Thursday, 17 September 2009

W Savile Terrace traffic light proposal

The Council are currently consulting on a proposal to install traffic lights at the junction of West Savile Terrace at Mayfield Road. Here are some of the principal issues:
  • The junction is a key cycle route especially between Kings Buildings and George Square (much used by students)
  • The junction has an unenviable casualty record including another serious collision involving a cyclist in May this year.
  • Safe Routes to Schools have been campaigning for some time to have safety measures implemented at this junction
  • Council engineers have looked at the junction and, after consideration of a number of alternative schemes, have recommended putting traffic lights at the junction. This would involve removing and incorporating the pedestrian crossing south of the junction, and removing the current blisters a few yards along West Savile Terrace.
  • The scheme proposed would cost around £200,000 and money has been identified to make it happen if the proposal is approved. If the consultation shows divided opinions it is likely to go to the Transport Committee for a decision.

I have spoken with many people who consider something must be done. I agree. However, my view is that this is an expensive scheme and that the money would be better spent with more minor traffic arrangements (signs, road markings etc) and use the remainder of the available money to upgrade the George Square to Kings Buildings cycle route which is a separate project (currently underfunded).

Views will be welcomed. Add them below, or send them to the department and email them direct to me.


Euan said...

Do you have more details of the bike accidents? Is it from cyclists coming north down Mayfield Road colliding with cars turning out of West Saville Terrace? And is 14 accidents in 10 years higher than average?

CR said...

IIRC the majority (but by no means all) the cyclist casualties have been nothbound downhill in Mayfield Road with a combination of motor vehicles invilved - emerging from West Savile, and north and south in Mayfield Road.

14 is a lot especially as two were very serious. It is, though, a much used cycle route.

Euan said...

I live by the junction and am a cyclist and driver and have never encountered any problems. Surely a stop sign rather than give way would be one more minor step in dealing with it.

Or maybe, more radically we could trial the Hans Monderman approach.

1.5 bike accident per year on a busy route doesn't seem statistically excessive to me annd spending £200K to increase traffic noise and pollution outside my window is pretty unappealing.

CR said...

These are casualty figures. For every injury there are likely to be a good handful of other collisions. And 2 of them were really very serious.

So that does need addressed and my view is that rather more than a Stop sign is needed. But I particularly agree that traffic noise and, particularly pollution are not factored into the calculations. I think it is likely that we lose far more people to traffic induced pollution than we do to collision casualties.

I agree with you that traffic lights is the wrong (and expensive) way to go.

Hans Monderman would be very attractive but his ideas have not been trialled here.

Bob said...

As a local resident, parent and road user I attended the meeting facilitated by Sciennes School Council on 27 October and was more than disappointed to hear - and then read your comments here.

This is easily the most dangerous junction to use on the way into town from this area - whether you are crossing as an adult, with a pram, with children, with a stick, or cycling.
From a safety angle you have to agree that the best solution is traffic lights. Any other solution is compromising the safety of all users of this junction.
So is it worth compromising safety and why?

You particularly appear to suggest that a rise in noise and air pollution outweights the safety issue. In fact " is likely that we lose far more people to traffic induced pollution than we do to collision casualties".

What nonsense.
The Council traffic officials at the meeting - who should know - this is what they do after all - suggested that the traffic flow around this junction should improve as a result of the proposal.
They also outlined the various means to prioritise traffic flow along Mayfield Road - to avoid unnecessary queues.

But let's assume that they are wrong and also forget about the current traffic queues that build up on West Saville Terrace at peak times.

This is not a high volume traffic junction within Edinburgh. I wonder if it is the top 100 of most used junctions?
Any imagined or actual increase in air pollution arising from this proposal would be insignificant.
You are guilty, I'm afraid, of adopting an ill considered scaremongering argument that simply does not stack up.

I'm afraid the needs of the local community are best served by putting lights at this junction.
Safety first. My family and I will take our chances with the bad air.

CR said...


Thanks for looking at the newsblog and for engaging on this issue.

1. Here is the link to the particular report I was referring to: . Professor Frank Kelly is one of the key people it relies on. .
The concern is not new but the implications have not been assimilated into transport policy at local council level. However the implications are a matter of logic and common sense rather than science.

2. I agree with you that in terms of preventing crash casualties traffic signals would probably be the safest option. And the point was well made that doing nothing is not an option.

3. There are many issues to be taken into account when making a judgement on what to do. I do not accept that preventing crash casualties entitles the remainder of the issues to be ignored or discounted. It must be put in proper perspective along with the others.

4. If you are suggesting that traffic flows will improve as a whole with the introduction of traffic lights, that appears to me to be credulous argument. The traffic officials do have expertise - but would readily admit they don't always get the right answers. Expertise deserves respect - it is not a trump card.

5. Actually I think the argument that the perceived risk to children (in place of the empirical evidence) should trump any other consideration is more at risk of being described as scaremongering. I appreciate your understanding and experience has brought you to a different conclusion from myself and others. But I stick with my view that the range of issues involved here make traffic lights a poor option for ALL those affected by this junction.

6. Next, let me restate the air quality issue. The congestion and interruption of smooth travel will increase emissions from the increase in idling and acceleration. This does not just affect pedestrians but also cyclists and motor vehicle occupants as well. Figures are contained in the report above and I am happy to quote them in detail along with scaling down for the Edinburgh situation - and comparison with the current crash casualty stats. I repeat, the indications are that the risks are greater from traffic air pollution than from crash casualties. Vehicle crash casualties are visible, dramatic and measurable. Illness and death from breathing related morbidity is less so. That doesn't mean it should not be given proper weight.

7. Over the 24 hour day traffic lights, especially at a relatively low volume junction as this is, are extraordinarily inefficient. The evidence of being able to 'avoid unnecessary queues' by the various means of avoiding traffic flows is not impressive in other areas.

8. Finally can I just point out that we have engaged on some of the key issues. There are many, many more considerations, each in themselves probably not as weighty as the arguments we have exchanged, but which cumulatively make traffic lights not a good solution for this junction. You heard just a few of them last night.

Thanks for stimulating further consideration of this. I hope you have found it as helpful to do so as I have.

Good wishes,


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