Floating bus stops to continue despite disability charity warnings

MOVES to pause the implementation of controversial ‘floating bus stops’ have been rejected by Edinburgh City Council.

A floating bus stop on George IV bridge. Image: Cllr Scott Arthur.
A floating bus stop on George IV bridge. Image: Cllr Scott Arthur.

MOVES to pause the implementation of controversial ‘floating bus stops’ have been rejected by Edinburgh City Council.

The decision followes the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) warned the halts are creating “an unacceptable level of risk” to those with impaired mobility.

As part of its controversial Spaces for People programme, a £5 million scheme to make “temporary” road changes that will “aid social distancing” in the Capital, the council are building more than 20 new cycle segregation lanes across the city.

For some roads, including Comiston Road and George IV Bridge, new cycle lanes have led to bus stops being repositioned from the curb side to ‘floating’ in-between bike lanes and the road.

This means people using the bus stops are required to cross and step onto cycle lanes each time they board or depart a bus.

At a full council meeting today SNP, Labour and Green councillors voted to reject a Conservative motion calling for “a moratorium on the introduction of any new floating bus stops” until a thorough consultation process has been undertaken.

The motion, which was brought forward Cllr Susan Webber, had the backing of the RNIB and pedestrian rights charity Living Streets Edinburgh.

The council administration instead voted to “recognise that the floating bus stops have been installed on Leith Walk for some time and that monitoring does not indicate any significant risk of increased pedestrian/cyclist conflicts and therefore limited impact on pedestrian safety.”

The council also agreed that it will “hold a workshop including people from groups representing pedestrians, people who are disabled, bus passengers, people who cycle, and bus operators in order to explore how to provide safe bus boarding where comprehensive floating bus stop infrastructure cannot be provided.”

The council will also initiate a public campaign to highlight new floating bus stop arrangements and to ensure cyclists are fully aware of pedestrian priority.

One area that united councillors from all parties was acknowledgement that “pedestrians are at the top of the City Of Edinburgh Council transport hierarchies.”

Cllr Webber said: “I am obviously disappointed that the motion today did not pass. Although the risks and limitations of the floating bus stops appear to be acknowledged, it seems the SNP-Labour administration will be pressing ahead with their implementation regardless.

" Many studies using well designed floating bus stops were cited as evidence of them being suitable, but those in Edinburgh do not have the same design considerations built in.

"Transport for London designs have cycleways the same height as roadways, not the same height as footways as we have in Edinburgh.

"These schemes state that having ‘no conflict’ is key to reducing risks. The decision today does nothing to address this risk and we now will be relying on cyclists slowing down. We cannot afford for the designs to be terrible - the risk is too high.

"I am only sorry I was unable to present a stronger case today to ensure the safety of pedestrians, in particular those with mobility and sensory impairments.”

Edinburgh City Council has been approached for comment.

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