Edinburgh roads: Mass bike ride through Morningside's Braid estate to protest at lifting of road closures

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Cyclists are to stage a mass bike ride through an Edinburgh estate this weekend in protest at the council's decision to scrap controversial road closures originally introduced as part of the Spaces for People programme.

Cycling campaign group Critical Mass said the plan to reopen roads in Morningside's Braid estate and "dismantle" the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route, meant the council was putting the car first, ahead of all other road users.

Planters in the Braid estate - installed to block access for vehicles at strategic points - are to be removed and a segregated cycleway installed.Planters in the Braid estate - installed to block access for vehicles at strategic points - are to be removed and a segregated cycleway installed.
Planters in the Braid estate - installed to block access for vehicles at strategic points - are to be removed and a segregated cycleway installed.

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They said the decision by the council's transport committee to remove the existing "modal filters" - planters blocking the way for cars - and reintroduce through-traffic to a residential area was made despite the fact the Quiet Route had achieved a 40 per cent reduction in traffic, increasing the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, and encouraging families and younger children to use more environmentally friendly ways to travel.

The committee agreed instead to install a segregated cycleway along Braid Avenue and Hermitage Drive. But Critical Mass said: "Despite initially proposing to use higher quality materials, respecting the conservation area, the council is now looking to use lower cost, second hand materials such as plastic poles and rubber kerbs. Active travel groups have advised that these measures will not provide the same level of safety and that segregated cycle lanes are not a viable solution within residential areas."

Craig Robertson, a member of Critical Mass, said: “I appreciate that mixed-modal transport is the only option for many Edinburgh residents. However this choice appears to prioritise car use over and above all other forms of transport, a seemingly short-sighted decision in the face of climate, economic and health crises, where low-cost, low-carbon and active forms of travel need to be encouraged.”

Critical Mass will start their bike at Middle Meadow Walk at 2pm on Saturday, March 30.

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Transport convener Scott Arthur said: "The quiet route between Greenbank and Cluny Gardens is a legacy Spaces for People project which is more controversial than it should be due to problematic consultations in the past, and the flawed way in which the opposition parties reopened Braid Road. At that point I requested that the reopening ‘should include consideration of a more clearly defined cycle route between Greenbank Crossroads and the Meadows, and how this interfaces with Comiston Road’, but this was blocked by the Edinburgh Greens.

"The result is that many residents, pedestrians and cyclists say they feel less safe. This is why I have listened to local residents, and supported a trial replacing the modal filters with a fully segregated cycle route through the area.  I feel this is the best way of resetting our relationship with the local community whilst also meeting the project aims. As the trial proceeds, I am expecting a drift towards a hybrid position where some modal filters return at the request of local residents. I think it is better to work with the local community, not against it."  

He argued a segregated route would be safer than the current arrangements as cyclists would not be mixing with cars, but he added there would also be robust traffic calming and speed reduction measures in place.

And on the use of cheaper segregation measures in the short term, he said: "Noting that this is a trial, I think it is right that we look at robust but inexpensive ways to test the approach. Once the trial ends, the final design of planters and/or segregation in place will reflect the conservation area status."


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