Planning expert warns Leith Walk cycling lanes a ‘cyclist blender’
A NEW bike lane planned for revamped roundabouts at the top of Leith Walk has been branded a “cyclist blender”.
Academics said riders would be forced to leave a new segregated lane and cut across traffic after a £5.5 million overhaul of the Picardy Place and London Road roundabouts.
Transport chiefs are planning to carry out the works next year, aimed at repairing much of the damage caused by the tram project. This will include repairs to cracked roads and pavements along with the installation of the new cycle lane, designed to prevent collisions with buses and cars.
Critics, however, today warned the new lane will force cyclists to battle for space with vehicles.
Cyclists from the city centre will be able to travel through York Place and towards Leith Walk in bike-only lanes. However, the lanes cut out at the roundabouts and riders will be forced to cross the main traffic to continue their journey.
Dr Caroline Brown, a lecturer in urban planning at Heriot-Watt University, said the twin roundabouts had already been dubbed the “cyclist blender” among her colleagues.
The proposal has been criticised for being “bland” and “uninspiring”, but Leith business leaders and residents are expected to welcome the improvements after several years of setbacks.
Dr Brown said: “According to these plans, in order to negotiate the roundabout you are forced to leave the segregated lane to cut across lines of traffic, which is clearly dangerous.
“You must then share lanes with buses as you head down Leith Walk. One of my colleagues described this roundabout on London Road as a ‘cyclist blender’. People will really be despondent because they thought the proposals would be so much better than this.”
However, Tracey Griffen, of community body Greener Leith, insisted businesses and residents along the thoroughfare would just be happy to have it repaired. “In regards cycling provision, it’s not going to be Copenhagen but I can see that cyclists have been considered in the planning. The main issue for the businesses and residents of Leith Walk is to get it back open without any drama,” she said. “Everybody is getting bored of being cynical about it, that is why the council has to illustrate that we can trust them on this.”
Transport convenor Lesley Hinds said the plans were still being tweaked. “The design out for consultation is only preliminary at this stage and we very much welcome as many different views as possible so that we can find the solution that best meets the competing needs and priorities of all those who live, work and shop in Leith.” she said. “The preliminary design has been drawn up by the project team as an illustration of what is achievable given the funds currently available. Obviously if money were no object, there would be scope to do much more. Nothing will be finalised until the consultation has concluded in mid-January 2013.”