Rat-running and large vehicles (Bath St, Straiton Pl etc)

Discussion and debate on the issues affecting Portobello

Rat-running and large vehicles (Bath St, Straiton Pl etc)

Postby Puerto bella » 26 Jul 2009, 00:27

So fed up with the rat running that goes on in these parts, the inconsiderate drivers that speed past my front door (on the pavement) is one thing we have to contend with but the number of lorries, delivery vehicles and generally large vehicles that come down Bath St street daily. I am now counting at least 7 - 9 every day between 6.45 and 10.30. Am I being unreasonable? I think not.

Why, oh why are restrictions on vehicle size ok in some places but in Porty residential streets its ok for them to do what they like? What is so difficult about a one way system or a Home Zone between Bath St and Bellfield. Why is it so hard to come to a sensible arrangement about delivery restrictions and servicing of commercial premises? I know its all been looked at supposedly, bla, bla, bla but its about time it was looked at again. Anyone want to help me with my crusade, or at least a survey of the rat running for starters?

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Postby Bob Jefferson » 26 Jul 2009, 09:16

I sympathise and I'm certainly interested in discussing possible solutions. As you recognise, there are a number of issues. Firstly, there are a number of businesses in Bath Street that require regular deliveries. These include Scotmid and the Espy and I think Semi-Chem is also serviced from the Scotmid car park. You could ask the owners/managers of these businesses to give you details of their normal delivery days and times. There may be some scope to agree a restriction on delivery times or type of vehicle, although I suspect that they are already doing what they can to minimise disruption as it's in their own interests.

So what other large vehicles require access? I don't imagine that any driver of a large vehicle is going to attempt to negotiate Bath Street or any of the other vehicles you mention unless he/she considers it necessary. A survey is a good idea and hopefully you will find neighbours to help out with this.

A number of measures were introduced a few years ago to improve road safety in the area, including the introduction of speed bumps and the re-modelling of Bath Street. I would support your idea of a home zone but signage alone may not make much difference. It is unlikely at present that a 20 mph zone could or would be enforced for a number of reasons. Nevertheless, the introduction of 20 mph zones around primary schools, including Towerbank and its annexe, has proven to be very successful in reducing accidents.

Slow zones near schools slam the brakes on road accidents

(The actual figures for each area appeared in a table in the paper edition. I can't recall the figure for Towerbank but it was certainly a significant reduction)

A one-way system may well encourage rat-running and speeding. If a driver knows that he is not going to encounter a vehicle coming in the opposite direction then he/she is more likely to drive at excessive speed and that is a danger to pedestrians.

There was a discussion on related matters at the April meeting of Portobello Community Council:

He (Stephen Hawkins) has also prepared a motion for the transport committee regarding the speed bumps not being effective and has asked for ideas that complement a conservation area e.g. Marlborough Street car parking. There was a brief discussion on possibilities that could be considered e.g. parking on one side of the road or making some of the streets one way.
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Postby Puerto bella » 26 Jul 2009, 09:42

Thanks Bob for the info etc. My ideas of Home Zones are much much more than signage and require a radical redesign of the streets to give pedestrians priority and through physical design and removal of signage force drivers to behave in a certain way - ie slow down and negotiate the road layout.

Evidence of this approach is abundant as is that of the positive effects of the removal of signage. Its just not been done on this scale in Edinburgh or any other city in Scotland so far. No reason why Portobello can't be ground breaking?

In addition - it doesn't have to be Council led, there are also plenty of projects down south, implemented and on the go, where residents' groups have 'relaimed their street' and essentially been aided by other agencies to do the work and fund it! My research continues........
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Postby SoupDragon » 26 Jul 2009, 10:38

At present Bellfield St, Marlborough St, Regent St, Bath st and Straiton POlace are all 20mph zones ( apart form one direction in Straiton Place that has 30 mph sign :roll: )

From what I see most of the rat runners come down Bellfield St along Straiton Place and up Bath St, trying to avoid congestion in the High St which can stretch back to past Pittville St in the mornings.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 26 Jul 2009, 11:06

So a solution to that might be to make it a No Right Turn from Portobello High Street into Bellfield Street? On the other hand, that might be seen as an inconvenience by residents of Bellfield Street and would divert more vehicles into Bath Street and Straiton Place. Some drivers would certainly ignore the sign and it could not be effectively enforced.

As for the suggestion to allow parking on one side of the street only, this simply displaces the parking problem elsewhere.

I'm interested in solutions but they have to be practical and workable. The fact is that we live in streets that were not designed for cars and yet we are very much a society that is reliant on motor vehicles. There are no easy answers.
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Postby Puerto bella » 26 Jul 2009, 11:20

Agree, there are no easy answers and the answers require community buy-in and a decision to be made regarding the importance of pedestrian safety and amenity over vehicle dominance and parking convenience. Not something that a politician would take on I would imagine given that people have polarised views on such matters depending which camp you are in. A survey of views would be a good starting point - either that or moving house.
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Postby SoupDragon » 26 Jul 2009, 13:20

Well I've just seen a HUGE Co Op lorry go along Straiton Place
I cant see why it would choose to come down Bath St and along Straiton Place rather then turn right coming out the co op and into the High St

Bath St and Straiton Place currently only have parking along one side ( apart from the bays )

The pavemant at the corner of Bath St/ Straiton Place is in a terrible atate as may vehicles mount the pavement trying to get by
Its not an easy turn in a longer vehicle . I was wondering if the proposed parking restriction near the foot of Bath St were to help improve the turn

I always remember that corner as being akward.
My grandmother used to sit at her window in Bath St watching coaches and brewery lorries trying to negotiate parked cars, tourists etc around there
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Postby Puerto bella » 26 Jul 2009, 13:28

Yip, just photographed that lorry as well as we sat in the lounge wondering if he was going to make an impromptu appearance for some lunch as well - though the window - aaarrrrrrrhhhhhhh.

I have spoken to the manager of the co-op on several occasions. Mr Pb too, although on the last occasion after the third time a co-op lorry had bashed the corner of the house Mr Pb lost it and almost ended up driving our old volvo into the co-op just to make a point! Thankfully he calmed down by the time he'd walked back down the road. Its Mr Valentine's attitude that really sucks, he says he can do nothing or he too blinkin lazy to to anything.

I will be writing to the council and police about the volume of HGVs in the street and lack of adherence to the highway code about driving on the pavement. Anyone else who wants to write in or get a copy of my letter is welcome to. Maybe if more of us complain then something will get done about it.
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Postby SoupDragon » 26 Jul 2009, 13:57

I'd suggest blocking off that corner of Bath St/ Straiton Place much in the same way they did Rosefield Ave and Portobello High St . or alternatively the corner of Straiton place Bellfield Street.
That would make it less attractive as a rat run in if was a no through road
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Postby wangi » 26 Jul 2009, 18:39

Any proposal would have to be demonstrated to be parking neutral, if it was to have any chance of being accepted by a lot of residents... If a one-way system was setup and all parking was diagonal head-on on only one side of the roads then that would probably be true...

Or just block off certain bits to make it a non-through road. Problem there is with providing turning spaces.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 26 Jul 2009, 18:42

It works in Rosefield Avenue and has made a huge difference to the amount of traffic, but that is because there is room for a turning circle at the foot of the street. I don't think it would be feasible to turn the streets you suggest into cul de sacs. As I have suggested previously, the installation of bollards would go a long way toward protecting the corner of Bath Street/Straiton Place and this would be relatively easy and cheap to do.
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Postby Puerto bella » 26 Jul 2009, 19:48

I have been trying to get the minimum intrusion option off the ground for 4 years now - ie bollards and a sign at the top of the road indicating narrow width and unsuitable for large vehicles but it ground to a halt when the person dealing with it in the council seemed to deny all knowledge of it being something on the table for discussion. I am desperately trying to get it resurrected but think that a more radical approach in the long term will be needed. Chevron style parking on each of the roads, allocated turning and a one way system could be parking neutral but would require to be properly assessed, it shouldn't be ruled out at this stage as I think it could work. It would be good to get something off the ground. Any takers on the Community Council?
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Postby Epykat » 01 Aug 2009, 21:43

wangi wrote:Or just block off certain bits to make it a non-through road. Problem there is with providing turning spaces.


Could they block Straiton Place between Marlborough Street and Regent Street so cars could only go up/down Bellfield St/Marlborough St or Regent St/Bath St. That way all streets are accessible but the whole of Straiton Place isn't.

When we lived in Marlborough Street 20 years ago Straiton Place was being used as a rat run - nothing changes unfortunately.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 02 Aug 2009, 06:33

Does the rat-running happen in both directions? Or is it mainly east to west? I think Epykat may be on to something as her idea cuts out rat-running in both directions. How about if you added in Marlborough Street as one-way from S to N and Bellfield Street one-way from N to S, so you create a one-way loop just for those 2 streets?

That leaves Bath Street and Regent Street. You could create a similar west to east one-way loop there, but that would mean even more heavy vehicles turning into Straiton Place to exit via Regent Street. So at best you are looking at bollards protecting the corner and effectively narrowing the turn into Straiton Place with signage indicating 'Access Only', 'Not Suitable For Goods Vehicles' and a 'No Left Turn' sign at the exit from Scotmid car park.

Even so, this would inevitably push more traffic up Regent Street, albeit only in one direction if you make Regent Street one-way from N to S. So the trick is to narrow that turn into Straiton Place in order to make it impossible for goods vehicles to enter, while at the same time creating enough space to enable a turning circle for goods vehicles. It's that last part that is still a problem. Even if you lose some of the parking spaces, there just isn't enough room for a large vehicle to turn. And if they can't turn into Straiton Place then they are effectively stuck.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 02 Aug 2009, 13:10

And even if you could prevent large goods vehicles from turning into Straiton Place there are still issues. Could the communal bins on Straiton Place still be serviced? Is it going to cause a problem for fire engines? Ambulances? What about removal vans?
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Postby sicker » 04 Aug 2009, 12:11

My suggestion for a solution would be as follows.
Bath Street 2way until Mentone Avenue then one way towards prom.
Regent street one way towards High Street
Marlborough Street one way towards Straiton Place.
Hope Lane possibly access only.
Bellfield Street two way.
This of course would cause a problem for traffic emerging into the High Street wanting to join the flow towards Bath Street.

This was discussed many, many years ago and had tentative approval from various control bodies but apparently:-
The Police agreed but the Fire Brigade did not,
The Fire Brigade did agree but The Council did not,
However the Council were in agreement but said the police said no.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 05 Aug 2009, 08:54

I had a look at the parking in Regent Street and Marlborough Street at the weekend. The cars were parked nose to tail all the way on both sides of the road, encroaching on the pavements to such an extent that pedestrians were forced onto the road. With very few gaps between the cars, it's a miracle that residents ever get their bins emptied, even when they aren't on strike.
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Postby Puerto bella » 05 Aug 2009, 10:48

I know, I remember trying to get up Regent or Marlborough with a buggy and having to dodge cars on the road. I am so glad that my original post has generated discussion on the issues. Between us all we can surely come up with a sensible range of alternatives that could be pursued. Just because nothing has reached a conclusion in the past is no reason to let it lie.
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Postby Epykat » 05 Aug 2009, 11:17

It is really frustrating to think I had exactly the same problems 20 years ago with pavement parking/buggy. Worse still I had a double buggy so spent most of my life walking up the middle of roads in Portobello :?
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Postby SoupDragon » 05 Aug 2009, 13:05

Yeah I had the same trouble with double buggies, twice.
Was worse when cars parked on the pavement in Straiton Place, I once couldnt get out the stair unless I took the kids out and folded the buggy to get round the car

I was watching with interest the other day as a tour bus backed out of Marlborough Street then headed toward Bath St :wink:
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Postby Puerto bella » 05 Aug 2009, 14:55

Yes, the coach - was the highlight of yesterday's corner dramas. Why oh why did the driver come along here when he had clearly come from Bellfield is beyond me.

Had an encounter with a delivery driver going to 52 Bath St and speeding along the pavement outside my house at the same time as a friend was going out our front door with his baby in the pram - it was quite disturbing.

Every online grocery shopping delivery vehicle that comes down here zooms along the double yellows outside the house - Sunday seems to be the day when it happens most. They think that because they are coming and going quickly - that its ok somehow. The ironic thing is I never do online grocery shopping yet there must be a significant number of people in number 52 who do.
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Postby Epykat » 05 Aug 2009, 18:55

SoupDragon wrote: I once couldnt get out the stair unless I took the kids out and folded the buggy to get round the car


That happened to me once just at the bend at the top of Marlborough Street. I couldn't get passed on the pavement either side or on the road so had to take No.1 out of the buggy and make her walk while I carried No.2 and the folded buggy until I got to the top! I subsequently legged it along to the Police station and give them their due they gave the guy who owned the van a warning (he lived at the top of the street and parked his van right on that bend most days!) and patrolled the street for a few days handing out tickets but it didn't last.
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Postby Sandra » 06 Aug 2009, 22:00

Bob Jefferson wrote:it's a miracle that residents ever get their bins emptied, even when they aren't on strike.
twice a week at the moment.
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Postby Sandra » 06 Aug 2009, 22:05

PB can't seem to quote you at the moment but - if you don't have a car you do sometimes have to rely on online grocery delivery....
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Postby Sandra » 06 Aug 2009, 22:18

Bob Jefferson wrote:I had a look at the parking in Regent Street and Marlborough Street at the weekend. The cars were parked nose to tail all the way on both sides of the road, encroaching on the pavements to such an extent that pedestrians were forced onto the road..


Bob, on weekends there are visitors to Porty as well as residents so you probably didn't get too much of an accurate view although I'd say the street is full most evenings.
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Postby Puerto bella » 07 Aug 2009, 13:08

Good points Sandra and it also highlights for me the question as to why visitors don't use the car park? If there were improvements on that front then it might go some way to alleviating part of the problem.
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Postby Pal of Porty » 07 Aug 2009, 13:18

Visitors do not help but the problem would still exist due to car ownership levels of local residents. If you have a buggy or want to walk alongside someone then you really have to use the road. 8)
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Postby bearcub » 07 Aug 2009, 19:42

Bob Jefferson wrote:I had a look at the parking in Regent Street and Marlborough Street at the weekend. The cars were parked nose to tail all the way on both sides of the road, encroaching on the pavements to such an extent that pedestrians were forced onto the road.


Funnily enough, we passed Rosefield Street tonight and there's no pavement left for pedestrians to walk on, cars parked completely on it. ;)

It's not ideal, but unfortunately we live in a car-owning society and restricting cars on some streets is just going to make people park elsewhere...where the same problems will just build up again.

The majority of the people who park on Marlborough/Regent St are considerate enough to leave enough space for pedestrians to pass. Yes, you can't walk side-by-side, but they're narrow streets and something has to give.

I agree that limiting heavy-duty vehicles as much as possible is ideal, but beyond that many posters on here seem to want to live in a impractical (for now) car-free utopia.
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Postby SoupDragon » 07 Aug 2009, 19:56

I dont think the car park at Bridge Street is very well signposted.
I'm not sure if there was a restriction on coaches using it.
And I'd suspect few visitors would know there was car parking down near the indoor bowls.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 07 Aug 2009, 22:06

The Bridge Street car park is under-used. From memory, there are spaces for around 65 vehicles. I know this because I counted them a few years back when I tried, without much success, to persuade those Towerbank parents who insisted on driving their children to school to use the car-park instead.

You might persuade one or two extra visitors to use the car-park but there is zero chance of persuading local residents. And yes, Rosefield Street is no exception. The only way to accommodate the number of cars in the street and still leave access is for everyone to park 2 wheels on the kerb. It's not ideal but we have little choice.

It's easy to build new pedestrian-friendly estates with adequate parking but adapting existing streets that were never designed for cars is much more difficult. If there is a solution for Portobello, it's beyond me.
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Postby seanie » 07 Aug 2009, 22:15

Less cars would do it, though I recognise that's not a solution in the "something likely to happen" sense of the word.
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Postby Sandra » 08 Aug 2009, 20:00

Bob Jefferson wrote:The Bridge Street car park is under-used. From memory, there are spaces for around 65 vehicles. You might persuade one or two extra visitors to use the car-park but there is zero chance of persuading local residents.


This wouldn't work for local residents as most people want to park outside their house or as near to it as possible especially when carrying shopping etc home.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 08 Aug 2009, 20:46

Cars - how did we ever manage without them, I wonder? How did you manage Sandra?
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Postby Epykat » 08 Aug 2009, 21:12

I've managed mostly without a car forever - until about 4 weeks ago when I became the proud parent of my very own set of wheels. Stuff the bus now! I can't believe I spent so long hoofing it or bussing it. We're just so lucky we have a private parking space. It would crack me up living in Marlborough Street now.
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Postby Sandra » 09 Aug 2009, 13:17

Bob Jefferson wrote:Cars - how did we ever manage without them, I wonder? How did you manage Sandra?


we have only recently had a car (just under two years). Having a car is definitely handy especially for trips and shoping. But as we are all aware the streets round Edinburgh weren't built for car users.
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