Edinburgh transport: Go-ahead for Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Leith - changes could start next month
Scheme will be reviewed in six months by Edinburgh transport committee
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme has been approved for a large area of Leith in a bid to reduce traffic, slow cars down and make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Measures include the creation of new cycle tracks, a ban on through traffic in streets used as shortcuts and improved public spaces. The council says the project will create a safer and more comfortable street environment for residents and visitors walking, cycling, wheeling and spending time in the local streets and outdoor spaces of Leith. But there were objections from residents and community councils, including concerns about the relocation of some bus stops and the creation of “floating bus stops” where passengers getting on or off buses have to cross a cycle lane. And Lothian Buses said it feared the changes could increase bus journey times.
The city’s transport committee gave the go-ahead for the scheme, which covers the area from Commercial Street to Leith Links, but with a review after six months “to make sure we’re happy with the way it’s progressing”. Officials said some of the changes could start being made as early as April.
Transport convener Scott Arthur backed the plans, but said the council might no longer talk about “low traffic neighbourhoods”. He said: “The term can be quite divisive, but we have to stay focused on the objectives and benefits it can bring to communities, so it may be that going forward we talk about LTNs less and be much more community-focused and focus much more on the benefits. But I think we should welcome the transformational change that this brings to the community.”
He acknowledged the concerns voiced about floating bus stops, but said the one outside the Omni centre appeared to work well, in contrast to others elsewhere, which had now been removed, which provoked mixed reactions. “What’s really good now is we’ve got a standard set by the Scottish Government which we can work to. But even within that standard it does say we have to be careful around floating bus stops near areas which are going to generate higher levels of bus usage and that’s in my mind because this is a pedestrian street.”
He said he also took on board the comments on the impact on bus travel times. “So those are two slight concerns in terms of disbenefits. But the benefits are clear – making it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle around this community, to access properties and businesses.” However, he said there should be an update six months after implementation, on whether there had been issues on bus journey times and whether moving some bus stops and the creation of floating bus stops had produced any lessons that needed to learned.
Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith said he was “delighted” the final stage in the roll-out of the Leith low traffic neighbourhood had been approved. “This project has the potential to significantly improve safety for people on foot, in wheelchairs and cycling. It will also help tackle air pollution and congestion in Leith and help cut climate emissions from transport. It's a real step forward for a more pleasant, person-centred Leith and I'm grateful to all the committee members who supported it."