Transport charity Sustrans said no airport would make it so difficult for people to get in and out.
And it called for an access ramp to be reopened for pedestrians and cyclists instead of forcing them to share a narrow footpath.
Sustrans told the Scottish Parliament’s infrastructure committee that access for bicycles to the station had effectively been halted by the barriers installed at the top of the entrance ramp from Waverley Bridge, leaving cyclists to walk their bikes into the station among pedestrians, all squeezing along narrow pavements.
The charity’s national director, John Lauder, said it would be a simple job to put in retractable bollards or a different type of barrier to keep out unauthorised vehicles but still allow cyclists to use the ramp.
He said such a move would avoid “clattering people’s shins with your pedals”.
Asked about efforts to discuss the access problems with Network Rail, Mr Lauder said: “I’m worn out. We’ve all tried over and over again and we are just nowhere.”
He said: “You would never expect an airport to make it that difficult to get in and out. I’m surprised it’s that difficult to get in and out of a really busy railway station. It must be clear to management that it is a poor visitor experience.
“It’s public money and I would have thought it could be used in a better, more welcoming way for people who are paying to use the train system.”
Tony Kenmuir of the Scottish Taxi Federation was asked by committee convener Jim Eadie, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern, what consultation there had been before the ban on taxis using the station was introduced.
“None whatsoever,” he said.
The committee has already heard there was no consultation with the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland or Transform Scotland over the vehicle ban.
Mr Kenmuir said: “The reason we were given for not allowing vehicles underground was security. We’re conscious that the space occupied by taxis was very quickly converted to retail space.”
But he said there was an upside to taxis being banned from the station, because they were no longer charged £1600 a year for the privilege of taking passengers to and from the station.
“It’s a big issue for us when transport hubs take it upon themselves to charge you for dropping off and picking up the general public,” he said.