Lib Dems push for more zebra crossings

26 Nov 2021

At yesterday's City of Edinburgh Council meeting, Morningside Councillor Neil Ross persuaded the Council to improve pedestrian access across Edinburgh cost-effectively.

The motion highlights the positive impact that paint-only zebra crossings have had in allowing safer pedestrian access on side streets while being up to 40x cheaper to install than zebra crossings with flashing lights. It's time we were ambitious for Edinburgh's pedestrians.

The motion was amended by SNP, Labour and Green Councillors which unfortunately includes a delay in rolling out more zebra crossings.

Commenting afterwards, Councillor Ross said

"I am delighted that the Council will proceed with a trial of side road zebra markings but disappointed that the SNP/Labour led Council, supported by the Greens, decided to delay the process. Pedestrians are the top of the travel hierarchy and their road safety should be given greater priority by the Council."

The full text of Councillor Ross's amended motion is below:

Motion to Council on 25 November 2021

Call for action on zebra markings for side streets


  • Notes the national call for authorisation from central government to use zebra markings for side streets. The joint statement has been signed by Living Streets, British Cycling, Guide Dogs, the Campaign for Better Transport, The Ramblers, Sustrans and Playing Out as well as motoring body The AA.
  • Recognises that, in the face of the global climate crisis and worsening obesity and physical inactivity levels, the need to enable millions more people across the nation to make local journeys on foot is not a choice but an absolute necessity.
  • Notes that Greater Manchester Council has published new evidence showing that zebra markings on side roads lead to drivers giving way 30% more than where there is no marking and is asking for permission to roll out a large-scale trial of zebra markings at side roads.
  • Notes that the Danish city of Aarhus is to trial 3D zebra style crossings.
  • Notes that new YouGov polling data published and commissioned by Living Streets has found that:

83% of adults would feel more confident crossing the road with zebra markings

29% of adults have been hit or had a near miss at a side road

65% of adults think the UK government should authorise zebra markings on side roads

76% of parents of 4-11-year-olds would feel safer about their child walking to school (or allowing them to walk independently) if there were zebra crossings on side roads

76% would also be more likely to walk to school if there were zebra crossings at side roads.

  • Notes that the proposed side road zebra markings - that do not use expensive Belisha Beacons or zigzags - are in common use across the world to give greater priority to pedestrians when crossing quieter roads. They are also in widespread use across the UK in supermarket car parks and airports and are already authorised for use on protected cycle tracks. The crossings typically cost around £1,000 compared to £40,000 for a zebra crossing with Belisha Beacons.
  • Requests that the Convener of Transport & Environment writes to the Scottish Government ministers responsible for Transport and Active Travel to

highlight the benefits to pedestrians of zebra markings for side streets;

ask for authorisation, if necessary in conjunction with the UK Government, for the Council to implement zebra markings for side streets; and

report to the Transport & Environment Committee within two cycles to provide details of the correspondence with the Minister, including the response received from the Minister and details of any progress made.

  • Requests that officers investigate the potential to set up a trial of zebra markings on side streets in Edinburgh, learning from the trials in Manchester and Aarhus, by selecting suitable locations in each of the locality areas in collaboration with local councillors with a focus towards, but not exclusive to, safer routes to school.  Officers should report their recommendations to the Transport & Environment Committee in one cycle with the aim of commencing the trial within the current Council term.

Proposed by Councillor Neil Ross

Seconded by Councillor Kevin Lang

The motion was amended by replacing the original final paragraph with new paragraphs – see below.

Recognises that discussions have already taken place with officers on this topic as the Coalition acknowledged this wider campaign and the benefits that zebra crossings of this nature could bring to Edinburgh’s residents. Councillor Watt has, for example, already requested a pilot in her ward.

Requests that officers investigate the potential to set up a trial of zebra markings on side streets in Edinburgh, learning from the trials in Manchester and Aarhus. Suitable trial locations should be identified by taking into account other planned road changes and related aspects of the City Mobility Plan, with engagement with local Ward Councillors and Community Councils. This report should be prepared with the intent of returning to the Transport & Environment Committee within two cycles, in other words by March, setting out the possibilities for positive action on this topic.

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