In collaboration with Sustrans, Edinburgh Council are launching the Commonplace mapping tool, which, throughout June, will allow residents to highlight ‘pinch points’ where emergency measures could help people maintain physical distancing safely on foot, bike or wheelchair.
Earlier this month the council announced an ambitious package of suggested interventions to make it easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to move around the Capital. As well as providing extra space, the proposals recognise a rise in active travel since lockdown began and aim to facilitate this as the phased lifting of lockdown continues. On Wednesday, they were granted £5m Transport Scotland Spaces for People funding, administered by Sustrans, to help deliver measures to achieve this.
Over recent weeks there have been many suggestions for road closures, widened pavements, segregated cycle lanes and other possible actions from across the city. Now, the public will be able to highlight specific areas on an interactive map and provide feedback on barriers experienced, as well as identifying improvements. This, along with ideas already shared, will help shape efforts over the coming weeks and months.
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “We’ve hit the ground running with an extensive programme of measures to help people observe physical distancing while walking, cycling and wheeling, and to support them to continue to do so once restrictions are eased. This week we were delighted to receive a fantastic £5m funding award from Transport Scotland, via Sustrans, which will help us to go even further to achieve these aims.
“We’ve seen a real increase in cycling and walking since the beginning of lockdown and we want to help this to continue as we return to a sense of normality. We’ve already had an incredibly enthusiastic response from residents who also want to see calmer, safer conditions maintained as we return to normal. This new tool is a great opportunity to involve the very people who use our streets to help shape our plans.”
Cllr Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice-Convener, said: “Our transport officers are working extremely hard to implement these changes as quickly as possible, and we’re delighted that the measures already in place have received such a great response from residents.
“We’ve received lots of ideas from across Edinburgh for further interventions, and this tool will help even more people highlight areas for improvement. We’d also like to reassure everyone who has already submitted suggestions to us that there is no need to resend them via this new tool, as we are reviewing all suggestions collectively no matter how they come to us.”
Dave Keane, Infrastructure Manager, Sustrans Scotland, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council has shown great ambition to make it easier for people to get around safely on foot, by bike or wheelchair during Phase 1 and beyond. We hope people living in Edinburgh will engage with the Commonplace mapping tool – it’s really simple, clear and easy to give feedback. Most importantly, it will help the council get a clear picture of where temporary interventions are needed most.”
Responses received through the Commonplace platform will be recorded and used to inform plans, though temporary interventions that will have the greatest benefit to public health and can be delivered in a short timeframe will be prioritised. The website will close for comments on 29 June.
A programme of changes is already underway across the city, including the partial closure of Stanley Street and Hope Lane (between Stanley Street and Christian Grove) and the closure of Warriston Road to through traffic. The first will provide a low-traffic corridor for people to walk and cycle and access nearby green spaces like Figgate Park while the latter will create a wide pedestrian and cyclist-friendly space leading to access to the North Edinburgh path Network.
Existing temporary road closures in Silverknowes, Greenbank, Cammo and Leith have been welcomed by community members, creating welcoming and safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclsts of all ages and abilities.
The Council’s overall approach will be implemented to support the Scottish Government’s phased approach to lifting lockdown.
All measures that are introduced will be closely monitored and refined or adapted in response to any issues, where necessary. The design process for any intervention will consider all road users, particularly people with mobility or visual impairments, and will seek feedback from organisations including RNIB, Edinburgh Access Panel and Living Streets.
Submit suggestions on the Commonplace tool online, by 29th June.