A1 Bridge Steering Group Inaugural Meeting

A meeting between East Lothian Council, Transport Scotland, Sustrans and Sustaining Dunbar was held last night to discuss how best to progress a connecting path from Innerwick to Dunbar and the coast. A bridge over the A1 at the Innerwick Road end looks like the only practical way forward and, as it will be expensive, it will take some time to make it happen.

The next stage in the project will be to commission a full STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidelines – a formal assessment required by the Scottish Government for major transport projects) report which will weigh up the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits. In the meantime, East Lothian Council is working on upgrading the existing N76; the Broxburn-Whitesands section should be complete before April.

Sustaining Dunbar intends to carry out a bit more work in the near future to try to put together a funding package for the STAG appraisal which will need to be professionally written.

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Narrower roads = safer for cyclists?

So, after many complaints from local people using the road from Dunbar to Broxburn since the new white lines were painted last week, East Lothian Council has had a change of heart.

The bike logos will be removed from the space in the gutter, and the new white lines will form the edge of the carriageway. This will result in a visibly (though not actually) narrower road, which it is hoped will slow down traffic. Crudely speaking, drivers might not be looking out for cyclists when they are traveling too fast for the conditions, but they will always be vaguely aware of the potential of encountering a motor vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, and may adjust their speed accordingly.

Without the bike logos, cyclists should feel entitled to take up the correct road position where they feel comfortable and can be seen.

I have asked East Lothian Council to carry out a speed survey in due course, so that we can see if there has in fact been a measurable drop in traffic speeds, and I’d encourage local cyclists to get in touch with Cllr Michael Veitch mveitch1@eastlothian.gov.uk with any comments.

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Riding in the gutter

New white lines have appeared on the road from Dunbar to Broxburn which seem to be supposed to be forming a safe cycle lane. In some places the ‘cycle lanes’ are less than 46cm wide. Guidelines from Transport Scotland state 1.5m width as an absolute minimum, and their Cycling by Design document, section 5.1.3 says:

Lane widths narrower than 1.5m can present a hazard to cyclists and motor vehicle drivers. Only in exceptional circumstances should widths down to 1.0m be considered where it is safe to do so – for example where stationary traffic blocks the route to an advance stop line and the proposed lane is safe from obstructions such as gullies.

Sub-standard width or poorly located cycle lanes can provide a false sense of security for both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers and encourage poor lane discipline from both. In many cases, a narrow cycle lane can encourage close proximity overtaking by motor vehicles … Limited space alone is not a reason for providing sub-standard width cycle lanes. Alternative solutions should be sought at such locations.

Cycling this route this morning, I can testify that the new lanes are a hazard, forcing cyclists into the gutter, and discouraging them from taking up the primary road position. Drivers also pass far more closely and at higher speeds than previously.

I have contacted East Lothian Council to find out what they plan to do.

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Brandsmill update

Water up to 30cm deep regularly floods the underpass at Brandsmill

Water up to 30cm deep regularly floods the underpass at Brandsmill

The Brandsmill underpass is part of the East Lothian core path walking network. However, it is impassable for a large part of the year due to the culvert flooding.

Trash screens on the upstream side are supposed to prevent debris from blocking the culverts, but they are not cleared regularly so are often clogged up themselves. They have been ineffective for several years, and were fatally damaged in storms in 2013.

Transport Scotland (who are responsible for the trunk road network, and hence the structure of the underpass) have agreed to replace the screens with a improved system with safer access for cleaning.

Their contractors, BEAR Scotland, removed material from the area in January 2014, and experts have been reviewing the situation.

The damaged  trash screens at Brandsmill (the orange markings show where they should be)

The damaged trash screens at Brandsmill (the orange markings show where they should be)

In the meantime BEAR Scotland have committed to checking the area and carrying out carry out works to remove debris as and when required.

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Community Links

I understand that East Lothian Council has applied to the Sustrans Community Links fund for a contribution towards the cost of upgrading the footway from Broxburn to the Whitesands Road end to a shared-use path. It would be a big step forward to see these improvements.

Furthermore, ELC have promised on-road cycle lanes between Dunbar and Broxburn in the next few weeks.

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Bridge Design Specification

The next stage in our campaign to improve pedestrian and cycle access to Dunbar from the south will be to produce a ‘Bridge Design Specification’ for a crossing of the A1, which is likely to be a significant expense, but is necessary to pin down the full cost of the bridge. It will cover things such as what the bridge is made of, but also look at the land where it is to touch down to check if there is enough room for access ramps etc.

The next application deadline is 25 March.

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Transport Scotland expresses support

In a letter to East Lothian Council dated 13th January, Transport Scotland expresses support for the improvement of cycle and walking routes in the Dunbar area. They state they are not in a position to contribute funding but offer technical support for a new crossing of the A1.

They state that BEAR Scotland (responsible for trunk road maintenance) are looking at improving facilities for pedestrians and cyclists at the Spott Roundabout and that the trash screens at the Brandsmill underpass will be repaired shortly.

Sustaining Dunbar is seeking a meeting with Transport Scotland and East Lothian Council to discuss the Spott Roundabout proposals and to consider how to take forward a Bridge Design Specification.

In the meantime we will continue to seek funding for improvements to the path in stages:

  • Dunbar -Broxburn
  • Broxburn – Whitesands
  • Whitesands – Oxwellmains
  • Oxwellmains – Lafarge
  • Larfarge – Torness
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Search for funding for N76 improvements

Sustaining Dunbar met with Sustrans and East Lothian Council on the 28th November to try to identify funding for improvements to the N76 south from Dunbar.

ELC has written to the Scottish Government to indicate its support for a walking/cycling bridge over the A1. Sustaining Dunbar has also had a letter of support from EDF (Torness).

The Sustrans Community Links fund is ideal for the path improvements we are proposing, but will cover at most 50% of the cost. Match funding will have to be found from elsewhere.

The Commonweath Active Places Legacy fund has also been proposed, and ELC has commissioned a study (see earlier post) to see which projects might be most suitable for this.

As well as the upgrades of  the various sections of paths, we will be looking for funds to pay for a Bridge Design Report, to identify costs and potential issues with crossing the A1.



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Prioritising paths for improvement

Andrea Partridge, from P4 Projects in Fife has recently been commissioned by East Lothian Council to carry out a feasibility study on the upgrading of a number of paths in the county.

There will be a particular focus on:

  • Pencaitland Railway Path (resurfacing);
  • Longniddry to Haddington Railway path (resurfacing);
  • Prestonpans to Cockenzie by Cockenzie Power Station, for safer routes to school (identified in the Core Paths Plan);
  • Wallyford to Pinkie Path (The Drift) and the link to the station (safer routes to school);
  • New path linking car parks 1 and 2 at Longniddry Bents (part of the John Muir Way, North Sea Cycle Route);
  • Options for the Pinkie St Peter’s Path, Musselburgh.

The Feasibility Study will also seek suitable funding sources for work that is deemed to be appropriate.  This may include the Commonwealth Games Legacy Funding as a key part of the study is to increase the number of people walking and cycling.

The routes that are being considered are strategically important  and have the objective of encouraging new users to walk, cycle and ride in a safe and traffic free environment.

P4 Projects is seeking views from a range of stakeholders and would be grateful for any thoughts that you may have on the upgrading of these paths or any other improvements that could be made: call 01333 320701 or 07787 536575.

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Meeting with ELC

Sustaining Dunbar met with East Lothian Council last month to take a closer look at the options for upgrading the N76, the main cycle route South from Dunbar, and creating a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the A1. The discussions were positive, with ELC giving their backing for the project and agreeing to support it where they can.

The route has been divided into sections which may be progressed separately depending on budgets and priorities.

  • Section A: Dunbar to Broxburn – By designating the pavement as shared use, and widening it where necessary, this section will be relatively straightforward to implement
  • Section B: Broxburn to the roundabout at Oxwellmains – Again, a route can be devised by using the pavement for much of the way, but various additional works such as raising a bridge parapet will be necessary
  • Section C: Oxwellmains roundabout to Lafarge car park – Some sections need resurfacing, particularly the section through/past the Lafarge car park, and vegetation needs to be cut back
  • Section D: Lafarge to Torness Road – Arguably the section of the path in the poorest condition. This needs to be re-surfacd along the whole route.
  • Section E: The Bridge – We require a detailed Bridge Design Report for this before taking it further, which will need advice from a range of engineers, and the involvement of Transport Scotland, the government body responsible for the A1 corridor.

The next stage will be to approach the various funding bodies for their advice and put together a detailed programme of works.

Further positive news:

While investigating the alternative route through Brandsmill we noticed that the culvert screens (which are supposed to prevent the underpass from flooding so often) were damaged. We alerted Transport Scotland who is responsible for these, and they have agreed to repair them. Even although we are no longer pursuing this option as a cycle path from Dunbar to Innerwick, it is nevertheless a popular walking route and this will benefit local people.

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