Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Meeting on Savile lights proposal

Last night Sciennes School Council held a meeting on the proposed installation of traffic lights at the junction of West Savile Terrace and Mayfield Road. Views for and against the proposal were expressed though it is fair to say the majority of parents present were in favour of the proposal. Also present were local residents, the Council's traffic engineers and some local councillors. This page on the School Council website also reports the meeting and more details of the proposals and the casualty record for the junction can be found here. This previous post contains the background and my views.

The Transport Committee will hear the arguments on 24th November and if you want your views put before them you can send them to To be considered, comments should be with the Council by 10.11.09.


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 previous post 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 you say " 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 made reference 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,


Bob said...

Thanks for your response.

We seem to agree that this is a low volume junction.
We seem to agree that the safest option here is to put lights on the junction.
I agree with you that air pollution is a danger to health.

So where do we disagree?

I would suggest that your point 6 is the source of our disagreement here and the one to give proper weight to.

Any increase in overall air pollution in Edinburgh caused by putting lights at this particular junction would be insignificant. To argue to the contrary is to overstate your case.

I'd let you argue that to avoid an increase is good but that's where your giving proper weight argument goes against you.

We have to put that against the fact that people are getting hurt at this junction now. That more people are not getting hurt is only due to the diligence of the users who recognise that this is an inherently dangerous junction.
By all means we can all continue to play chicken at this junction but let's do the sensible thing.

Unless you are proposing putting in major air pollution measures in across the city then the current risks of crossing this junction far outweigh the additional risks of bad health arising from the small extra parts per billion of pollution that may arise.

The local community deserves the tangible benefit that these lights will provide.


Anonymous said...

I live near the junction and do not want traffic lights. My family all walk, cycle drive daily without mishap. Re-grade the curve north onto Mayfield Road so that cars have to stop rather than give way and look right for cyclists. Remove the railings and give pedestrians priority at the crossing, lights are an excessive response to 2 serious injuries in 8 years. The number of my fellow cyclists that jump lights would mean that even with lights they're still at risk of collision.

CR said...

Your comments are noted, Anonymous.

Bob, a few days ago I posted a detailed reply to your second post - but alas - it seems not to have committed. Ah well. CR

Anonymous said...

I live near the junction and I strongly oppose to the idea of having traffic lights.

I have children who attend Sciennes Primary and have used the junction as pedestrian and driver for 6 years and have never experienced any problems.

Residents of west savile terrace in particular, do not need lengthy queues to disrupt parking that will undoubtedly be caused by the traffic lights.

Simple road markings can make all the difference e.g.pedestrian crossing for concerned pedestrians, cyclist lane, Stop sign. We can do without the extra pollution.

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