The introduction of some temporary measures to help people move safely around town centres & protect public health during the pandemic is being put on hold pending further discussion and consideration
While the temporary extension of pavement space in town centres will not be implemented at this time, other measures to promote safe active travel and exercise, such as the introduction of 20mph speed limits in towns and electric bike hire, will be taken forward. Implementation dates will be confirmed as soon as possible.
An East Lothian Council spokesperson said:
“Following the launch of the Scottish Government-funded ‘Spaces for People’ programme to better enable physical distancing in the interests of public health, East Lothian Council carried out a consultation which resulted in almost 3,000 contributions including more than 750 detailed comments from people across the county.
“Many people who responded to our consultation were keen to see increased pedestrian space for physical distancing when moving around town centres with narrow pavements, as well as interventions to promote active travel opportunities for exercise and cycling.
“Having secured £1.4 million of Scottish Government funding, we devised plans for a number of temporary measures throughout East Lothian - including measures to help people walk safely around town centres and when visiting and supporting local retailers. We also want to support those who are visually impaired and/or have mobility difficulties.
“These temporary measures would help protect public health at a time when the county is re-opening for business but progress in tackling the virus remains fragile.
Temporary measures for public safety
“On Haddington High Street, for example, plans were drawn up to temporarily move some parking spaces back by a few feet into a wide section of the roadway, allowing us to then create a wider pedestrian walkway for physical distancing purposes.
“The changes in Haddington were designed to still maintain more than 100 car parking spaces across High Street and Market Street in comparison to the normal capacity of around 120 spaces.
“The measures would also have seen extensions to pavement space in other towns - Musselburgh, Tranent, Prestonpans, North Berwick and Dunbar – including the temporary closure of narrow east North Berwick High Street to through traffic, whilst retaining provision for deliveries to be made.
“Whilst the changes would temporarily result in the loss of some parking spaces in these towns, they were developed to strike the right balance between enabling people to access town centres, help boost the local economy and keep everyone safe at a time when COVID-19 continues to present a risk to public health.
“The response to the virus has been a fast-moving situation and we have been clear that these measures would be kept under review. Being committed to working constructively with local businesses and communities, we have welcomed the opportunity in recent days to engage further and hear more views about the proposals.
“While there continues to be support for action to be taken around East Lothian, we recognise there are concerns from retailers and residents in some locations on what the temporary changes mean for town centres. Having taken on board further feedback in recent days, we can confirm that the introduction of measures focused on town centres will be put on hold at this time. This will allow for more consideration and dialogue on the best way forward for everyone, including further discussion with the valued local businesses on which our communities depend.
“Given the fragile nature of recovery from COVID-19, there can be no room for complacency and we need to keep the situation under review.
“In the meantime, we will be moving ahead with other measures to support safe active travel and exercise and look forward to implementing these in due course.”
Measures currently planned for introduction:
- Introduction of temporary 20mph speed limits in towns
- Creation of additional cycle routes
- Installation of additional cycle racks at locations including coastal car parks
- Introducing electric bike hire in towns across East Lothian
- Re-time pedestrian crossing signals on High Street
- Investigate with ScottishPower, owners of the electric bridge, to open the bridge for non-motorised vehicles
- Widen the cycle lane on Edinburgh Road to 1.8m
- Dedicate one carriageway of the Loan, Wallyford, to shared use walking and cycling to Wallyford Primary School
Tynebank Road will be temporarily closed to through traffic
Parking on Hospital Road from West Road to the hospital entrance will be replaced with a cycle lane
- Creation of 'pop-up' cycle lanes on routes to schools
- Creation of an off-road cycle path between Prestonpans and Cockenzie to form part of a protected route to school
- Creation of a ‘pop up’ cycle lane between Levenhall and Prestonpans
- Temporary creation of an on-road cycle lane on B1361 from west of train station
- Reduction of Back Road to a one-way street, to allow for a segregated walk/cycle lane
- Temporary closure of road from Eweford to Belhaven Hospital to form part of a protected walking route to school
- Creation of 'pop-up' cycle lanes on routes to school