Trams – SPOKES Speaks

Posted by chdot on December 18, 2006

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Following last week’s news that eleven charities have written to City Councillors urging them to back the tram project, local cycle campaign SPOKES has done the same.

SPOKES has always supported improvements in Public Transport. In recent years it has taken an active part in the tram consultation process. At present it is not certain if a tramline will be built on the Roseburn Cycle Path, but if it is, SPOKES has helped to make sure that there is a walk/cycle path alongside.

Strangely, in spite of considerable pressure, the Council (and its ‘arms length’ company TIE) have been unable to say how (or even if) bicycles will be encouraged on Princes Street. SPOKES also has other concerns as detailed in its letter –

Dear Councillor

We understand that the Council will be voting on 21 December on whether to proceed with the Edinburgh Tram Project, and we are writing to give you the view of Spokes.

The arguments in favour of a tram system are well known, and we are convinced this is the right direction for the city, as part of a modern European integrated transport system. We urge you to vote for the project.

Having said that, we certainly do have big concerns, and these concerns are very important to our members. In a survey of our 1000+ members we found 95% supported the tram if cycling and walking issues were fully integrated, but this fell to just 50% support, with many strongly-worded dissenters, if this did not happen.

The concerns fall into the areas below…

a. Provision for cyclists on the offroad sections, e.g. Roseburn path. We have had considerable discussion on this with TIE, and are pleased with the compromise that has been reached, given the many constraints. We congratulate TIE on their efforts in this matter.

b. Provision for cyclists in relation to all the on-road sections – including notably Princes Street and Leith Walk. Whilst TIE have throughout promised full consideration and discussion on this, we are increasingly concerned that it has not yet happened, even in relation to such a vital location as Princes Street. There must be continuing high quality routes for cyclists, and full attention to potential tramline/bike wheel dangers.

c. Cycle carriage on trams. This is a stated aspiration of the Council, but TIE has been unable to commit themselves as yet, even though we have provided evidence of a substantial trend to cycle carriage in European and North American tram systems. At the recent Edinburgh University transport seminar, for example (attended by several councillors) Prof Nigel Wilson of MIT, a tram expert, told us cycle carriage is now absolutely standard practice on all new US systems, and it is having to be retrofitted into many older systems. It would be tragic if Edinburgh did not follow this current practice, and it would lead to continuing pressure for retrofitting.

d. All tram stops should be assessed to ensure that they are linked by convenient walking/cycling routes, wherever appropriate, to nearby destinations and residential areas. A great deal of welcome attention is being given to bus/tram integration. Is the same happening for walk/cycle access to stops?

e. The tram should attract considerable numbers of people who would otherwise drive. The Council should ensure that the road space freed up is used for sustainable transport purposes and public domain improvements, and is not allowed to fill up with other motor traffic.

In conclusion, whilst it is vital that the above matters all receive full consideration, we repeat that Spokes strongly supports an integrated tram project, and we urge you to vote in support on the 21st.

Yours sincerely,

Dave du Feu and Ian Maxwell SPOKES

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