Edinburgh's latest Spaces for People layout 'looks like assault course'

It might look like a puzzle for passing pedestrians, but these markings on Queensferry Road are part of the latest Spaces for People measures to make life easier for people walking, cycling and parking during the Covid restrictions.

By Ian Swanson and Katharine Hay
Monday, 15th March 2021, 9:39 am

The scheme was developed to provide more space for walkers and cyclists in a bid to make social distancing easier amid the pandemic.

Some of the measures however, introduced without public consultation using emergency coronavirus powers, have proved controversial, including this latest development outside Orchard Brae House.

Speaking about the layout Tory councillor Mark Brown said: “I don’t know what the rationale is for having the cyclist part closest to the pavement and pedestrians between the cycle lane and road. On the face of it, it looks confusing.

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The layout on Queensferry Road has been likened to an assault course

“Some people suggest it looks more like one of the sketches from an episode of Top Gear where they go through some sort of assault course.

“One friend suggested it would not look out of place at the art gallery round the corner as it looks like an artwork than an instalment for road safety.”

But Edinburgh City Council said the development (pictured) should be fairly self-explanatory.

A council spokeswoman said: “Essentially, this is a blue badge and loading/unloading facility which has been installed in direct response to feedback received. There are a few vehicle bays with a delineated walkway/buffer on the cycleway side linking to the courtesy zebra crossing of the cycleway. Obviously drivers can just leave vehicles and cross the cycleway at will, but the protected walkway leading to the ramp is designed for people with mobility issues and possible larger loading/unloading.”

The council says the measures are not yet complete

She said there is still more work to be done, including adding “segregation units” – black strips and bollards – which are due to replace the orange bollards and a kerbside ramp for accessibility is also yet to be installed.

Former Green councillor Nigel Bagshaw said he found the layout confusing, but said it has not impacted his positive view of the scheme as a whole for the city.

He said: “I didn’t initially understand what the layout meant for pedestrians and cyclists, I admit it was a bit confusing.

"But it has in no way impacted my view of the scheme, which I think is fantastic.

"Having worked as a councillor in the city for years working to improve traffic issues in the city, I think that Spaces for People is really something that we need.

“It will improve traffic flow and will hopefully, by making the roads safer, encourage more cyclists to get on their bikes.

"Segregated cycling is going to do such great things for Edinburgh and I am fully behind these measures being put in place.”

Mr Bagshaw, who regularly campaigns for sustainable transport, tweeted earlier this week about his confusion over the Queensferry Road layout, but clarified it was not meant as a negative comment on the scheme.

Despite public concern over some of the measures, a Freedom of Information request to the council revealed that by January this year, only two official complaints had been lodged against Spaces for People since the scheme originated in May last year.

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