An Edinburgh taxi firm has produced a video attacking the council’s controversial Spaces for People traffic schemes – describing them as “an accident waiting to happen”.
The video, produced by Atholl Place-based firm City Cabs, provides several examples of what it calls “risk assessment failures”.
The first example shows a taxi pulled into a “floating parking bay” – a parking spot situated between a cycle lane and the main carriageway – on George IV Bridge, during which a disabled passenger alights from the cab.
As the taxi is parked, a Lothian Bus overtakes the taxi, and drives past a traffic island on the wrong side of the road, followed by a stream of following cars.
After the video was shown to Edinburgh City Council officers, a spokesperson for the council said the bus should have returned to the correct lane, and the council will highlight this with Lothian Buses.
During the second example in the video, the taxi and disabled occupant attempt the same procedure on George IV Bridge.
This time, a cyclist using the cycle lane between the floating parking bay and the pedestrian walkway passes the taxi driver at speed, which the video describes as a ‘very dangerous situation’.
In response, a council spokesperson said: “The cyclist passes around the taxi driver with around 0.5m between them.
“The cyclist should have stopped and allowed the taxi driver to complete the task.
“This is down to cycling behaviour rather than a design flaw.”
In the same clip, a Lothian Bus clips the traffic island outside of the George IV Bar, which is described as ‘a very dangerous situation for pedestrians and cyclists’.
The council spokesperson continued: “In this example a black car is illegally parked on the opposite side of the road, potentially making it more difficult for the bus to approach the island at the correct angle.
“However, as above this manoeuvre has been tracked and can be done safely by buses without clipping the traffic island.”
In the third example, again showing the same procedure on George IV Bridge, another cyclist passes the taxi driver at speed, a bus mounts the traffic island outside of the George IV Bridge, and a second cyclist nearly collides with an oncoming van as it overtakes the taxi, as the cycle lane is blocked by the taxi’s disability ramp.
The council spokesperson said: “Due to the black car being illegally parked [on the George IV Bar side of the road] the van and cyclist both try to pass at the same time using the central area.
“The van does stop and allows the cyclist to pass. This is down to driver/parking behaviour rather than a design flaw.
“With regards to the bus clipping the island, this manoeuvre has been tracked and can be done safely by buses without clipping the traffic island.”
The video concludes: “To summarise, the Spaces for People concept is dangerous.
“Examples show that on a quiet, locked-down Edinburgh day, within a time frame of only an hour there was serious risk – imagine when Edinburgh is back to peak tourism – carnage will follow!”
City Centre councillor Karen Doran, Labour vice convener of the council’s transport committee, said: “The changes introduced on George IV Bridge have not only created a protected route for those travelling by bike into the city centre, but will provide extra space for people to walk and wheel safely once restrictions begin to be lifted in the near future.
“This scheme has been risk assessed and has been subject to a road safety audit, in addition to our own tracking of vehicles to ensure sufficient space for passing, and we are confident it is safe for all road users, assuming they travel in a responsible manner.
“We have had a good deal of positive feedback from people using this route, and have made sure there is still space for loading and dropping people off where needed.
“However, as with all Spaces for People measures, we will continue to monitor it and make any tweaks to improve it where necessary.”
Colinton and Fairmilehead councillor, Jason Rust, Conservatives, said: “This footage brings to life some of the enormous practical difficulties road users are facing with the council’s Spaces for People measures and particularly those with mobility issues.
“A cab stopped legally and situated as sensibly as possible in the broadest part of road between the traffic islands and yet massive challenges faced.
“These movements are no doubt regular occurrences and it is helpful this has been caught on film.”
Story by local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson