Vulnerable road users are our priority - Lesley Macinnes

Every year Road Safety Week gives us cause to reflect on everyone’s right to travel, however they choose, without fear of injury or worse.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 7:00 am

This was brought into sharp focus by the tragic death of Heather Stronach, who was recently killed when cycling on Portobello’s King’s Road junction. This is a truly awful loss for Heather’s family and friends, and they have my sincere condolences.

What cannot be ignored is that this is the second fatality at this junction in the space of a year. It also follows the equally tragic loss of James Harrison, who was killed on Mount Vernon Road in June.

And it adds to an increasing list of deaths, injuries and near misses suffered by vulnerable road users in our city.

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I know many will have shared my reaction to the heart-breaking incident in Portobello – one of sorrow, anger at yet another fatality on our roads and frustration that we cannot eliminate this kind of risk to those who simply want to cycle and walk around Edinburgh.

I want to reassure you that those feelings will be acted on. This is a dreadful stage in the Capital’s history, but it can also be a turning point.

Our transport network has evolved over a long time, with significant increases in traffic volume and size of vehicles. This has resulted in several dangerous, complex junctions across the city where cyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair-users are forced to share space with very heavy traffic.

Last week I received cross-party support for a motion to the Transport and Environment Committee which commits us to explore ways of improving safety for vulnerable road users at these major junctions.

Over recent weeks, I have met with senior officers Portobello to identify possible interim measures that can be introduced quickly and longer-term changes to produce substantial improvements . This will build on ongoing design work in response to last year’s fatal accident.

Our transport team has already set to work assessing key junctions across the city to identify the next steps toward a safer environment for those most at risk on our roads.

Strategically, we’re working towards a safer, more inclusive city, where travel by foot, bike or wheelchair is enjoyable and risk-free. Bold projects like City Centre Transformation and the City Centre West to East Link will create people-friendly spaces while 20mph speed limits are making streets calmer for everyone.

The Spaces for People programme facilitates safer and easier cycling, walking and wheeling as we grapple with the effects of a global pandemic.

Tomorrow, councillors will consider the next phase of measures, including those developed using public feedback. Our intentions for Edinburgh’s future are clear and we’re working hard to make them happen

I truly believe that we have reached a pivotal point in our journey, and that we must reflect on where our priorities lie. Now is the time to fight for increased safety for vulnerable road users. I promise to push for progress whenever possible.

Cllr Lesley Macinnes is Edinburgh Council Transport and Environment Convener