Squeezing trams, taxis, pedestrians and cyclists into limited space in Edinburgh’s historic streets is always going to be a challenge.
That’s not to say it can’t be done successfully – but it is hard to see the new arrangements in North St Andrew Street working well.
There is nothing wrong in itself with the idea of cylists and pedestrians sharing a pavement.
Go to many places on the Continent and you see arrangements like that working perfectly well even in the busiest city centres.
There are even places in and around Edinburgh where it works successfully, including on paths through Holyrood Park.
But these are very different set-ups to the one that has been controversially created off York Place.
For a start, pedestrians in these pedal-friendly European cities are well used to watching out for cyclists crossing their path. We could get used to it as well – given time. But, in the meantime, these shared spaces need very careful management.
There is obvious potential for accidents and friction where cyclists and pedestrians are sharing limited space. Throw in the crowds of Christmas shoppers that are starting to descend on the city centre, the dark nights, the wet and windy conditions, and the steep hill down North St Andrew Street, and you have a recipe for disaster.
The very least that is needed is crystal clear differentiation between the space for cyclists and that for pedestrians, In Holyrood Park, for example, the different sections of the path are different colours.
Even if the council had not erected its single warning sign the wrong way around, there is far too little to warn pedestrians that they are about to walk straight on into the path of cyclists.
This arrangement smacks of being improvised after the tram works had been drawn up and commissioned. It is a badly pulled together arrangement, that is threatening to unravel instantly.