Councillor Susan Murray has provided an update on the latest developments regarding Kirkintilloch's Shared Space.
What the Council is doing now
Kirkintilloch Town Centre should be a safe and welcoming place for everyone - drivers, cyclists and pedestrians - including older and disabled people and visitors. Local people report that they like the improvements to the appearance of Cowgate and this has been good for business.
Many drivers are concerned about using the Catherine Street junction. People living near the town centre have to cope with more careless parking. A person with visual impairment can only cross Cowgate alone safely in one place - using the light assisted crossing beside the canal.
Susan says “If the Council had listened to the community before the Cowgate Street Design project was built we might not be facing the prospect of more roadworks and disruption now. Whatever happens next must involve the community and I have been working hard to ensure that it does. This time the Council must listen.”
Since Susan became a Councillor it has been agreed that:
1) The monitoring and evaluation of the Cowgate Street Design Project will include the residential streets around the town centre affected by the new road layout and the accessibility of Cowgate specifically for blind and visually impaired people.
2) There will be further community consultation, run by Kirkintilloch Community Council to find out what people in Kirkintilloch, Waterside, the rest of the G66 postcode area and Twechar want to happen next in the town centre.
3) Proposals about how to put traffic lights with light controlled pedestrian crossings back at the Cowgate/Catherine Street junction will be produced and there will be a specific consultation on the options.
The Council Cannot Act Immediately
The Council simply cannot put the traffic lights back immediately. Funders of the existing project must be contacted. The work to be done must be agreed. Final costs must be approved by Council. If it is decided that the lights should be replaced, this will require a process of pre-planning and design which will take more than six months.
Having a good, independent consultation to listen to the community does not delay the process of putting the lights back but it will make sure that the right changes are made.
It Is Not A Simple Choice
It is no longer a simple choice to put the lights back, or not. The previous Council told the community that the ducting had been left in place so that it would be easy to put the traffic lights back. But, the arrangement of the junction has changed and some of the ‘old’ ducting is now in the wrong place. Putting the lights back at the Catherine Street junction could take up to 3 years from today according to a report to Council on 9 November 2017.
There are 6 options on the table for putting the lights back at the Kerr St/Catherine St junction. 4 out of the 6 options ban right turns for vehicles travelling north and south along Cowgate. This could increase the volume of traffic and increase the length of traffic queues. Pedestrians may have a long wait before they can cross safely at the lights.
The Council Needs You
If the lights are not put back, installing light assisted crossings along Cowgate would let visually impaired people move independently along Cowgate – but so far that has not been included in any proposal, nor has the option of pedestrianising Cowgate. There is also nothing to address the concerns of residents living in the town centre about the parking issues which blight the area. This is why it is important that your views are heard.
Kirkintilloch town centre should be a place where everyone enjoys spending time and business thrives. To learn more about where and when the community consultations will be, check out Facebook or email me at [email protected] and I will pass on details of a consultation near you.