Edinburgh roads: Residents step up fight to stop their estate being reopened to traffic

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Residents are stepping up the fight to stop their Edinburgh estate being reopened to traffic.

People living in Morningside’s Braid estate have launched a petition calling on the city council to rethink its decision to scrap the road closures introduced under the Spaces for People programme during Covid, including the Quiet Route for cyclists and pedestrians.

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

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Instead the council plans to install a segregated cycle lane on Braid Avenue and Hermitage Drive and reopen the estate to through traffic. This was the option favoured by 48 per cent of people in a consultation.

But a spokesperson for the group of residents organising the petition claimed no-one was going to be happy about the new arrangement. She said: “A lot of people don’t understand what the implications are. Some motorists seem to be under the impression everything will go back to the way it was before, but that's not the case.

Cyclists believe it's not going to be safe. It's not going to be as helpful for children trying to cycle to and from school because Braid Avenue has a very steep gradient and at the moment, with the Quiet Route as it stands, they're able to zigzag through the estate. I don't think the motorists are happy with it, the cyclists don’t like it and the residents aren’t happy with it either.”

The residents used Freedom of Information to obtain notes of a meeting about the options in which officials acknowledged reopening the roads was “likely to result in net increase in traffic back to 2018 levels”.

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The spokesperson said: “When we found out they were going to put options together, we did our own suvrey. We went door to door on Braid Avenue to find out what the feeling was on the street and over 80 per cent of people said they wanted to keep the current layout, but that wasn’t an option in the consultation

She said segregated cycle lanes were not suitable for residential streets where cars would be reversing out of driveways across the cycle lane.

And she highlighted concerns about the removal of parking along both sides of Hermitage Drive and one side of Braid Avenue. “This will have such an impact on people using the Hermitage as a place for exercise and recreational activity. It will also disadvantage families at St Peter’s primary, which has a far-reaching catchment. Many families drive and park on Braid Avenue, then walk their kids to school.”

She acknowledged there were problems with the current scheme which had to be addressed. “There are streets that have seen increased traffic flow and there does need to be something done about it, but to open up the entire estate again to through traffic and dismantle the Quiet Route and undo all the good it has brought just seems like a completely backward step.” 

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Transport convener Scott Arthur said he had personally favoured a different option - reopening Braid Avenue to through traffic, with segregated cycleways on Braid Avenue and Hermitage Drive, bit retaining filters on Braid Road and adjusting the scheme to remove through traffic from Hermitage Gardens. But given the survey results, he believed the best way of “resetting our relationship with the local community” was to accept the option chosen.

But he stressed the reopening to traffic and the installation of the segregated cycle lane was a trial. He said: “I am expecting a drift towards a hybrid position as the trial proceeds.” And he said before anything happened, “robust” speed reduction and traffic calming measures would to be installed.

He said: “Given the history of the scheme, I acknowledge the local community is divided and I’m hopeful this trial will provide an opportunity for people locally to reach a consensus on the future for the area.”

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