10 February 2014

Dummy signals

Home Street runs from Tollcross to the King's Theatre junction.  It ought to be a bustling shopping street with an independent cinema, lots of housing, schools, and good public transport connections, but its width and role funnelling  traffic on Lothian Rd, means that it is rarely a pleasant place to walk.  The pavements are narrow - a fraction of the road width - and there is only one crossing point between Tollcross and the King's Theatre.

The problem is, that one crossing is a 'dummy' - better known as a 'placebo' - it's a pelican crossing in appearance, so you (may) get the mental boost of 'pushing a button' (or at least your three year old does), but that button does nothing.  The green man only appears when the pedestrian walk lights at the nearby Kings Junction are also green.  It doesn't matter how many people need to cross, or how long they've been waiting, the crossing is linked to the junction.  So, if you've been at Biketrax on Lochrin Place, just off the west side of Home street, and feel minded to visit the ever-friendly Provenance wines on the east side of the street, you might as well walk up to the intersection and cross there. The last time I tried to cross at the pelican crossing, there was a lorry parked on it, and I couldn't see the lights anyway.

I'd like to campaign for this pelican to be made more responsive - a little bit up the road on Bruntsfield place, there's an excellent toucan crossing that changes expeditiously in the morning and evening rush hours, with a steady flow of people back and forth. But I've been told that whenever the local community council has queried it, they've been told it is 'impossible'. I recently asked if the lights on the adjoining intersection could be fractionally adjusted to enable cyclists to clear the right hand turn, and was again told 'impossible'.

Why?  The great god 'traffic flow' must be appeased.  Pedestrians - no matter how many, how important to the local economy - all must be sacrificed to the gods of traffic, and their acolytes the traffic engineers.

The Council recently passed a motion that included this goal " to assess the need for further support for walking as a travel mode such that it is encouraged and supported in the way that cycling is."  

One step forward would be to shorten the wait time and increase the crossing time at all such intersections.  Another would be to replace crossings like this one with zebra-crossings, as is proposed for much of Leith Walk, and to similarly bring in a 20 mph zone.  

But none of that is going to happen unless we organise and get together and convince our politicians that there are votes in it (not to mention a healthier population and stronger local economy).  So, I'm off to Living Streets tomorrow night, to pitch in and do my part.  Are you  coming too?

1 comment:

John said...

A couple of years ago on Hogmanay, we'd just come out of the King's Theatre Pantomime and an elderly gentleman crossed the road there and was hit by a cyclist,. I didm;t see it but my wife did and said the cyclist had no chance. I had to wait until the ambulance came as we were first on the scene and a doctor from ERI who's been at the theatre requisitioned my new Rab jacket to use as a pillow for the gentleman. I walked back to Bruntsfield with the doctor afterwards and he said the gentleman would more than likely be ok. My wife (who was at m-i-l's house with the kids - they'd wanted to stay and see what happened as kids do) was quite relieved. She'd witnessed the accident and as the gentleman was relatively tall, he'd hit the ground with quite a thump and she feared the worst.

We thought about him quite a bit over the next few days but nothing in the paper about it so we're assuming he was ok after a few days in hospital.

Definitely a bad crossing area considering the footfall of the theatre and the amount of traffic and I agree they could certainly improve it with proper crossing. I've had to cross there a few times after forgetting to get off the 27 bus thinking it was a 23 and run back to get the 15, 16 or 11 bus and it's a long wait to get across.