Polwarth Roundabout Report

The Polwarth Roundabout is unsafe for pavement users and for cyclists. In the words of one resident, it is an ‘awful, risky junction’.

That is the conclusion of a year-long study by Merchiston Community Council (MCC) into road safety at and near the roundabout; and into pavement amenity in the adjoining area.

Over 70,000 vehicles negotiate the Polwarth roundabout every week. During a typical day, some 7,000 crossings are made by pavement users in the area of the roundabout, supported only by one ageing zebra crossing and two pedestrian islands. Residents have voiced their concerns over several years about the risks they face when shopping, going to work or college, or using the services of Polwarth’s ‘local centre’. They aspire to be active travellers but multiple hazards and obstacles lie in their way.

On the basis of evidence amassed through a community survey and detailed traffic and pedestrian counts, MCC has identified four main issues:

  • inadequate and risky crossings for pavement users and the subordination of pedestrians to vehicles, reflected in pavement guardrails and cramped circulation space;
  • the volume and speed of vehicles, linked to the increasing use of the Polwarth corridor and Merchiston Avenue as a short-cut for traffic, particularly HGVs;
  • inadequate provision for cyclists on approach to the roundabout (and along the length of the Polwarth corridor, from Yeaman Place southwards) and lack of bike parking facilities;
  • neglect of the footway and carriageways, posing risks to all pavement and footway users, especially to those with disabilities.

In our report, we make 12 key proposals. One of our main ideas is to reassert the primacy of the east/west route along Polwarth Gardens, which is traversed by Lothian buses 10 and 27. Specifically, the mini-roundabout at the junction of Polwarth Gardens and Polwarth Crescent should be replaced by a T-junction, with a ‘Stop’ sign and an advanced stop line (waiting space) for cyclists.

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