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Leith Walk cycle path plans ‘shambolic’ say Edinburgh campaigners

Cyclists on segregated path would have to give way to traffic emerging from side streets

New plans for Leith Walk in Edinburgh show segregated bike lanes in both directions running from the Pilrig Street Junction to the Brunswick Street junction further south. However, while some cycle campaigners have welcomed the developments, others have taken issue with junctions that would demand cyclists give way to traffic emerging from side roads.

Two separate designs have been presented for public consultation – one showing how the street would look if councillors vote to extend the tram line and another showing how it would look if the tram line isn’t extended. Both feature segregated space for cyclists.

In 2012 plans for Leith Walk were nicknamed ‘the cyclist blender’ as they would have seen cyclists having to move out of kerbed cycle lanes and into traffic to negotiate roundabouts at either end of a 200 metre stretch of road. When these were shelved, new plans promised ‘significant sections of uninterrupted cycle space’ and redesigned junctions.

However, while the new designs would see the creation of a fully segregated path which avoids communal bins and bus stops, a number of campaigners have taken issue with the junctions where riders would have to give way to traffic emerging from side streets.

On Twitter, GB Cycling Embassy branded the designs ‘shambolic’, while Kim Harding, one of the founders of the Pedal on Parliament, told the Edinburgh News:

“When it was first planned to bring the tram down Leith Walk, Spokes commissioned a group of Dutch engineers to lay out plans for how to put in proper off-road cycle paths all the way down. The council never took that on board, and have now produced this thing where it abandons you where you need it most.”

However, John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland – who have been working with the council on the designs – was supportive of the plans:

“Sustrans is fully engaged in the City of Edinburgh Council’s plans for Leith Walk. We are supporting the designs, with funding from Transport Scotland, that we feel will make Leith Walk a better place to live, shop and work. The designs that have been delivered so far give the Walk more of a High Street feel and make it feel safer and calmer, complementary to the city’s bold plans for 20mph streets and to have 15% of commuting trips to be made by bicycle by 2020.”

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