New Survey Launched on Why Bike in the City?
Clearly, with a 9% uplift in the cycling budget, the Council wants to encourage cycling. But how best to achieve this? Cycling officers say that the reason folk don’t bike is because cyclists need their own dedicated space in order to feel safe. That may be true, but will a £9M protected cycle track actually lead to more people choosing to cycle?
Reports are coming in from around the UK saying that protected cycle tracks are not leading to predicted increases in cycling. A recent Scotsman report said Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee have built numerous cycle routes – both on and off road – over the past 20 years, but the numbers using them on a daily basis remain stubbornly low. So traders lose parking and there is reduced road space for other vehicles- for what?
Councillors have been convinced by project consultants on the East-West cycle track who predict an increase of approximately 90% in cycle use in the corridor served by the route, amounting to a 16% increase in overall cycle use in the city if it was delivered. They base the need for a protected track on the Sustrans survey Bike Life Edinburgh of 1,100 Edinburgh residents, which amounts to 0.2% of the city’s population. .
To find out if these estimates are realistic, the Roseburn Vision group is asking citizens why they don’t cycle into town and what would get them onto two wheels. We want as many people as possible- especially those who will travel or live in the vicinity of the track, to respond. You can see the route from Roseburn to the top of Leith walk here. We also want to find out if you think congestion is a problem and how it might be tackled. This survey is aimed at all those, young and old, who don’t cycle to work or study or shop at present. It can be found at tinyurl.com/whybike
Public meeting on the cycle track- Tues 2nd August
-in conjunction with the West End Community Council, the Murrayfield Community Council and the Wester Coates Amenity Society. See the Evening News article on the meeting of 20th July 2016
There were 175 people and 9 Cllrs at the meeting. There were only seats for 120, so we had 55 standing. (80 from Roseburn, 40 from Wester Coates, 30 from Hmkt, 20 from Spokes, 5 of the cllrs from further afield.) The chairperson was John Yellowlees, Murrayfield Community Council Chair and attending we had Vice-convener of Transport, Cllr Adam McVey (SNP), Local ward Cllrs Jeremy Balfour (Con) and Deputy Leader Frank Ross (SNP), City Centre Cllrs Joanna Mowat (Con) and Alasdair Rankin (SNP) and other Transport Cllrs Gavin Barrie (SNP) and Bill Henderson (SNP), Nigel Bagshaw (Green). Also Cllr Jim Orr (Independent).
Story to date
As previously stated, our Roseburn Vision alternative was discussed by the SNP group (who comprise part of the Administration) who stated that they wanted to see our scheme presented as an alternative when Transport Committee made their decision on the track on the 30th August. They were not. The Council Cycling Officer and Cllr Hinds have other plans, though, and have dismissed our alternative scheme. Our proposals have no protected cycle track, but rather a number of other measures to facilitate safer cycling. The Evening News revealed on 21st June that, as a result of our campaign, there were now two proposals for Roseburn, but nothing new for most of the A8. Our response to the Council’s current proposals can be downloaded and we urge you to study this if you have not already done so: http://www.kidsnotsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Campaigners-Response.pdf This document shows both what the Council wants through Roseburn to Haymarket and the detail of what we propose as an alternative.
To move things along, this public meeting was held. A very passionate and interesting evening with both sides for and against having a say.
At the 30 August meeting, we took the 6,000 signatures who oppose the petition to to the Council. The Council agreed to have the scheme reviewed by a “Stakeholder” group. The group has now held several meeting (the Roseburn Vision group are excluded; whilst the traders have a rep, it is dominated by those what want the track). It is becoming clear than the cycling officers are pushing to get the Council to support option A, along Roseburn Terrace and a decision by a small group of Cllrs, cimprising a Transport spokesperson from each party, will make the decision before Xmas.
Petition Against the track
The Council plans are opposed by 5,826 people who have signed the petition against the track but this is of little import, it seems, to the Cycling Officer. The Council’s revised plan Briefing Note merely states that there are two petitions – one for and one against the scheme.
Lies, damned lies- and statistics
Council claims of support for their protected cycle track scheme running from Roseburn to Haymarket claimed 74% supported the scheme but an FOI request shows that 80% of those surveyed did not live near or anywhere to the west of the track- so were unlikely to use it. We submitted an FOI to get more information – which showed data was being misrepresented.
Page 8 of the Report claims widespread support for the track in these areas:
The map suggests support from local areas. The FOI showed that simply was not the case. The Council response to the FOI request is here.
The results show there were 2,247 respondents to the survey– and 1,762 of these neither lived in the area nor in any postcode to the west of the track.
It would be more reasonable to examine the preferences of two far more relevant groups:
- Those who lived in, or almost in, the area affected
- Those who lived due west of the track and who may therefore be likely to use it to get into town, this being the justification for building the track- ie to encourage those in the west to leave their cars at home.
Those who lived in, or almost in, the area affected
The data from those with postcodes EH12 5** are those living in the pink area outlined here, which includes those living a mile further to the west of the track:
– who submitted 230 responses out of 2247 total. It showed much greater opposition:
Those who lived due west of the track
The FOI sought the preferences of those who could have a legitimate interest in the development, given that they lived in a postcode where they might use the track. Obviously those that travel in along the A8 to get to the city centre are entitled to be consulted.
The total who responded from the area in pink on this map came to 485 out of the 2247 total. It painted a more positive view of the Council plans, but still in general, opposition:
It shows that considering the views of those likely to be affected or use the development indicates more against it than in favour.
The skewed results are only arrived at if the views of the 1,762 respondents who are unlikely to be affected are included in the data.
It seems unreasonable to include the views of those from the rest of the city. Why should they be consulted? It does not affect their lives, – they are unlikely to be using the track often, if at all- so why should their view be given equal weight to those who are affected? Indeed, 237 either did not provide a postcode or gave a postcode outside the EH range, so over 10% of respondents cannot be shown to even live with Lothian. So why is their view considered important by the Council?
It could be claimed that the Roseburn Vision would be a better scheme to implement. The campaigner’s survey of their own scheme to improve cycling safety (with 225 respondents) never fell below an approval rating of 68% for any one item- and was around 80% for most – that low score was for the removal of on-street parking on West Coates- and the campaigners have now changed that part of the proposal as a result, with some parking now included at Kew Terrace for the homes with no front drives.
It is frustrating that Councillors and the public are being given the impression that there is local support for the track, when the opposite is the case. The FOI demonstrates that the support the Council propounds is coming from those who are not affected and who are unlikely to use the track.
The Freedom of Information Request can be read here.
Sold down the river?
The Evening News revealed on 21st June that there were now two proposals for Roseburn, one of which removes 100m of track from the shops. The changes are a “partial victory”- if the version that saves the Roseburn shops is adopted. But the amended scheme is riddled with flaws both for Roseburn, and still spells disaster for West Coates and for Haymarket, as we learnt as several of us Roseburn residents and traders sat with the Council cycling officer in the Murrayfield bar when his report was released, where he showed us his plans.
For instance, in Roseburn the cycling officer’s plan for three Roseburn Place road closures still isolate the Chiropracter and Murrayfield View retirement homes. The new proposal to run the cycle track round the end of Roseburn Street outside Tescos (an already very narrow junction) reduces the road width by 25% and so makes this junction unusable for long HGVs coming from Russel Road- and this is an official HGV route. It ignores the problems we flagged up in March of Abellio Scotrail getting their trains round the junction and the officer admits he never thought of consulting them. I suspect he has not consulted the bin lorry drivers either, as they flow round this junction too. Joined-up thinking is a talent that continues to be in short supply at Council HQ.
The cycling officer was unfazed that by moving the taxi rank from the Haymarket station it ceases to be an integrated transport hub: he remarked the needs of cyclists outweigh those who must get to a taxi, whether they be elderly, or with kids, or with loads of baggage. Most shops at Haymarket will lose their loading and thus their income.
The terrifying “Bus-stop Islands” remain, an accident waiting to happen to elderly commuters as they dodge cyclists to get on and off a bus (there is a high proportion of elderly folk in this area). Still on the subject of buses, the officer is content with losing the westbound bus lane.
I pointed out that the congestion of 50 buses and 600 cars carrying upwards of 5,000 people at rush hour being backed up all along West Coates on one lane from Roseburn all the way back to Haymarket would hugely impact on commuting travel times, yet all the officer saw was the odd few minutes delay. Truly, I think he lives in a world of make-believe when it comes to traffic modelling.
I would have to say that the revised scheme B’s only redeeming characteristic is that it leaves the Roseburn shops out of the equation – but it is a dog’s dinner of a compromise that really needs a lot more work.
In the revised plans the cycling officer says the “Results of the consultation show a high overall level of support, with 67% of over 2,500 respondents supporting the proposals.”? Yet he neglects to mention the petition against raised 4,000 signatures objecting to the scheme- that is in a population of 6,200 adults. His appraisal is a flagrant misrepresentation of reality.
I was hoping the officer might have considered our suggestions- the ones we gave to the Transport & Environment Committee on the 7th June. That day, the Vice- convener, Cllr McVey, assured us that our scheme, “The Roseburn Vision” would be considered as an alternative and would come to the next Committee meeting alongside the cycling officers plans. Yet the Council cycling officer admitted he had not looked at our 25 recommendations and had no plans to include them in his report to Committee.
Regarding “The Roseburn Vision” there is in his plans just a dismissive 5- line appraisal of all our hard work – this from a man who admits he has not even studied the detail of what we propose. We expect that our scheme be evaluated and costed properly.
We are appealing to Cllr McVey to intervene. This is not what we have fought so long and hard for.
The Council’s revised plan Briefing Note can be downloaded by clicking here – it is a big file- it will take a few minutes.
The Council’s Consultation Report can be downloaded here. It is a heavily skewed analysis
Our campaigners response (which compares our Vision plans with the Councils scheme) can be downloaded here.
The Roseburn Vision
A local solution for city-wide needs
Designed by local people for local people: for cyclists, for walkers, for drivers, for traders, for residents
The 3,500 people of West Edinburgh who oppose the Council cycling officer’s £1M scheme call upon the Transport & Environment Committee to adopt The Roseburn Vision, their own solution as to how cyclists might best make the journey from Roseburn to Haymarket at a fraction of the cost, without ruining the area. Their vision is based on local knowledge and experience; they have (unlike the officers) spent many years observing the traffic flow, cycling black spots, road usage and pedestrian needs. Click on The Roseburn Vision to download it.
The campaigners feel no need to emulate the protected cycle tracks of the US, Amsterdam and Copenhagen as they already have the National Cycle Route 1. However, they understand that Spokes members may seek to get from West to East in minutes, so they propose changes to West Coates that will satisfy their needs, requiring the removal of most on-street parking and the extension of cycle lanes on either side of the A8.
The Roseburn Vision proposes an elegant means to join the Roseburn Cycle path to the rest of the Roseburn-Leith cycle route that is both safer for vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians but also easier to implement and has the additional benefit of actually reducing congestion to vehicle traffic and lowering dangerous emissions. It also improves access north to Craigleith and south to the Telfer subway.
The Roseburn campaigners called upon the area’s residents to comment on their scheme. Their consultation was, of necessity, speedy (two weeks) and only on-line; it concluded on the 5th June: the cycling officers are about to release their revised version. Everybody in Edinburgh was invited to complete the Survey Monkey questionnaire at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/roseburn .
The campaigners are indebted to the Donaldson’s Area Amenity Association for many of the suggestions they put forward now, originally in the proposal they submitted to the Council on the 29th January. There was a drop-in event at the Roseburn Café , on 1st June
If you want to see the whole route in more detail, double-click on the route map at the top of this page; the numbering is reflected in the survey results, which can be viewed here: Analysis-Final
In the News
It should also be remembered that the segregated track sits on the A8 and this five-mile stretch of road has been named the worst in the UK outside of London for congestion- See Herald of 15th March
We have persuaded the SNP group to consider getting the Roseburn Vision costed by Council Transport staff as an option that can be voted upon, along with the Council proposal.
Our hope is that when it comes to the crunch Transport Committee meeting (whether that be in August or November) there will be at least two options before the Councillors- the Cycling officer’s protected cycle track scheme and the Roseburn Vision. And our one will both be vastly cheaper and have the support of 99% of traders and residents.
As one of our challenges, we must defeat the arguments made by those who would see the Council implement their scheme.
Local man Henry Whaley of the Royal Bank of Scotland Bicycle User Group set up a counter-petition to our one back in January 2016. It closed with 800 signatures at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-roseburn-west-coates-protected-cycle-route The petition is being used by Cllr Hinds to cancel out our complaints.
The Group are now running their own Roseburn community website http://www.roseburncycleroute.org.uk setting out the arguments in favour of the Council scheme. They have panned our Roseburn Vision : read their critique of our scheme here
Who actually proposed the Council Madcap Scheme in the first place?
At the Murrayfield Community Council meeting of the 31st May, the Council cycling officer Phil Noble revealed that the Council are offering a walkabout with Community Council members (we will be on that) and Phil said the Council will go round every single one of the 56 businesses en route and “talk through the proposals in more detail”.
By this, one can surmise the Council is not for giving up on its madcap scheme of protected cycle tracks. It seems any changes made to their plan must be signed off by the stakeholders group the Council has created – the Council’s “Active Travel Forum” – which seems to get the last word on redesign; the forum is clearly stacked by protected cycle track- lovers.
The Council declares it is not in bed with Spokes, but if the Travel Forum consists of Spokes members then that is the same thing. (A question for our elected members, perhaps?). The deliberations of the Active Travel Forum can be viewed here and we urge you to take a look at Cllr Hinds’ powerpoint presentation here. This is the Forum that is the source of our woes. The powerpoint paints a very twisted take on our objections on slides 26-30; the Active Travel Forum is being fed drivel.
Much was made at the Community Council meeting of the fact that there will be 20% more folk living in Edinburgh in the next few years- that’s 100,000 people- and the Council had decided that the way these folk will get around the city will be by bike. Their logic goes that if they see a nice protected cycle track they will decide they want to cycle into town to get to work.
The plan is that 18,000 of these folk were going to be living in the big new housing developments in the £1 billion Garden District for around 6000 homes on greenbelt land between the City Bypass and the RBS headquarters at Gogarburn. In the cycling officer’s mind presumably they will all be making their way to the city centre by bike. The pro-track lobby declared that all those in cars will switch to bike if they see a track and that 100,000 folk in bikes were a more efficient use of road surface than 100,000 in cars. That may be true, but the fact is that those 100,000 are far more likely to be using the bus, a possibility that has evaded the collective minds of the Labour Group.
That the track will make life harder for bus passengers (by removing a bus lane) is the territory we must stage our argument on. The mass rapid transit of 100,000 extra commuters from the periphery of the city (where new housing must go) will not be by bike, but by bus and suburban train and tram. Granted, some will choose to travel 7 miles by bike to get to work in the morning but they will be few. More likely they will use public transport. The suggestion of bike racks on the front of busses for those commuters is something that we must champion. The Seattle scheme is the one that must be flogged by us next.
Travelling for 50 minutes by bike in the rain or the depths of winter on a protected cycle track is something even our most ardent lycra-clad Spokes fanatics might balk at.
There are more arguments to be made. See bottom of page for one of mine (congestion charging). Getting your bike onto a Seattle bus video is illustrated here https://youtu.be/ZoE2MKHM7IA
The re-launched petition against the Cycle Track can be signed here: www.change.org/p/city-of-edinburgh-council-petition-against-the-west-coates-cycle-track-in-favour-of-national-cycle-route-1-re-opened
The Council will postpone a decision on the cycle track until their August 30th meeting of the Transport & Environment Committee- or even later, on 1st November. We have kept up the pressure on the Council until they make up their mind by re-opening the first petition, in the hope we shall boost the current total of 3,500 signers to reach the 5,000 mark. This would then represent the views of 90% of those who live in the vicinity of the proposed track.
An excellent summary of all that is wrong with the track has been created by the owner of Art et Facts on Roseburn Terrace. It can be downloaded by clicking on Concerns about the Council Scheme- by George Rendall 050616
Another Protected Cycle Track in Scotland
Another cycle track that has caused a lot of controversy in the Bearsden area of Glasgow is the Bearsway. They have gone ahead with it despite protests and it is very unpopular even with a few cyclists. My informant does occasionally see a cyclist on it but the serious ones seem to still ride on the road.
The Scotsman revealed on 12th August that Glasgow had won £6.5M from Sustrans for a cycle track into the City Centre “to encourage timid cyclists”. The difference here being that Glasgow’s track will be split to allow cyclists to cycle with the traffic. Also some arterial roads in Glasgow are very quiet since the motorway was built, drivers preferring to take the fast way into town. In these settings, increased congestion is unlikely. More here
Our new MSP is Ruth Davidson, leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland. 40 Petition-signers have written to her explaining that this track is taking £0.5 of taxpayers cash from the Scottish Government through Sustrans. We have asked her if she will condone throwing £500,000 of our money at a track that nobody wants. There is another £0.5M coming from the Council that will come from our rates, but she can do nothing about that. However, if Sustrans withdraw the Government’s £0.5M then the whole scheme will fail, so she’ll be doing ratepayers a favour too.
She has been reminded that there is already a perfectly good alternative, the National Cycle Route 1, which runs at Sustrans back door. (Sustrans are located at 91 Haymarket Terrace). Sustrans are being greedy because they want another cycle track at their front door too. They refuse to meet us to address our concerns- on the 26th April they pulled out of our meeting at the last minute, because they have no alternatives to offer. They are committed to throwing away taxpayers cash and only Ruth Davidson can stop them.
Ruth can be contacted at Ruth.Davidson.firstname.lastname@example.org
We also need to lobby Labour, Green, LibDem and SNP Councillors between now and when the cycling officers release the results of the consultation, along with their proposals for Roseburn and Haymarket, in the summer. The Conservatives can be counted on to oppose the track- they are the main party of opposition at the Council- as well as our own Cllr Balfour, the petition has been signed by Cllr Lindsay Paterson (Almond) and Cameron Buchanan ex-MSP.
Our MP, Michelle Thomson, an Independent, has signed it too.
Now that the Roseburn Vision is on the table, we need to ensure the other party that might support it, the SNP, continue to seek that our scheme is costed as soon as possible. We need everybody to make clear this expectation of their SNP Cllrs. If you have a business in the area affected by the Council’s scheme- and you live elsewhere in the city, you can technically call upon both SNP Ward Cllrs to support our Vision. You can find out who your Councillors are- and use this website to do half the letter for you too: it’s at www.writetothem.com . You just enter the postcode of your business and/ or your home and the tech does the rest. It’s remarkable. Try it. And please use our form letter if you are not sure what to write: just click here to download it.
Can you forward the replies you get to Kids not Suits here? It’s good to know which SNP Cllrs are leaning which way. Of course, the SNP Councillors that are REALLY important are the ones on the Transport & Environment Committee, and anyone who gets them to commit to implementing our Vision wins the bonus ball:
Councillor Adam McVey (Vice-Convener), Councillor Gavin Barrie, Councillor Steve Cardownie, Councillor Bill Henderson, Councillor Frank Ross (ex officio)
There will be two options on the table come the crunch meeting- our one and the cycling officer’s one – the Committee will vote yay or nay to one or the other on the 30th August – 1st November – at their next meetings. The other Committee Members are Councillor Lesley Hinds (Convener), Councillor Robert Aldridge, Councillor Nigel Bagshaw, Councillor Chas Booth, Councillor Nick Cook, Councillor Marion Donaldson, Councillor Karen Doran, Councillor Allan Jackson, Councillor Karen Keil, Councillor Nick Gardner, Councillor Mark McInnes, Councillor Burns (ex officio). If you can convince them to support the Roseburn Vision, so much the better.
Since you’ve put so much work into writing a letter, why not send it to the Evening News letters page as well? Please let me know if it gets printed. Address your e-mail to the editor and give your full postal address and phone number at the end. They won’t accept anything longer than 350 words. Send your letter to email@example.com
15th Feb Letters, Evening News -Cllr Hinds, Transport and Environment Convener, – writing in to tell us all that the “Capital is making bold progress on transport” –
17th Feb Letters, Evening News– How not to install a successful cycle route – John M Tulloch,‘Bold plan’ omits road and pavement repairs- Cllr Cameron Rose, Transport progress has a long way to go – Lynne Harley, Coates Gardens
19 Feb Letters, Evening News – Transport ‘progress’ not addressing real issues – Allan Alstead, The £9 million cycle path is a road too far – Dougie Cameron
On 16th Feb, the Evening News revealed that Lothian Buses had come out against the track, saying it would increase congestion. Read about it here.
On the 15th Feb, the News published a Platform Piece outlining why the cycle track was a bad idea. Read it here
On 8th Feb, the Evening News published a double-age spread “So are we on the Right Track?” which examined both sides of the controversy. Read it here
At the City Chambers on 3rd Feb, there were 60 of us there to hand our first petition to Cllr Hinds. The Evening News came and so did Radio Forth.. It was an excellent gig and the speakers were vg: Lady Jill Kirkwood, the owners of Art et Facts (Roseburn) and David Drummond Sewing Machines (Haymarket), Councillor Jeremy Balfour. The proceedings were filmed and the DVD is available on request..
The first petition against the track closed with a total of 2,595 signatures- 1,900 on paper and 695 online – with 224 cyclists signing. All had signed over the space of 5 weeks, since our petition was launched on Xmas eve. The adult population of the area affected by the cycle track is 6,203- so 42% of the population have signed to say they don’t want the track. The other 58% probably hadn’t heard of the proposals because the Council forgot to deliver their consultation leaflets…
The Evening News reported the protest on the 5th Feb, and revealed that Living Streets Edinburgh had come out against the track; their Council consultation submission, issued just hours before the deadline closed on the 1st Feb- is here. They agree that the proposed “floating bus stops” are a huge safety risk- pedestrians will have to cross the cycle path to get to the bus stop. They also say cyclists should be routed along Roseburn Place. They say fewer will want to walk in the city if they can’t get the bus in and out of town due reduced bus priority. They foresee more air pollution. The Leader Comment about the track is here.
Spokes counter-petition to ours closed with 817 signatures. Their petition was on-line and they have no way to prove that the signers even lived in the UK, let alone Edinburgh. It is unlikely these signers will ever see or use the proposed track, unlike those signing our petition. 1900 of our signatures were on paper, with an Edinburgh address, most in the vicinity of the planned track. It is hoped that Cllr Hinds understands one petition comes from Edinburgh voters, the other -from- who knows- lycra-clad yankees?
The Evening News published the open letter to Cllr Hinds from 34 traders on the 29th. The businesses that line the route from Roseburn to Haymarket signed it.
Our initial protest outside the Council’s consultation event – on Monday 18th January at Roseburn School,was covered by the Evening News with a great Leader Comment, and by the BBC and Radio Forth . The Evening News again on 27th January as the “the row heats up”
The first petition was launched on Xmas eve 2015
Edinburgh is one of the most congested cities outside London. Edinburgh’s population is forecast to grow by 28.2 per cent, from the 2012 figure of 482,640 to 618,978 in 2037. Our congestion can only get worse if we do nothing. Kids not Suits has a petition to the parliament seeking congestion charging for Edinburgh- My scheme would see no resident within the zone paying the charge, and no disabled person either, and the charge always locked to the price of day saver on the bus, with income used to pay for suburban rail, fixing potholes and bike racks on the front of buses. Would citizens support my scheme or would they rather see rates go up and sky-high parking charges to pay for protected cycle tracks everywhere, following the view that if driving in town becomes so unpleasant folk will leave their cars at home anyway?