Edinburgh’s Spaces For People roads increase personal injury claims

28 February 2022 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken things up around the world – not least in terms of infrastructure, with governments trying to ensure that people stay safe in tough times. One of the measures taken by local leaders in Edinburgh was the temporary introduction of ‘Spaces For People’.

The Spaces For People programme introduced the placement of temporary infrastructure for people who wanted to walk or cycle amid social distancing restrictions in Edinburgh. Funded by the Scottish Government, the £5 million temporary infrastructure contract was handed to Sustrans, which was made responsible for managing and overseeing the programme.

The changes aimed to create space for everyone and make it easier and safer for people to move around when walking; cycling; using a wheelchair or other mobility aid; and pushing prams or buggies. The plans also hoped to support businesses as they re-opened and adapted to a new way of operating, making space on pavements for queuing at a safe distance.

Edinburgh's Spaces For People roads increase personal injury claims

For all its best intentions, however, the scheme has not been without its detractors. A council-run public consultation, which received 17,600 responses – found a majority of locals oppose the policy, apart from safety measures set up outside schools. Only 38% of respondents supported the council’s protected cycle lanes, compared to 56% who opposed them; and just 37% of people supported measures along shopping streets and 35% back leisure connections.

The council’s SNP transport convener, Lesley Macinnes, claimed the results were partially due to some “misinformation” being spread about the scheme. She added that the changes were not subject to the usual levels of consultation infrastructure projects require, because “the decision was made early on by this council that we had to move quickly” to respond to the challenges of the pandemic to public life.

Macinnes noted, “I think there is a feeling that we should have consulted more. There’s been a bit of misinformation out there about the way in which we were making those decisions and the motivations we had behind them.”

While the social-distancing requirements that were used to justify the schemes are no longer in force, however, the local authority seems to be doubling down on them. Spaces for People is being rebranded as ‘Travelling Safely’, and though some measures, are set to be scrapped, community consultation is commencing in other areas over making the measures permanent.

This will cause concern in some quarters, as statistics gathered by Colinton have revealed the programme is failing to provide a safe option for pedestrians across the city – leading to more and more people making injury claims to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Claims per kilometre

Jason Rust, a representative of Colinton, gathered statistics about personal injury claims made per kilometre. His analysis of the data shows that typically, people have made personal injury claims per every 4.2 kilometres throughout the Scottish capital.

But when looking at people who have used the Spaces For People scheme, that number rises significantly. In that case, personal injury claims are being made every 2.7 kilometres.

In effect: the new redesign has increased the personal injury rate by as much as 1.5 times. This could suggest the redesign was done in a hurry, and the changes were insufficiently tested to check if they were safe for use.

Increased number of claims

Many are holding the authorities responsible. Indeed, in the case of the new Spaces For People scheme, people are regularly showing up and filing claims about personal injuries that occurred due to redesign. 

Data gathered in early January 2022 has shown that 15 claims for personal injury had already been lodged with the City Council of Edinburgh. These claims list injuries occurred due to the improper redesign, introduced by the local government.

Have you been injured using Spaces For People? Ask a personal injury lawyer about how you can make a claim.

A controversial debate

The idea behind the introduction of the redesign was meant to help people stay safe during Covid-19. However, data gathered has shown that redesign may be missing its purpose.

However, Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said that the situation needs to be placed in a wider context. “While I have great sympathy with anyone impacted by incidents like this, it would be helpful to supply some missing context. City-wide, Edinburgh receives approximately 360 claims [per annum] for similar road related incidents. 15 claims with new installations now seem a tad less ‘controversial’.”