LRT poster on Strasbourg train, photo Hugh McClintock
2 p.m. UPDATE
After the Spokes deputation (details below), Green councillors tabled an amendment calling on the Council to reaffirm the Local Transport Strategy’s emphasis on improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in connection with the trams. It also asked for cycle carriage to be looked at again.
Campaign group Spokes is sending a deputation to City of Edinburgh Council’s Full council meeting today, to persuade councillors that they need to instruct TIE to take more account of cyclists’ needs on road and allow cycle carriage on the trams.
Spokes is a voluntary organisation which has worked in Edinburgh and the Lothians for 30 years to encourage cycling and press for improved conditions for cyclists.
We have over 1000 members and, through voluntary effort, we promote cycle use in many ways, including our highly-praised cycle maps, path maintenance projects, fostering new initiatives like the Bike Station, and of course our campaigning work.
When the tram was first proposed, we surveyed our members, and found overwhelming support for the tram as long as onroad facilities for cyclists did not suffer and the offroad Roseburn path was maintained.
Accordingly, we have supported the Tram throughout, and we lobbied local and central government forcefully when it was under threat.
From the earliest days we have discussed bike/tram integration with the council, and later with TIE and TEL – including the Roseburn corridor, design of on-road sections, cycle carriage on trams, and cycle parking at stops. We also organised a seminar addressed by Hugh McLintock of Nottingham University, probably Britain’s top expert on tram/cycle integration.
Although our recent dialogue with TIE and TEL has been constructive, today’s deputation to the Council is necessary because some recent decisions contradict the stated aims of the Council in the Local Transport Strategy and in the January 2006 joint Council/TIE Final Tram Design Manual.
We have 3 specific points which we ask the Council to include in its response to the FBC (Final Business Case).
** First, the FBC fails in consideration of wider transport issues. Although it discusses modal shift from car to tram, it omits the potential of cycling to widen the catchment area of tram stops beyond that of walking.
** Second, the FBC does not discuss the impact of the tram and tram lines on city centre streets in terms of congestion and of safety.
Many European cities now *rely* on high levels of cycling to cut congestion. We need measures to keep cycling safe and so to encourage more people to make city centre journeys by bike. Cycle use is growing in Edinburgh: our last survey found bicycles to comprise a remarkable 20% of all northbound vehicles on Lothian Road in the rush hour. Trams must contribute to this growth, not threaten it.
Spokes is so exceptionally concerned about onroad conditions that we are taking the unprecedented step for a voluntary organisation of inviting over a Netherlands tram/bike expert to propose ideas for Princes Street, Leith Walk and elsewhere, even if this has to be paid from the voluntary donations of our members. We are delighted that TIE has agreed to participate in this.
We therefore ask that in its response to the FBC, the council reasserts the followingcommitment from the Local Transport Strategy, about bus and tram schemes (I quote) …
“Conditions for pedestrians and cyclists should be maintained or improved.”
** Third and finally, the Council has a clear aspiration, and I quote from the Council’s own Tram Design Manual, that
“trams should be able to carry bicycles, particularly during off-peak operation.”
Yet we have recently been told by TEL that this will not be done (although it might be considered at some later date).
Perhaps you wonder why fit and healthy cyclists need take bikes on trams? We are not talking about a few stops, but about a cyclist in the east of the city cycling to Leith then using the tram to get to Edinburgh Park or the Airport; or a tourist arriving at the Airport with their bike and using the tram to get to their hotel in central Edinburgh. These mixed mode journeys are vital, are expected by European visitors, and of course also increase tram ridership.
We therefore ask that in your response to the FBC, the council reasserts its above aspiration as an instruction to TIE and TEL, so that Edinburgh leads the way on intermodality in the UK. Specifically, we suggest a one-year trial of off-peak cycle carriage, or, if that cannot be agreed, a one-year trial of weekend operation. It is very important that this starts from day 1, so all aspects of the tram internal design are suitable and tested. If it can be done later, if it can be done in Europe and the US, then it can be done in Edinburgh, and it can be done from day 1!
Finally, in thanking you for your time, I would stress that the Council has a responsibility today beyond just approving the Final business case.
You have a duty to ensure that the FBC meets the needs of all transport users in Edinburgh – pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, as well as bus and tram passengers and operators, and is fully compatible with the Local Transport Strategy.
I hope that my comments from the point of view of cyclists have been useful.
More background information on Spokes site.