Reclaiming the streets

Reclaiming the Streets of Porty – How do we reduce traffic in Portobello and make in cleaner and greener?

14:00 – 16:00 Sunday 21th November 2021

Bellfield Large Hall

Spokes Porty (SP) & Porty Community Energy (PCE) co-hosted this conversation. There were 20 people present.

We started with two opening speeches ‘What if….reimagining a different Porty, with less traffic, safer and cleaner/greener’ about how we would love Porty to be in terms of transport and moving about (by James (SP) and Ellen (PCE))

We then had two 5 min speeches. One by Mike Livesley, whose family gave up their car and bought an electric cargo bike for moving about town. And another by Alex from Farr-out bikes, who use E-cargo bikes for delivery around Edinburgh. They can be hired by businesses or individuals.

We then split into 3 discussion groups, with the idea of ‘from what if (we want a reduction in traffic) to what next’:

  1. Next steps to change personal habits
  2. Next steps to change business habits
  3. Infrastructure, what if, what next
  1. Summary Discussion – Next steps to change Personal habits

Three Categories of action (some straddle two categories):

1) Personal support

  • Adult cycle confidence club/training – including sessions targeted at women
  • Bike buddy scheme to help people find and get confident to cycle everyday routes
  • Make connections with and between local cycle clubs to help them recruit new members
  • Mass cycles to e.g. ASDA/Fort

Share helpful and honest stories about living without a car/using bike instead of car

2) Reminders

  • Local signage for bike contra flows
  • Better signage for cycle routes
  • Cycle/active travel reminders on entry to Porty (signs King’s Road, Railway bridge and Eastfield)
  • Pedal on Porty (monthly?)
  • Own traffic lights for cyclists

3) Campaigning for infrastructure/training change

  • Mandatory classes for car and bus drivers on how to drive cycle-friendly, e.g. with MOT/classes for drivers with points on their license
  • Gather evidence from other councils on how they build infrastructure, e.g. EV charging points in Musselburgh
  • Practical suggestions to councillors and provide them with evidence/data for change
  • Close roads for cars on Sundays/all weekend
  1. Summary Discussion – Next steps to change business habits

We split the discussion into 3 sections (as per Heart Talk Porty Guide under ‘What’s next’)

  1. What needs to happen first
  • Infrastructure changes, including: 
    • Parking for EVs and Ebikes (also shared facilities)
    • Charging infrastructure
    • Cycle infrastructure, including bike lanes
  • Staffing for e-bike deliveries
    • Tend to be younger and fitter (students)
    • Need to be able to work in all weathers
    • Want to feel safe on the roads
  • Affordability of e-bikes
    • Safe and available storage
    • Grants
    • E-bike delivery can be more expensive than standard, could it be made cheaper? 
  1. What else is needed
  • Support for CPZ, so there is room for storage of EVs and ebikes
  • Limited delivery times (eg between 4-7am) but this can clash with local residents’ wishes.
  • More incentivisation to change, grants, loans, publicity thereof, more inclusion (eg new businesses currently excluded from some grants)
  1. Who is doing what?
  • Businesses:
    • Need to invest in new EVs/ e-bikes
    • Need to lobby council for infrastructure
    • Need to manage expectations as to how far and how quick hot food can be delivered when using e-bikes
    • May need to absorb some of the extra costs when e-bikes or EVs are used
    • Preference often given to EVs but cargo bikes can sometimes carry more, are more environmentally friendly (lower carbon footprint), and cause less congestion
  • Customers
    • Only buy where sustainable
    • ‘Green business award’ so customers know where to buy – something for PCE to set up? – Farr-out publish the names of businesses that use them.
    • Be more critical of businesses
  • Council
    • Public consultations do not always work – the outcome of the consultation may be different from the final outcome, and this creates friction (but: a consultation is not a referendum)
    • Processes often slow (TRO/ETRO)
    • Can focus groups and local interest groups bridge the gap? Can council use these more to come up with workable solutions instead of consultations?
  1. Summary Discussion – Infrastructure: what if, what next.
  1. Ideas that the group was interested in: 
  • Bus gate/traffic gate either in the centre of Portobello (on the High street, either side of the central traffic lights, or further out) – to encourage through traffic to use Harry Lauder Road and Milton Road East/A199 
  • Create a low traffic neighbourhood, bounded by Harry Lauder Road and Milton Road East
  • A Park and Ride with shuttle bus, for example at Seafield
  • More frequent buses and more bus routes around Edinburgh rather than only into Edinburgh
  • Safer cycle routes / more cycle paths including an alternative to the Prom cycle route
  • Marked lanes on the Prom for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Car club improvements 
  • Opening the train station, having frequent enough trains including links with Edinburgh/North Berwick route and the Borders route7
  • Tweaking traffic lights, including making them more responsive to pedestrians/change quickly
  • Route pricing to make it more expensive to come through High Street than Harry Lauder Road
  1. What next? 
  • Need to create a Portobello transport lobby / action group which has wider representation (eg disabled people, car users, active travellers, cycle groups, etc etc) – facilitated by a constituted group(s)
  • Have more public engagement /an event – including engagement with Cllrs and Cllr candidates in lead up to elections next year, invite people who have been successful in creating low traffic neighbourhoods/green transport initiatives elsewhere (such as Walthamstow) and different interest groups
  • Develop plans for a Porty Low Traffic Neighbourhood bounded by Harry Lauder Road and Milton Road East
  • Gather more data on traffic and travel in the area – eg a more detailed wider traffic survey, options for creating a low traffic neighbourhood. 
  • Lobby for some quick actions that do not require a lot of money – eg traffic light tweaking