Cycling ban on Promenade lifted after nearly 20 years

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CYCLING is set to be reintroduced to Portobello Promenade after a near 20-year ban.

The restriction on bikes was put in place in the early 1990s after a number of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists along the sea front.

The new Edinburgh Coastal Promenade scheme, however, will see it opened to two wheels once again.

The promenade project aims to create a continuous 17km path between Joppa and Cramond but the 1km section at Portobello posed a problem for officials because of the cycling ban.

The move has been approved by the city's planning committee but city leaders today said they would be carrying out further public consultation.

Cycling campaigners today welcomed the plans, though local community activists said the move was likely to divide opinion in Portobello.

Seasoned Portobello campaigner Diana Cairns, who is member of the local community council, said: "It is a difficult one to find a balance because the promenade is one of the few areas in Portobello which is genuinely traffic free and you don't need to look around you.

"As a cyclist I can see the appeal of dropping the ban.

"But if it does happen they will need to have some sort of management process in place, like they do at The Meadows with the separate lanes, to try and police this.

"There are people who are already ignoring the ban and a lot of the problems would be avoided if cyclists used their bells properly."

The Edinburgh Coastal Promenade project would mirror similar projects in Nice, Blackpool and Copenhagen and provide room for walkers and cyclists.

Planned to be unravelled over a 30-year period, the council believes it will become a major draw for tourists. Included in the features along the 17km path will be barbecue facilities, restaurants, additional plazas, public art and even an iconic bridge joining Leith Docks and Western Harbour.

Gary Bell, who is the spokesman for cycling campaign group Spokes – which has been lobbying for the alteration in the policy for several years – said: "This is a very welcome development.

"You have to remember that the vast majority of cyclists are not hurtling along like David Millar at 40mph. They are aware of their surroundings.

"I would say that pedestrians and the 'faster pedestrians' which are cyclists can get along, just as they do elsewhere along the sea front."

A spokeswoman for the council added: "The council supports the use of the Edinburgh Coastal Promenade route as a continuous walkway and cycleway.

"The opportunities for a shared use of the route at Portobello need to be examined.

"A consultation on this proposal will be carried out."