Campaigners from Living Streets Edinburgh have criticised the Trams to Newhaven project over what they describe as “hopeless” pavement designs with their width said not to meet the required standard. They claim that there are 11 different sections of pavement totalling over 250m which do not meet the Council’s own policy – although for their part the Council have said these are only recommendations and aren’t possible in all areas.
The campaign group – a local branch of the nationwide Living Streets, a walking charity – have said that in one place the pavement is just 1.8m wide yet Council guidelines state the minimum width should be 2.5m. However, the guidelines do also state that there can be differences in areas with trees or in local conservation areas – of which Leith is one.
David Hunter, from Living Streets Edinburgh, said: “We’re incredibly disappointed to learn of the hopeless final design for many sections of Leith Walk’s pavements. These pavements should be at least 3 metres wide, with a stipulated minimum of 2.5 metres. We are big supporters of the tram project, and welcome the benefits it will bring to people walking in other places. But having engaged with the tram team regularly over the past two years, it’s a bombshell to hear – right at the point of construction – just how poor the street will be for pedestrians. Even at this, the eleventh hour, we’re calling on the council to revisit the plans to give pedestrians the space they need.”
In response, Transport committee vice convenor at City of Edinburgh Council, Karen Doran, said: “Supporting safe and accessible walking and wheeling remains a priority for us and, as David Hunter states, the Trams to Newhaven project will help even more people to choose travel by foot or wheel. Our designs, which have been completed in close consultation with the community and stakeholders, including Living Streets, accommodate a living, breathing and historic high street, where buses and trams co-exist with pedestrians, cyclists, buses and those servicing businesses and living there. The Edinburgh Street Design Guidance, which helps to make sure our streets are well designed and accessible, recommends a minimum footpath width of 2m, though makes exceptions to accommodate various elements of the streetscape, and finite space in existing streets. We’ve endeavoured to adhere to this guidance, while ensuring quality public transport and cycling links along the length of the route.”