Fuming drivers demand action over congestion on ‘broken’ roads of the capital

Drivers in Edinburgh have demanded action from council chiefs after they claimed that the city is “broken” by traffic delays and congestion.

By Jolene Campbell
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 12:18 pm

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People who drive for a living have spoken to the Evening News about the difficulties and delays they experience while working in the Capital.

It comes after veteran sports broadcaster Dougie Donnelly took to social media to vent frustration over the Capital’s roads, asking ‘how does anyone in Edinburgh get anywhere?’

Drivers in Edinburgh have demanded action from council chiefs after they claimed that the city is “broken” by traffic delays and congestion.

An NHS driver said his regular journeys are taking twice as long while he’s delivering PPE supplies and lateral flow tests. He said a journey from the Royal Infirmary to the Western General Hospital now takes around 40 minutes - double the time it should take.

He said: "In my post now I travel all across the city and its boundaries, however this job is becoming so difficult and frustrating due to roadworks closures. We are now at breaking point.

"Calton Road has had temporary traffic lights situated on it for years. Now even the Queen’s Park Roundabout to Duddingston is closed and I heard it’s not reopening.

"This will cause massive congestion in this area and with a bus lane camera situated near Cameron Toll roundabout, it will mean the traffic backing up on Kirk Brae, Liberton Brae and Gilmerton Road.

"Considering all the closures for trams the taxpayer didn’t want, along with Spaces for People, we are now living in a broken city. It’s time people stood up and told the council enough is enough.”

The 60-year-old said he was furious after he discovered new road closures and temporary traffic lights on Old Dalkeith Road at The Wisp in Danderhall, which will be in place for 16 weeks, and another at Mayfield Road, which is to be closed northbound from the foot of Kirk Brae and Liberton Brae.

Traffic will then be diverted along Liberton Road to the junction of Lady Road then up Esslemont Road.

He added: "We have the added fiasco of closures around Comiston for Spaces for People, so closures on Braid Avenue South and Whitehouse Loan to name but a few, which in turn throws all the traffic onto the poor residents of Woodburn Terrace where there is a primary school getting hit with pollution fumes from dusk till dawn.”

His concerns were echoed by taxi drivers and MSPs, who have spoken out about safety fears and called for council action to improve traffic management.

Fed up taxi driver Frank Walls said he is concerned about the scale of works and stressed that frustrated passengers can create a safety risk.

“There’s so much construction, repairs and roadworks all at once, it’s crackers,” he said, describing the situation as “horrendous”.

He added: "It creates a safety problem as well. I had a guy on Boxing Day tell me to just go the wrong way down Leith Walk because the traffic was quiet.

"I ended up having to tell him to get out of the taxi. People can get so frustrated and they won’t accept that certain roads are shut so we have to go longer routes putting fares up. Passengers are fed up, the main thing they talk about is the state of the city.”

Mr Walls, who has been a driver for 40 years, called on the council to scrap the Spaces for People scheme, claiming it made driving conditions harder at a time when many are already “at their wits end”.

He added: “I had a near miss with a van driving down Drysdale Road at 4am. There was just about enough room for us to pass by each other but someone had thrown a flower pot into the middle of the road and I didn’t see it. The pot hadn’t been secured down.

"I’m left with a £600 bill now for a new bumper. The whole thing with tram works, Spaces for People, temporary traffic lights all over the shop and closures is down to bad decisions and neglect. Drivers are at their wits’ end.”

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said: “From the emergency services to council workers and taxi drivers it’s clear that navigating the capitals roads is getting harder and harder.

“Over the last decade, SNP-Labour run Edinburgh City Council have presided over the growing and unacceptable levels of congestion the Capital is experiencing with no action to help get the city moving forward.

“We urgently need to see the better management of roadworks across the Capital as the current ongoing tram works, gas upgrades, bridge repairs and general road closures is seeing the City grind to a halt.”

But Councillor Karen Doran, transport and environment vice convener, said the council is doing all it can to alleviate difficulties faced by drivers.

“We currently have two very large scale transport infrastructure projects ongoing on North Bridge and the Trams to Newhaven project which are causing delays in the city centre,” she said.

"We are doing everything we can to mitigate their impact including working closely with our partners at Lothian Buses so they can take immediate actions where there is a build-up of traffic at busy junctions,” she said.

“As a living, breathing city, work to maintain utilities serving residents can be unavoidable too, alongside projects to enhance and make safe pavements road surfaces. We make every effort to co-ordinate this work, in close liaison with stakeholders like the emergency services, public utility providers and public transport operators.

“We would urge everyone to use our excellent public transport links or travel actively by walking or cycling if they possibly can. This will not only alleviate congestion but deliver on our environmental priorities of improving air quality and driving down carbon emissions.”

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