Campaigners in road safety audit battle with Edinburgh City Council
South West Edinburgh in Motion (SWEM), a residents group representing a wide range of residents and businesses, have “commissioned a professional opinion from a road safety consultant” for the proposed cycling lanes set to be installed along Lanark, Inglis Green and Longstone Road.
They say that the council could calm fears of local cyclists, motorists and pedestrians by implementing an audit that they say would take four weeks to complete at a cost of £2,500.
But the council has said that although they would traditionally carry out a stage two audit for works of this kind - it is impractical for the Spaces for People scheme considering its emergency nature.
Instead, they are confident in the safety audits carried out internally at the design stage and say that they will conduct a stage three safety audit once the scheme is implemented.
But the SWEM consultant said: “Section 2 of the design manual for roads and bridges (DMRB) GG 119 provides guidance on the applicability of road safety audit where there are physical changes to the highway impacting on road user behaviour or resulting in a change to the outcome of a collision.
“In my professional opinion the scheme very definitely proposes physical changes that will impact on road user behaviour. Cyclists, pedestrians and drivers are required by the scheme to change how they interact with other road users and there is the potential for a change in the incidence of collisions within the scheme.
“An independent Stage two Road Safety Audit is fully appropriate to identify any potential issues so they can be addressed by the council’s design team prior to construction. This exercise would provide reassurance to both the council’s elected members and the local community who are being impacted on."
Although it has been said that DMRB is only a requirement for trunk roads - roads operated by Transport Scotland.
Whilst the council tends to follow principles set out in DMRB, they are not statutory requirements but voluntary, something that is accepted by SWEM.
SWEM Chair Prof. Derryck Reid, himself a regular cyclist, said, "It is scandalous that for the cost of £2,500 the council would choose to adopt a ‘try and adapt’ approach to safety. This scheme is characterised by multiple design issues that not only are dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians, but also fail to comply with the council's own design best practice.”
Campaigners have also pointed to a cyclist who ended up in hospital earlier this week due to striking a cycle lane bollard - a case that they say strengthens their argument for a stage two audit.
Transport and environment convener, councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “The very nature of this scheme, as an emergency intervention to facilitate safe journeys and help people to physically distance during the pandemic, means we need to act quickly to get changes on the ground. We agreed at the beginning of this process to carry out detailed risk assessments before proceeding with approved measures, followed by Road Safety Audits, which take significantly longer, once the changes are in place.”