Talking about the Leith Low Traffic Neighbourhood, at Gala Day 2023
The Leith Festival Gala Day held annually on Leith Links offers a great opportunity to the local Community Councils to carry out their remit to share information and to engage with members of the local community.
This year, at the Gala Day on Saturday 10 June 2023, Leith Links and Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Councils worked together to gather feedback from community members on the newly implemented Leith Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN).
The stand was staffed by members of the community councils from 11am to 4pm. During that time we spoke to about 200 members of the public, and invited them to share their thoughts about the LTN, using post-it notes on a flip-chart. We encouraged constructive feedback, both positive and negative, and asked people to be as specific as they could be, with examples of how their lives had been affected. In the process of doing this, people ended up discussing the issue with each other, as well as with members of the Community Councils.
A number of broad themes emerged from the feedback, these are covered below. Please also see Annexe 1 for a full list of the comments received. It is obvious that the local community is very divided on the issues.
Timing-wise, this was just at the very start of the LTN. (At the same time, a new controlled parking zone (CPZ) had just been introduced, so it may have been difficult for some people who contributed their views to be sure which project was affecting them most.)
Not all of those who responded necessarily reside within the LTN area, though as self-selected respondents, all obviously felt invested in the area in some way(s).
Clearly this is not rigorous ‘research’, but just a ‘snapshot’ of views at one particular point in time.
1. A general acknowledgement that we need to reduce our emissions
Almost all respondents recognised the importance of mitigating the impacts of climate change, generally, and specifically were in favour of reducing emissions.
“We are aiming for 20% less cars – it’s going to be a bit disruptive, but needs to be drastic.”
2. People wanted safer streets, especially for children
A few respondents said that the closures had resulted in a better commute for children and cyclists, and one or two suggested closing Links Gardens again.
“It [the LTN] is safer for kids and pets. Quiet communities make healthier people – physically and mentally.”
“Sandport Bridge closure improves commute for pedestrians and transition from cycle path (Water of Leith).”
3. Very poor consultation and communication with community
The vast majority of respondents said that they didn’t feel there had been adequate consultation by the Council about the LTN. They felt this was typical of the Council and were pessimistic, feeling that their feedback had not been / would not be listened to, and that the Council would not modify its plans. Community members frequently said “what’s the point?” as they felt their views would not be taken into account and that it was too late to do anything. There was quite a bit of anger and frustration. In addition, there was feedback about the lack of sufficient joined-up thinking between the LTN, CPZ and other transport related schemes and initiatives.
“Residents need better communication about decision process, rationale and time frames.”
“Poorly communicated! Changes before anyone knows about it.”
“Not enough consideration for vulnerable people – access including carers and visitors not great.”
“No joined up thinking about various traffic initiatives – LTN, CPZ, LEZ, Trams, etc.”
“I don’t agree with how things have been rolled out. Residents have been ignored.”
Several respondents mentioned the planters specifically, and felt that they hadn’t been properly planned and thought through, especially from a sustainability perspective.There was concern that these would not be properly maintained by the council. Residents pointed out the neglect of existing trees and planters.
4. Lack of consultation on, and information about which roads were being closed, and why
This issue seemed to have caused the most frustration. There was consternation and confusion about which roads had been closed and why, seemingly without consultation. The diverting of traffic down Salamander Place came up frequently.
“I love the principle but Salamander Place is not designed for the traffic it now takes, the junction at the Links is dangerous.”
“Salamander Place is not fit for all the traffic that is going to be going down! It’s a cobbled street!”
“Have destroyed my street – Salamander Place – all the traffic pushed down one cobbled street to be most congested place now!”
“Having only one main route (Commercial Street) is causing more congestion and pollution, reopen Sandport.”
“Elderly can’t get to St James’ Church.”
“As a community nurse it has made getting to home visits and parking for home visits more challenging.”
“Unfair on disabled drivers. Just look at Coburg Street.”
“Love safe cycle paths but don’t close all streets around. Not all black and white.”
“Stupid beyond belief. Okay in principle but should have been better thought through.”
5. Significant concern that traffic and pollution have been displaced to boundary roads
Connected to the confusion over why certain streets have been closed and not others, respondents also shared concerns that the LTN wasn’t actually reducing traffic, but merely pushing it out on to the main roads that surround the zone, and that these are now even more polluted and busy, penalisng residents and pedestrians there.
“Great idea but I live on Great Junction Street and am worried that traffic and pollution by my flat will increase.”
“Open Coburg Street and Academy Street, Duke Street is now too congested, most polluted.”
“Traffic and pollution just get displaced.” “Causing congestion on main roads.” “Bottom of Leith Walk is a car park.”
“Great idea IF it reduces traffic in Leith, but currently creating lots of additional traffic and pollution, making it difficult/dangerous as a pedestrian. Also disrupting buses again after 5 years of tramworks!”
“I spend about 10 mins extra per day in my car idling at low speeds. It doesn’t work.”
“Leith cut in two halves. Traffic congestion. Stupid, stupid.”
6. John’s Place pocket park is unwelcome and a waste of money
There was added confusion about why John’s Place had been pedestrianised in parts, and why resources have been spent on this change, especially given its location right next to Leith Links.
“John’s Place “pocket park” is stupid. Should have spent the money on doing up the bowling green.”
“Why close John’s Place? Why put this right next to a huge park?”
“It is ridiculous to create an area right beside Leith Links where there is already plenty of leisure space. Save John’s Place!”
7. Travel in and out of Leith
With the road closures and added congestion on boundary roads around the LTN, people said that it was becoming more difficult to get in and out of Leith.
“As a business owner, it has created a lot of issues for travel in/out, parking and deliveries. Needs urgently reviewed.”
“To get to Western General from the Links now requires adding to congestion on Salamander Street and Great Junction Street.”
“There are simply no alternative routes for east/west traffic, so congestion builds up on Salamander, Bernard Street, Commercial Street.”
8. Close The Shore
We heard time and again that residents would have preferred The Shore area to be closed to traffic (rather than Sandport Bridge etc.). People felt that if they had been consulted, this is what could have happened and that it would have had multiple benefits for restaurants, bars, pedestrians, and well-being and enjoyment.
“Close the Shore to traffic, it is a beautiful place for pedestrians.”
“Pedestrianise the Shore and increase commercial space for outdoor seating.”
“Why close Sandport Street? Close the Shore where people sit by the water in cafes and pubs.”
Throughout the day we heard from people who represented different demographics of the Leith and Leith Links areas. We observed that younger people were inclined to be more positive towards the LTN and had more general views on why climate change must be mitigated and emissions reduced. They didn’t appear to have been personally very affected by the changes either positively or negatively. Many of these people said that they cycled.
Older people, carers, people with disabilities, people connected with local businesses trying to trade in the area, and those who had to drive out of the city for work, felt that they had been directly affected by the LTN and that it made their lives more difficult. Many had concrete examples about the impact on their day to day.
Across the board, it was felt that the community hadn’t been properly considered, consulted, communicated with, or listened to.
Numerically, there were more comments AGAINST the LTN than FOR it.
- We urge Edinburgh Council to engage further and more deeply with the communities affected by the LTN from now on, during the 18-month review period.
- We recommend that greater effort be made to hear from elderly and vulnerable residents and those who care for them. Since some may be less able to access online surveys, focus groups or door to door in-person surveys might better record these residents’ views.
- We urge the Council to remain open-minded and flexible to feedback received, and adaptable to potential changes.
- We recommend that the Council urgently communicates the rationale behind the closure of certain streets to the affected residents.
- We also encourage the Council to publish and communicate details of how the impact of the LTN will be monitored in 6, 12 and 18 months.
The Leith Links Community Council will continue to gather feedback from residents, and to share this information with the elected Ward Councillors, and with those responsible for the LTN.
Responses collected at the Leith Community Councils stand at the Leith Festival Gala Day about the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), though some responses touch on the CPZ and other changes in the city.
- Love it guys! Keep pedestrians walking!!
- I live near Coburg Street and now I can get to the Shore
- We are aiming for 20% less cars – it’s going to be a bit disruptive but needs to be
- Adopt a planter scheme for better maintenance?
- I feel a lot safer on the Shore when there are fewer cars around. Much quicker too!
- Drivers always shout louder than anyone else. But safe, clean streets are essential.
- Wonderful! Can’t wait for double yellows on Restalrig
- Great if Leith Links becomes safer for kids from school and park users when crossing roads.
- Bridge at Shore closure improves commute for pedestrians and transition from cycle path (Water of Leith)
- More cycling in Easter Road, better cycling on Leith Walk and around Leith Links – support LTN
- Local people, not cars + public transport
- Ignore the well-funded motor lobby
- Important for climate change, air pollution and safety!!!
- A really good thing! Let it go further. Close Links Gardens to cars again. Good for business and people.
- All for less space for cars and more space for people on foot/wheels.
- It’s safer for kids and quiet communities make healthier people – physically and mentally.
- Protect pavements from inconsiderate drivers preventing movement for mobility challenged
- Great, seeing a difference already. Great for walking and cycling, clean air.
- Climate change, air pollution, safer streets
- Just returned to Leith Links – what a difference. Great!
- Best thing to happen for Leith and climate change
- Less pollution, safer streets, more public areas
- Yay – Bikes +++ Cars – – –
- Safer streets so kids can play and walk home!
- Give streets back to people not to cars!
- Really pleased at the chance to change Leith for the better
- Loving it! Quiet streets are safer to walk and
- FANTASTIC! Coburg Street and Sandport Bridge is great for cyclists/pedestrians. More please!
- It’s great. Expand it! Pedestrianise the Shore, north and south
- I don’t like cars driving through
- Great idea but I live on Great Junction Street and am worried that traffic and pollution by my flat will increase.
2. Great idea IF it reduces traffic in leith, but currently creating lots of additional traffic and pollution, making it difficult/dangerous as a pedestrian. Also disrupting buses again after years of tramworks!
3. Love safe cycle paths but don’t close all streets around. Not all black and white.
4. Less traffic on school streets. Good LTN on the Shore. Improve crossing on Easter Road with Dalmeny Street, unsafe for pedestrians.
5. I love the principle but Salamander Place is not designed for the traffic it now takes, the junction at the Links is dangerous.
- Salamander Street is not fit for all the traffic that is going to be going down! It’s a cobbled street!
2. Permit parking is a joke – council scandalous money-making scheme!
3. More attention to the needs of Edinburgh citizens NOT tourists
4. Left turn at Easter Road now getting put back after all the trouble of taking it away.
5. Having only one main route (Commercial Street) is causing more congestion and pollution, reopen Sandport.
6. I don’t agree with how things have been rolled out. Residents have been ignored.
7. Parking issues for residents. Yellow lines OTT!!!
8. John’s Place “pocket park” is stupid. Should have spent the money on doing up the bowling green.
9. Why close John’ Place? Why put this right next to huge park?
10. No left turn off Leith Walk a nightmare. But buses slashed too, will we get 12 or 21 back??
11. Bus service disrupted since trams
12. Yellow lines outside Doctor surgery = problem with parking for patients (Mill Lane)
13. Edinburgh Council’s transport plans stink
14. As a business owner, it has created a lot of issues for travel in/out, parking and deliveries. Needs urgently reviewed.
15. Close the Shore to traffic, it is a beautiful place for pedestrians
16. Close the Shore to all traffic
17. Fix the cobbles at Tower Street (Constitution Street corner), Camber? Is now off and drains blocked causing flooding
18. Now dangerous, especially with two schools nearby. Close Links Gardens again.
19. Not thought through
20. Bottom of Leith Walk is a car park
21. Almost impossible to cross Leith Walk – just went too far
22. Open Coburg Street and Academy Street, Duke Street now too congested, most polluted
23. Need to turn left on Leith Walk
24. Traffic and pollution just get displaced
25. Why close Sandport Street? Close the Shore where people sit by the water in cafes and pubs
26. Residents need better communication about decision process, rationale and time frames
27. Over the top! E.g. closing the Sandport Bridge getting to Aldi
28. The most poorly thought out, half-witted project yet. Polluting key areas, causing maximum congestion, making it unsafe to cross main roads. Hell mend you!
29. Only makes sense if you close The Shore.
30. Close the Shore! And some other streets.
31. Stupid beyond belief. Okay in principle but should have been better thought through.
32. Pedestrianise the Shore and increase commercial space for outdoor seating.
33. Elderly can’t get to St James’ Church
34. Close The Shore! We love the idea of coffees/drinks in the sun outside!
35. It is ridiculous to make Easter Road into resident parking without telling the residents it is going to happen.
36. To get to Western General from the Links now requires adding to congestion on Salamander Street and Great Junction Street
37. Why not close The Shore? Any other city would make the most of it!
38. How are the emergency services able to get places quickly with the road closures?
39. This will increase pollution on Salamander Place!
40. Absolutely crazy!
41. Causing congestion on main roads
42. Stop developing industrial and commercial areas into residential
43. What plans do you have for looking after the planters!!!
44. Poorly communicated! Changes before anyone knows about it
45. It is ridiculous to create an area right beside Leith Links where there is already plenty of
leisure space. Save John’s Place!
46. As a community nurse it has made getting to home visits and parking for home visits
47. Unfair on disabled drivers. Just look at Coburg Street.
48. Have destroyed my street – Salamander Place – all the traffic pushed down one cobbled
street to be most congested place now!
50. Permit – money for council that residents need to cover, outrageous
51. Road closures a DISASTER. Traveling from other side of Leith Walk to Easter Road is
52. Why close Sandport and not the Shore?
53. Why close Sandport Street where there was no congestion. Close the Shore.
54. Accident waiting to happen, bikes incoming to oncoming traffic over cobbled roads!
55. Causes congestion, more pollution, poor public transport
56. Not enough consideration for vulnerable people – access including carers and visitors not great
57. Lived here for 50 years, this is terrible
58. The double yellow lines around Chapel Lane are preventing my daughter and other carers from visiting their dependents.
59. No joined up thinking about various traffic initiatives – LTZ, LEZ, Trams, etc.
60. I spend about 10 mins extra per day in my car idling at low speeds. It doesn’t work.
61. Leith cut in two halves. Traffic congestion. Stupid, stupid.
62. Traffic on main streets!! Pollution, noise from cobbles