Edinburgh's Spaces for People roads generate more personal injury claims than average

Edinburgh roads with Spaces for People measures generate 50 per cent more personal injury claims than average, a Tory councillor has claimed.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 21st January 2022, 4:55 am

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Jason Rust, who represents Colinton/Fairmilehead, calculated that there has been one claim for every 4.2km of road across the Capital overall, but one claim for every 2.7km of road covered by Spaces for People schemes.

"It's not great if these measures are meant to be making it safer," he said.

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These markings on Queensferry Road were likened to an assault course when they appeared in March 2021.

The Evening News reported earlier this month how data, obtained by Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs under freedom of information legislation, showed 15 claims had been lodged with the city council for compensation over injury or damage resulting from Edinburgh’s controversial Spaces for People schemes.

In response, transport convener Lesley Macinnes tweeted: “While I've great sympathy w/anyone impacted by incidents like this, it'd be helpful to supply some missing context. [email protected]_CC receives approximately 360 claims pa for similar road-related incidents. 15 claims w/new installations now seem a tad less 'controversial'.”

Cllr Rust took the figures from the freedom of information response and Cllr Macinnes’s figures and compared the number of claims with the length of roads involved.

He said: “Spaces for People covers 40km of road and there were 15 claims between October 2020 and July 2021 per the FoI data, so a personal injury for every 2.7km of Spaces for People.

“There are 1,507km of road in Edinburgh in total and 360 claims, based on the convener’s own figure for a full year, so a personal injury every 4.2km.

“That means that the Spaces for People measures have at least 1.5 times the personal injury claim rate.”

He said it was a matter of real concern that there was a much higher level of claims in areas where the council was apparently trying to make it safer.

“Spaces for People was brought in mainly under the guise of safety and public health and seems now to evolved into more generally travelling safely, so there is clearly something not quite working because there are more claims where the council’s schemes have been brought in.

“Part of it may be they are new schemes which people aren’t used to, but there has been confusion over design and layout – for instance, there are some places where there are completely segregated lanes, others where there are bus tops breaking up lanes, which has caused issues.”

And he said there was also the concern over the financial hit to the council if the claims were successful.

"It is not simply the harm caused by injuries, but ultimately the taxpayer is having to pay damages to the claimant and make the necessary repairs to schemes via an under-funded council.”

Cllr Macinnes said Cllr Rust’s comments were “more than a little desperate”.

She said: “He is indulging in a hopeless attempt to prove that this much-needed safe infrastructure to encourage and protect cyclists is somehow a bad thing for the city. His conclusions are based on back-of-the-envelope calculations using limited information and could be seen as misleading.”

She said she sympathised with anyone injured as a result of incidents and she understood it could time for people to adjust to new infrastructure. Extra road markings and red reflective discs or tape had been installed to highlight changes.

“We know Edinburgh is looking for positive environmental change. The Tories however seem intent on finding every way possible to criticise and prevent the shift of this city towards an environment where everyone has access to safe, sustainable transport choices.

“Those choices will help deliver better health, a cleaner environment and a contribution to dealing with climate change that will benefit everyone.”

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