Cyclists say Leith Walk bike route is ‘shambles’

CYCLE campaigners have slated early plans for a fully segregated route down Leith Walk, branding it a “shambles”.

Cyclists on Leith Walk are set to get a fully segregated lane. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Diagrams detailing the cycle lane emerged on plans which show how the tram line would be extended down Leith Walk.

The blueprints are the first to be published since the second half of the tram line was scrapped amid a funding crisis and contractual dispute.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Councillors are set to vote on whether to push ahead with an extension in June. Locals reacted with anger to the diagrams, saying the council was pre-empting that vote and risking new chaos in Leith just as works to repair tram work damage make progress.

And cycling campaigners have also blasted the plans, with cycle paths interrupted by junctions despite the promise of fully segregated routes.

The diagrams show how a tram stop and bus interchange would be built at McDonald Road, with tram passengers getting on and off at a stop in the middle of the carriageway.

Trams and buses would share the middle two lanes of Leith Walk in either direction, leaving just one lane each way dedicated to car traffic.

Cyclists are set to get new, fully segregated paths protected from car traffic, with an unbroken route avoiding communal bins and bus stops.

However, cycling campaigners are less than pleased with the layout of junctions, where riders will have to give way to traffic from cross streets.

Kim Harding, one of the founders of the Pedal on 
Parliament, said: “When it was first planned to bring the tram down Leith Walk, [cycling campaign] 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.”

Mr Harding said the plans should be adapted so that 
drivers on cross streets give way, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to cross safely without interruption.

In the event of an extension being approved, a new tram stop at Picardy Place is set to be built as part of the £850 million St James project.

The council was criticised in December when the Evening News revealed early stages of the £9m Leith Programme, intended to put right the years of roadworks chaos in the north of the city, had not been “tram-proofed” and would need to be dug up if an extension is approved.

City transport bosses say the diagrams have been drawn up to avoid that blunder.

Transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “While the final decision is yet to be taken as to whether the tram will be taken down to Leith, proposed designs aim to take into account the potential for the installation of tram tracks on Leith Walk.

“If the council does decide to extend the tram line, there would inevitably be some adjustments needed.”