‘Trams to Newhaven’ : Response to Traffic Regulation Orders for new Tram route

Following a review of the proposed Traffic Regulation Orders for the new Tram route to Newhaven, the New Town and Broughton Community Council has submitted objections highlighting a number of concerns regarding
  • Access;
  • Displaced traffic;
  • Congestion and;
  • Lack of adequate segregation between pedestrians and cyclists.
The relevant Traffic Regulation Orders  are TRO/20/24A and TRO/20/24B.  The New Town and Broughton Community Council (NTBCC)  reviewed the proposed Traffic Regulation Orders at their recent meeting on 10 May – in particular for the section of the ‘Trams to Newhaven’ route from Picardy Place to McDonald Road (covered by Sheets 12 – 14) and have submitted objections  to them for the reasons set out below :

Blenheim Place Junction with London Road

We are concerned that the current proposals will adversely impact on the safe and effective ingress to and egress from Blenheim Place. It is important that adequate access is maintained, as the only other entry point for the Terraces is Carlton Terrace Brae. It should be noted that there are a number of hotels and a restaurant on Royal Terrace all of which have significant servicing needs often involving larger vehicles.

It is noted that double yellow lines are proposed along the initial section of Blenheim Place at its junction with London Road. This is regarded as a positive change as is the narrowing of this junction to reduce the speed of traffic entering/leaving this junction but we do have concerns that larger vehicles trying to turn left off London Road will struggle to make this turn without causing significant additional congestion on London Road. Please confirm that the necessary swept path analysis has been undertaken for the size of commercial vehicles including coaches accessing Blenheim Place.

We note that it is planned to relocate the pedestrian crossing from Leopold Place (to the east of the junction with Blenheim Place) to the junction with Leith Walk. While we support having an improved pedestrian and cycle crossing at the Leith Walk junction, we believe that consideration should be given to retaining the current crossing on Leopold Place. There are a number of bus stops on this section of London Road and the current crossing is well used by passengers using these stops. We are also concerned that the loss of this crossing will make ingress and egress at the Blenheim Place junction more difficult as vehicles will either be joining or crossing moving traffic that is currently stopped by pedestrian movements across London Road. Retention of the crossing would also reduce pedestrian movements across Blenheim Place where traffic would otherwise be seeking to enter or leave.

We have been advised that there will be a ‘yellow-box’ marked on London Road at the junction with Blenheim Place but that as this measure does not form part of the TRO process, it has been omitted from the Plans attached to these TRO’s. We iterate that a ‘yellow-box’ on the westbound lanes of London Road that extends across the full width of Blenheim Place is considered essential to the safe ingress and egress at this junction. We request confirmation of the plans for the road markings at this junction.

Leith Walk Junction with London Road

We are concerned that the proposal to prohibit the left turn from Leith Walk at its junction with London Road will have unintended but serious consequences including for traffic flow and congestion around the Picardy Place gyratory system and adjacent streets. Although, we understand and support the rationale for improving the crossing for pedestrians, wheelers and cyclists, there are several issues that we believe need further consideration before this aspect of the TRO is approved.

We understand that the traffic modelling which has been used to assess the impact of this change has identified only a relatively small number of vehicles, which would have previously turned left but will now need to circumnavigate the Picardy Place gyratory system before being able to turn right on to London Road. On this basis, it is concluded that the impact on congestion around the gyratory and thus journey times will be minimal.  We understand that the data used for the modelling is from 2018 and does not reflect the other changes made to the road layout in this part of the City nor does it take account of the forthcoming re-opening of the St James Quarter.

It is important that any assessment of the impact on congestion and journey times is based on realistic forecasts of traffic volumes rather than historic data. Without this certainty there is a danger that the consequences of banning the left turn outweigh any advantages from doing so. The rationale for closing the left turn is that this junction would otherwise become overly saturated and that any additional congestion would be minimal. We strongly urge that the traffic modelling is checked to confirm that the data supports these conclusions and in particular the minimal impact on congestion around Picardy Place and adjacent streets.

We are concerned at the potential for displacement of traffic from Brunswick Road to Brunswick Street and Albert Street. Given that these routes are through residential areas, consideration should be given to including necessary traffic calming measures in the plan to mitigate any additional risks for children and other pedestrians using these streets.

We recognise that the proposed additional right hand turn lane from Leith Walk on to London Road is intended to partially mitigate congestion around the Picardy Place gyratory. The inside lane, however, is shown on the plan for traffic that is either turning right or going straight ahead. We are concerned that traffic in this lane that wants to go straight ahead down Leith Walk will be prevented from doing so by traffic waiting to turn right adding to congestion. Please confirm that the modelling does recognise this situation and that the expected benefits are achievable.

We are concerned that the loss of the route from Annandale Street to London Road will result in more vehicles using East London Street (as has been the case during the time that Annandale Street has been closed for tram construction work). We are in particular concerned that buses from the Annandale Bus Depot will continue to use East London Street very early in the morning and late at night at the start and end of their service. This is very disruptive for residents living on East London Street, which is currently not rated for buses.  Do you have any modelling to show the impact on traffic on East London Street, Broughton Street and Picardy Place from the buses and other traffic displaced from Annandale Street? What discussions have been held with Lothian Buses on the impact of this change on their service? What actions are proposed to mitigate any increase in traffic on East London Street especially given that St Mary’s Primary School is located on this street?

Changes to Baxter’s Place on Leith Walk

We are concerned that the current proposals will adversely impact traffic flow and add to congestion in this already busy part of the road network with negative consequences for air pollution.

We note that the bin location on Baxter’s Place is inset into the pavement presumably to reduce the potential for congestion on Leith Walk. This location is however at the narrowest point of the pavement and requires a small detour of the two-way cycle path around the proposed bin location. Please confirm that the width of the pavement at least meets the minimum criterion for such a busy pavement in accordance with Edinburgh’s Street Design Guidance and that there is sufficient segregation between the pedestrian area and the cycle path.

It is proposed to have two left hand turn lanes from London Road on to Leith Walk but the taxi rank outside Baxter’s Place will result in traffic being immediately compressed into a single lane. Provided that there is space available to do so, it would make sense for this taxi rank to be inset into the pavement as for the adjacent bin location to allow two lanes of traffic to remain, which would improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

Cycle Paths

We note that there is a small section of one-way cycle path on the south side of London Road between Blenheim Place and Leith Walk. This is not connected with the cycle path recently installed on London Road. We note that the plan does not show the bus stop (EC) to the east of Blenheim Place. We presume that this is an error. Consideration should be given to extending the cycle path and moving the bus stop further east beyond Blenheim Place to reduce bus/cyclist/pedestrian interactions at this busy section of London Road. The extended cycle path could be combined with a raised table at the Blenheim Place junction to further improve pedestrian safety.

On the east side of Leith Walk at Elm Row between London Road and Montgomery Street (Sheets 13 and 14), it is proposed to split a small section of the two-way cycle path into two one-way paths with a small section of pavement separating them. This section is adjacent to three bus stops, an egress route from Elm Row and a bin location. As a consequence of this design, the space for pedestrians is severely restricted and segregation between pedestrians and cyclists is significantly impaired. Pedestrians crossing London Road walking down Elm Row will need to cross the cycle path at least three times. None of these crossing points have any form of pedestrian crossing shown. The current design does not follow the Council’s active travel hierarchy in that it fails to provide adequate priority to pedestrian movements and safety. The design should be changed to retain the two-way cycle path along this short section of Elm Row offset from the kerb, as it would reduce the number of times that pedestrians (and wheelers) would need to cross the cycle path and leave access to the bus stops unobstructed.

There is a similar issue with the design of the cycle path on the west side of Leith Walk (Gayfield Place and Haddington Place) where there is a small detour of a section of the cycle path adjacent to the bus stops. As a consequence of the proposed design, any pedestrian or wheeler trying to access/leave the bus stops would need to cross the this cycle path at least twice but there is no pedestrian crossing shown. Consideration should be given to revising the design so that the cycle path is inset from the kerb along the full section of this part of Leith Walk and including clearly designated pedestrian crossings adjacent to the bus stops.

Mike Birch

Transport Convener, NTBCC