time to feed in thoughts & ideas but important that you do make your thoughts known.
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also important will be sharing your thoughts with others
- Corstorphine Community Council 20 March – 7pm
- Sighthill/Broomhouse/Parkhead Community Council 2 April – 6:45pm
- Wester Hailes Community Council 3 April – 6pm
- Drum Brae Community Council 8 April – 7pm
- Gyle Shopping Centre 21 March – 12pm to 7pm
- Westside Plaza 4 April – 12pm to 5:30pm
- South Gyle Crescent 25 April – 8am-5:30pm
- Gyle Shopping Centre 27 April – 10am to 4pm