A MAJOR roundabout at the top of Leith Walk is to be replaced with traffic lights while dedicated cycle lanes will be created under a revised £8 million revamp.
The busy London Road roundabout _ which has been dubbed a “cyclist blender” _ will be turned into a signalled junction under the new plan which has won the support of cycling groups and local traders.
It forms part of a major transformation, due to be funded by the city council and the Scottish Government, which is intended to revive Leith Walk as a “busy, vibrant shopping and residential street” – after years of tramwork disruption – while also boosting cycle routes between the waterfront and city centre.
Features of the revamp include an increased number of pedestrian crossings, redesigned and simplified junctions, and one kilometre of segregated cycle space from Pilrig Street to Picardy Place. It will also involve a facelift for pavements and road surfaces.
Plans for the thoroughfare have twice gone back to the drawing board but work could start at Leith Walk by January.
Transport leader Councillor Lesley Hinds said blueprints to remove the roundabout were at an early stage but formed part of the revised overhaul. The new designs today attracted widespread support from green bodies, local business chiefs and cycling groups who branded the present layout “a disgrace”.
The project will be bankrolled with £5.5m of city investment and around £3m from the Scottish Government.
Ian Maxwell, spokesman for cycling campaigners Spokes, said the redesign of Leith Walk had incorporated many elements for which his group had been calling.
“At present it’s a disgrace, with a poor road surface and tricky crossings for pedestrians and cyclists,” he said. “We will give strong support to the council to make this happen.”
Keith Hales, vice chairman of Leith Business Association, said the designs were a “massive improvement” on what they were expecting, while Alex Wilson of Marketing Leith said he was “comfortable” the project was now “heading in the right direction”.
Charlotte Encombe, chair of Greener Leith, said the plan would create a ”vastly improved public realm” and help “revitalise” the economy.
John Lauder, director of Sustrans Scotland – a national body overseeing walking and cycling routes – said: “Sustrans Scotland wants to see Leith Walk reach its full potential as a busy, vibrant shopping and residential street.
“Sustrans strongly backs the features of this ‘enhanced design’ for Leith Walk, including the addition of new crossing points, wider pavements and better cycle lane provision. We call on the Scottish Government to consider the council’s ‘enhanced design’ proposal and fully back its implementation.”