Edinburgh Spaces for People: Residents will be asked to rank three options for future of Braid Road scheme
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Braid Road in Morningside is one of three schemes singled out by the city council for further consultation before pressing ahead with plans to continue the measures. The road was initially closed in both directions in May 2020 as part of the programme to create more space for people walking and cycling during Covid, but it proved controversial from the start. Braid Road is now partially reopened but concerns remain about the closure of Braid Avenue and filters blocking vehicles from using other streets in the Braid estate, as well as the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route introduced February 2021.
The options, which will be published in September, are yet to be finalised. But it is understood they include retaining the current scheme with some additional blocks on through traffic; tweaking the current scheme by shifting some of the filters; and removing many of the filters and allowing more traffic flow.
Residents will be asked to rank the options. Council chiefs are anxious to avoid a repeat of the anger provoked by a previous consultation when the council was accused of ignoring local opinion when it vetoed the complete reopening of Braid Road in both directions, despite overwhelming support for that option.
A monitoring report to the transport and environment committee said there had been a “reduced pattern of cycling activity” on the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route. It said: “A higher number of cyclists are observed to use Hermitage Drive rather than the quiet connection along Braid Road and this pattern was consistent prior to the re-opening of Braid Road to two-way traffic.”
‘It’s an absolute shambles’
Tory transport spokesperson and Morningside councillor Marie-Clair Munro said: “Cyclists are not using the cycle route. They're choosing to cycle where they wish and that's fine – they have found a better way than the council provided. And locals are saying the council has displaced traffic elsewhere by creating this rabbit warren of blockages that cars are going down, they don't realise it's not open, they're having to turn round. It's an absolute shambles.”
But she said the plan to put options to the residents was “a huge step forward”. She said: “When I first became a councillor they were not getting these choices. I've pushed and pushed this and forced council officers to come out and make them walk the route with me.
“This is the last gasp. That's why this is so important. Displays of the plans will be put in Morningside library, residents will be leafleted and then they will be asked to choose what one they want. My worry is that because they have been asked so many times people will have consultation fatigue. I will be knocking on doors saying whatever you feel please please get involved in this consultation.”
The Greens argue that the reopening of Braid Road has made the Quiet Route less attractive for cyclists. Green Morningside councillor Ben Parker said it was important to provide a safe option for people who wished to walk, wheel or cycle into town from the south of the city.
He said: “Through consultation, we know there are some concerns from some residents about aspects of the current route, but we also know that people are supportive of the scheme and its aims to make our streets safer and more pleasant, to improve air quality and to help us to meet our climate targets. Where concerns have been raised, it is my firm belief that these can be addressed by strengthening the route and introducing more robust infrastructure around it.
‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’
“In this next stage of engagement, Greens will be advocating for solutions which don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater but instead respond to the concerns raised whilst clearly retaining a scheme to make our neighbourhoods more pleasant, and walking, wheeling and cycling more accessible and safer for all.”
At a meeting of the transport and environment committee on Tuesday, Braid Road resident Paul Bailey, from Keep Morningside Moving, suggested opening up Braid Avenue, creating a cycle lane uphill and reducing parking both there and on Hermitage Drive.
But Ed Hawkins, from Blackford Safe Routes, called for tougher restrictions in the area. He told the committee: “We ask that all the rat runs in the Braid estate are stopped up, including Hermitage Drive and Midmar Drive, and a proper, full low traffic neighbourhood introduced. This would meet residents’ demands to reduce speeding and the excess traffic.”
Transport convener Scott Arthur said there had been a meeting with the councillors for the area to look at the options for the Braid estate “I think we have three viable propositions to take to the community to help decide the future of the scheme."