Roads through Holyrood Park are currently closed on Saturdays and Sundays, but the signs telling us about that are inadequate. As a result, there is a constant stream of vehicles going down Holyrood Park Road and up again all weekend. Frustrating for drivers as they discover the park is closed. Annoying for people walking and cycling on Holyrood Park Road, putting up with the unnecessary noise and pollution.
At the time of the last meeting of the Southside Community Council there was only one sign, on Holyrood Park Road just by the entrance to the park. Clearly too late, so we decided to write to Historic Environment Scotland, who manage the park, and ask for some signs on Dalkeith Road. Given sufficient warning of the park closure, drivers would have the chance to avoid an unnecessary diversion. So we were pleased to see that signs were put up before we got round to writing.
However, when we looked at where the signs have been placed, and the design of the signs, we were very disappointed. The lettering is too small, there is too much to read, and the signs are too close to the junction with Holyrood Park Road.
So we wrote and asked for signs which were easier to read, placed a good distance before the junction. We even suggested a design for the sign. In reply to our email, Historic Environment Scotland wrote:
Many thanks for your email concerning the signage positioned on Dalkeith Road to advise drivers of the seasonal changes to our weekend road opening and closure times in Holyrood Park.
Your comments regarding the sign locations and the sign contents are of particular interest and we will look at both these factors. Many thanks for providing an alternative wording/layout suggestion for the signs.
We readily acknowledge that effective park signage location at this complex junction is certainly not easy. The multi-lane road layout presents a challenge to provide signage that will provide clear visibility to approaching vehicles form the north or south. In this instance the signs were put out by a third party traffic management contractor and may not have been positioned exactly as we would have liked. However, we are happy to take a look at this matter and see if we can improve the sign locations.
The current content of the signs was reached after considering feedback from other Park users/user groups and does contain a fair amount of information. I take your point that there is possibly too much detail. It may interest you to know that we recently received a number of complaints from park users about other road opening/closure signage being too brief and lacking detail. As ever it's a fine balance to impart the right amount of information in the simplest format. Regrettably changing this current signage is not possible given the costs involved and the short time left until the seasonal changes to our road opening and closure times take place. We do however acknowledge your comments and will bear these in mind for subsequent road signage.
On a final point that you mention, we have regularly observed drivers continuing to use access route to the park despite signage indicating the route ahead is closed. With this experience in mind, we anticipate vehicles taking this unnecessary diversion down Holyrood Park Road and provide an opportunity for vehicles to turn safely at St Leonards roundabout when the Park roads are closed.
The HES email was sent on 16th September. Now, some time later, nothing has changed. We are very disappointed that HES do not seem to be making any improvements in response to our email.
As things are, with the existing signage, drivers cannot be expected to read it until they are just over 11 metres from the sign. (The requirement for drivers is to be able to read a number plate at 20 metres. The lettering on this sign is only just over half the height of letters on a number plate). At 20mph a car moves through 11 metres in about 1¼ seconds. That doesn't give much time to read all the information and take appropriate action. With the sign right at the junction there is no chance of drivers safely avoiding turning into Holyrood Park Road once they have realised the park is closed. The notices need to be placed much further from the junction to be any use.
What is more, there is already an electronic sign well south of this junction to alert nothbound traffic on Dalkeith Road of events in the park. This sign is seldom used. Why is it not used for this?
A local resident has contacted us to say:
"I would very strongly support the comments from the Southside Community Council about the design of the signs and consider the response on behalf of the Park Management to be grossly inadequate. There is clearly a lack of awareness in HES of the principles of effective communication.
These signs are aimed at car drivers, most of whom will be passing the signs at 20 mph (some at 30 mph, despite the 20 mph zone!), so the signs need to have as few words as possible, in lettering as large as possible. The Community Council design is a great improvement, but personally I would reduce the last two lines to "Closed 08:45 to 15:00".
There may be a need for more information on some signs for some users of the Park, but not on these signs. The weekend closures of the roads do not apply to cyclists or pedestrians. This information is for drivers who are passing at higher speeds."