How many casualties caused by motorised through-traffic is acceptable in a park?
Local residents regularly experience incidents of dangerous driving on the private Park roads, including speeding, cars driving too close to people on bikes, and failure to yield at the single zebra crossing. In a recent consultation, residents identified speeding as the top barrier to walking, wheeling and cycling in Holyrood Park.
Crashes and Casualties
Crash Map is an online tool that shows where reported injuries have taken place on roads across the UK. The tool compiles evidence from police reports to show what was involved in the collision, such as a van or heavy goods vehicle, car, cycle, motorcycle, or pedestrian, and if the injury sustained was slight, serious, or fatal.
A review of the Crash Map statistics showed over 115 road casualties in Holyrood Park since 1999, including 24 pedestrian casualties, seven of which were defined as serious, and 43 cyclist casualties, 10 of which were serious. 14 of these casualties involved children, three of which were serious.
The safety of people on bikes is of particular concern in Holyrood Park, a popular utility and recreational cycling route and destination. Across Scotland, cyclists account for 7.5% of road casualties, but account for 37% of road casualties in Holyrood Park – five times the national average. This appears to be increasing; over the last 5 years, cyclists accounted for 50% of road casualties in Holyrood Park, 15 of 30 reported casualties, nearly seven times the national average.
As Transport Scotland said in their recently released Road Safety Framework to 2030, ‘we know the perception of urban and rural roads as unsafe is a barrier’ for choosing to walk and cycle. Feeling safe is therefore key to choosing to walk, wheel and cycle in Holyrood Park.
The Crash Map statistics are only the casualties that were reported to the police when an injury was sustained; it leaves out unreported incidents such as close-passes (when drivers pass dangerously close to people on bikes), dangerous driving, or other ‘near misses’ in which injury wasn’t sustained.
However, these incidents are regularly experienced by vulnerable road users, who reported speeding as the top barrier to walking and cycling in last year’s Spaces for People consultation.
The police have also identified Holyrood Park as a key location to repeatedly run Operation Close Pass. During Operation Close Pass on 22 May 2019, the police stopped 18 motorists for close passes, 14 for speeding, and 21 commercial vehicles as part of the operation (commercial vehicles were effectively banned from the park in The Holyrood Park Regulations 1971). This would translate to over 6,500 incidents annually of drivers passing dangerously close to people on bikes.
What is the solution?
Parks are meant to be places for recreation and play, free from worrying about traffic, but allowing motorised through-traffic in the Park brings inherent risk to the safety of park users. Historic Environment Scotland should remove the risk and end motor vehicle through-traffic to open the space for people to safely walk, wheel and cycle.
Historic Environment Scotland have the authority to close or make changes to the road network to enhance safety. HES recently erected barriers along a section of the High Road and have closed Duddingston Low Road for several weeks to protect park users from rock fall. The Radical Road has also been closed since 2019 in response to the rock fall risk.
If this kind of risk management can be taken for rock fall, the same mitigation strategies should be put in place with regards to motor vehicles.