A residents group has threatened Edinburgh City Council with legal action if it begins construction of a new cycle lane as part of its Spaces for People project. South West Edinburgh in Motion (SWEM) says the use of a temporary traffic regulation order (TTRO) to construct four miles of segregated lanes along Lanark Road, Inglis Green Road and Longstone Road is unlawful.
Lanark Road in particular has a reputation of being dangerous for cyclists. After Andrew McNicoll lost his life while riding on the road in 2011, his family called for changes in parking and a reduction of the 40mph speed limit.
The council says that the pop-up scheme – which is being created in response to the coronavirus crisis – will help those without cars to walk and cycle.
However, SWEM says that an independent survey of over 1,000 local residents and businesses found that 89 percent oppose or strongly oppose the plans.
Professor Derryck Reid told the Edinburgh News that a principle objection of the group is the council’s lack of consultation on the scheme.
“Before Covid I was an active traveller and used to complete an eight-mile round trip to work by cycling or running. I do realise how fortunate I am to do this and accept that others may have a need to use a car as a necessity. These proposals will have a serious negative impact on residents and business in the area.
“If they want to bring in active travel infrastructure, then they have to go about it the right way. Long-term traffic changes need to be carried out with consultation and not by the exploitation of the community through subverting the democratic process.
“To date there has been no formal notification of residents, as when we carried out a professional survey through a market research company we found that only one third of residents had heard of the proposals prior to the council passing the motion. The council has done a terrible job in communicating what is going on and is being misleading by saying there is massive public support for the proposals.
“I am not fundamentally opposed to active travel infrastructure but you must bring the community with you to ensure that no one is left behind and that the changes are successful.”
SWEM says the pop-up lanes will reduce parking and deny safe access to homes and businesses on the route.
Edinburgh City Council transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “With a new lockdown in place as to combat a new, infectious strain of Covid it’s imperative that we do all we can to help people to get around the city safely while physically distancing.
“Measures proposed for Lanark Road, which is a busy and fast route out of the city, will make it significantly easier and safer for all those who use this part of our city transport network – many of whom don’t own cars – to walk, cycle or wheel for exercise or essential travel.
“Throughout the development of this scheme we have listened closely to feedback from local people and groups, and have made changes in response to help make sure this scheme benefits as many people as possible.”
SWEM says it has been told by a QC that the council’s use of the risk of Covid-19 transmission to infer a likelihood of danger to the public does not justify the temporary traffic regulation order that is being used to carry out the work.
The group says it will take legal action and make a formal complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman if work begins on Monday.