£10m cycle route planned across Edinburgh's New Town
Campaigners welcome news - but drivers warned they may face more delays
Cycle campaigners in Edinburgh have welcomed reported plans for a £10 million cycle route that will cross the Scottish capital's New Town - but motorists, who have endured years of disruption due to construction of the city's tram system, have been warned they may face further delays while the works take place.
According to the Edinburgh Evening News, City of Edinburgh Council plans to work alongside Sustrans Scotland to finance and deliver the route, which will link Roseburn in the west with Leith in the east, partly via George Street where a two-way cycle route is due to open in the coming months.
Precise details of the full route are yet to be finalised, although it part of it could run along Haymarket and Princes Street, and the newspaper says that the council is inviting tenders from contractors to work on the project.
It adds that the project is expected to be completed within three years, but adds that motorists may encounter hold-ups while the works are carried out.
Councillor Jim Orr, City of Edinburgh Council's vice-convener of transport, commented: “We are very keen to see a high quality, family-friendly east-west cycle route created right through the city centre.
"This project is another key part of our commitment to making it as easy as possible to cycle in the heart of Edinburgh.”
A spokeswoman for Sustrans added: “This tender shows real ambition on the part of the council given the scale of the project and we look forward to receiving their bid for Community Links funding.”
Ian Maxwell, of the Lothian cycling campaign Spokes, described the proposals as a "key move" to help improve cycling infrastructure in the city. “It won’t be easy but they built a tram system so should be able to install such a cycle path," he said.
But Ian Grieg from the road safety charity IAM said he was worried that traffic lights giving cyclists priority might cause delays for other road users.
“My only concern would be that there is only a certain amount of time at signalled junctions and to use up time for cyclists means others lose out," he explained.
“The more time that motorised vehicles are held up results in more pollution and congestion.”
Keith Irving of Living Streets Scotland was in favour of the proposals,but maintained that space devoted to cyclists should not come at the expense of pedestrians
“We have made clear to the council our view that an increase in cycling should be accommodated through the reallocation of road space, not redetermination of footways.”
Like the city's historic Old Town, Edinburgh's Georgian New Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Charlotte Square - home, among other things, to the official residence of Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond - one of its showpieces.
A spokesman for The Charlotte Square Collection, which manages 19 properties there, told the Edinburgh Evening News: “We have always advocated that improvements to the public realm will enhance the area and providing improved amenity for pedestrians and cyclists would have a positive impact.”