City of Edinburgh Council to ban HGVs turning left at city's 'most dangerous' junction of Portobello High Street and Sir Harry Lauder Road
HGVs are to be banned from turning left at a busy junction where two cyclists died.
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Edinburgh's transport committee approved the short-term safety measure at the junction of Portobello High Street and Sir Harry Lauder Road, which was the scene of fatal accidents in March 2019 and November 2020, both involving an HGV and a cyclist.
But concerns were voiced over the risks posed by lorries being diverted on past Royal High Primary School on Northfield Broadway.
Cycle campaign group Spokes Porty backed the plan as “the least worst option of a group of horrible options” but said they were “frustrated and saddened” it had taken almost a year since the last accident to get to this point.
A representative of the group told the committee: "That junction remains the most dangerous place in the city for cyclists. We cannot leave it as is."
She added: “We are really disappointed the short-term improvements will not be in place until Feb 2022. This will mean cyclists will continue to face real dangers.”
It comes after forty-year-old Stuart Elliot died just 30 minutes following a crash which saw him thrown from his bike at the junction. His partner Pamela had been expecting the couple’s first child at the time of his tragic death.
The same junction claimed the life of 36-year-old Heather Stronach, from Musselburgh, in November last year.
Under the immediate plans, the left-turn slip lane into Sir Harry Lauder Road will close to all traffic and there will be a temporary ban on HGVs turning left onto the road. Non-HGV traffic will still be permitted to turn left by going around the front of the existing traffic island.
HGV traffic will be diverted via Inchview Terrace, Moira Terrace, Northfield Broadway, Willowbrae Road, Milton Road West and Duddingston Crescent.
Measures are to be put in place to encourage lower traffic speeds on Northfield Broadway.
Lee Kindness from Portobello community council said the left-turn ban for HGVs was “a short-term sticking plaster only” and said the approach should be to “get it in as quickly as possible and have it in place for as short a time a possible, and get these HGVs back onto Harry Lauder Road with safe segregation of cyclists”.
But the committee heard that Police Scotland opposed the chosen measure and preferred another option involving a new three-lane layout.
And the Tories backed that option too. Tory councillor John McLellan said: “In the longer term – and the shorter term too – improvements to Fishwives Causeway would provide by far the safest alternative for cyclists. I would agree the junction as it stands now for cyclists is dangerous, which is why I don't use it.”
But he added: “For us to press ahead with an option the police say is not the right thing to do shifts risk from one place to another.”
Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said no-one was pretending the measure was an ideal solution.
“But it's the best we can do in the circumstances to protect highly vulnerable road users at that particular point.
“Two people lost their lives under the wheels of HGVs. This is not something the city can ignore, sideline or play politics with. It's something we need to take action on.”