City architects peddle idea for cycle way over Leith Walk

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AN EYE-CATCHING new bridge over Leith Walk is on the drawing board as a way to improve cycle links in the city.

The bridge would be similar to raised cycle ways created in other major cities around the world such as Paris, New York and Tokyo.

It would be developed on the site of a previous walkway over Leith Walk, and could even use the same sandstone supports.

The bridge would follow the path of an old railway line from Pilrig Park across Leith Walk, near the junction with Jane Street and Manderston Street. It would also create a link between the North Edinburgh Cycle Network and routes to Lochend, Leith Links and Portobello.

Edinburgh Architects Smith Scott Mullan Associates have created a design for the bridge, and have released the images in a bid to attract interest in the proposal. They are now hoping to talk with the city council and private companies to look at funding for the design.

The idea is derived from an Urban Planning Study which the practice recently carried out, and also responds to Edinburgh City Council's recent support for the Charter of Brussels, which aims at having 15 per cent of journeys carried out by bicycle by 2020.

Smith Scott Mullan director Alistair Scott said: "With Edinburgh trying to promote cycling, one of the key objectives will be to expand and join up the existing 'fast route' network of cycle paths on old railway lines.

"Other cities such as Paris and New York already have elevated cycle ways and our idea is to achieve this by creating a new lightweight bridge on the location of the old railway bridge across Leith Walk.

"It is interesting that the existing sandstone pillars are still in place and we think that this idea could also create a novel and dynamic element which would support the regeneration of Leith Walk."

Gary Bell, a spokesman for cycling lobby group Spokes, said that members would welcome the development of the bridge and added that the relative cost involved, compared to a major transport development such as the city's tram project, meant it would be great value.

"Compared to the millions being spent on the trams, this would take a very small amount of money to develop, and yet in terms of the benefits it would have a huge impact," he said.

"Something like this is encouraging people to cycle more, which is a more environmentally friendly way of travelling, and it helps to get people exercising and so improve their health.

"Crossing Leith Walk at the moment is pretty scary, and I'm sure it will settle down when the tram work is finished, but a raised cycle way would still be a huge benefit, especially if it linked the two local parks."