Leith Walk in top ten most dangerous streets for cyclists

Leith Walk: one of the worst routes in UK for cyclists. Picture: Jayne Wright
Leith Walk: one of the worst routes in UK for cyclists. Picture: Jayne Wright
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ONE of the Scottish capital’s main routes has been named among the ten worst in Britain for cyclists.

The “shocking” state of Leith Walk in Edinburgh was condemned by cycling developers Sustrans, who described it as a “nightmare” to cycle on.

The road was also “potentially lethal” because of the volume and speed of traffic, according to its National Cycle Network manager Martyn Brunt.

Sustrans has called for a blanket 20mph speed limit across the city, in addition to improvements to the road.

Leith Walk featured in the table of shame along with three streets in London and others in Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry Oxford and Warwickshire.

Mr Brunt’s verdict on the main route between Leith and the city centre, which remains popular with cyclists despite its state, was damning.

He said: “Its shocking condition, with potholes and rough road surfaces, makes it a nightmare to cycle on. The traffic is busy and fast between junctions, making the smallest swerve or stumble potentially lethal.”

However, Mr Brunt also acknowledged that “Edinburgh has done, and is doing, loads for cyclists”.

Cycling now accounts for nearly 7 per cent of commuting trips in the capital – three times the Scottish average. The figure is also four times greater than two decades ago and it has increased by one quarter in two years.

Sustrans Scotland director John Lauder blamed the poor state of Leith Walk on roadworks to move underground pipes and cables ahead of the planned tram line to Newhaven, which has since been shelved.

He said: “A lot more could be done – it is one of quite a number of very wide roads which lend themselves to allocating space for cycles.”

Mr Lauder also called on the council to extend the 20mph zone being introduced next week across large areas of the south of Edinburgh to the rest of the city.

Ian Maxwell, of Spokes, the Lothian Cycle Campaign, said: “Leith Walk in its current state falls well below what should be expected for one of Edinburgh’s main streets.

“The green marking on the bus lane has broken down into patches that make some sections more like an obstacle course.

“Without trams, there should be space for cycle lanes.

“There is no sign of improvements to the roundabout at the top of Leith Walk, one of the scariest junctions now that most other such roundabout have been converted to traffic lights.”

City council transport leader Gordon Mackenzie said a £3 million upgrade of Leith Walk would start later this year, including resurfacing the road and reinstating the city centre-bound cycle lane.

He said the 20mph pilot would be assessed before any plans to extend it, but said the police and Lothian Buses were not keen for a 20mph on bus and other busy routes.