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Edinburgh's 'cyclist blender' roundabout disappears in new plans for Leith Walk

Cycle campaigners and local traders give backing to scheme aimed at improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians

A proposed road layout in Edinburgh dubbed ‘the cyclist blender’ has been scrapped in favour a new draft plan that has been welcomed by cycle campaigners as more friendly to those on two wheels.

The plans, aimed at making Leith Walk friendlier for both pedestrians and cyclists, were unveiled by City of Edinburgh Council’s Leith Programme team at a public meeting at the McDonald Road Library on Friday evening.

As we reported last November, urban planning lecturer Dr Caroline Brown said that colleagues had bestowed the nickname on the junction with London Road at the lower end of Leith Walk that would have meant cyclists having to move out of kerbed cycle lanes and into traffic to negotiate roundabouts at either end of a 200 metre stretch of road.

It is anticipated that £5.5 million will come from City of Edinburgh Council and approximately £3 million from the Scottish Government.

Features of the scheme, according to City of Edinburgh Council, include:

• Clear pedestrian priority over 1.8km, including safer crossing points

• Significant sections of uninterrupted cycle space (both dedicated on and off road sections)

• Redesigned, simplified junctions

• Largely segregated cycle provision from Pilrig Street uphill for around 1km to Picardy Place

• Two-way segregated cycle provision from Annandale Street to the Omni centre

• Replacement of London Road roundabout with a signalled junction to significantly enhance conditions for both pedestrians and cyclists

• 1.75m wide cycle lane provision on the road in both directions between Foot of the Walk and Dalmeny Street (into town) Pilrig Street (out of town)

• Narrower road environment with frequent zebra crossings, with a design that supports slower vehicle speeds

• A simplified streetscape more conducive to community activity, trading and business and

• Better connectivity for sustainable forms of travel between the waterfront and the city centre.

Plans are at an early stage, and a Traffic Regulation Order would need to be secured for the scheme to move forward, but it is hoped that work can start next January.

Local cycling campaigners Spokes told The Scotsman that the redesigned scheme included a number features for which it had been lobbying.

The group’s spokesman, Ian Maxwell, commented: “At present it’s a disgrace, with a poor road surface and tricky crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We will give strong support to the council to make this happen.”

Sustrans Scotland also welcomed the new scheme, with director John Lauder saying: “Sustrans Scotland wants to see Leith Walk reach its full potential as a busy, vibrant shopping and residential street.

“Sustrans strongly backs the features of this ‘enhanced design’ for Leith Walk, including the addition of new crossing points, wider pavements and better cycle lane provision. We call on the Scottish Government to consider the council’s ‘enhanced design’ proposal and fully back its implementation.”

The redesign has also met with the approval of local traders, who have had to endure years of disruption due to works for the city’s controversial tram system – originally, that was meant to continue up Leith Walk, but the eastern terminus will now be at Picardy Place.

Keith Hales, vice chairman of the Leith Business Association, aid: "This is a massive improvement on what we thought the designs were going to be and we will be commending the designs to the membership."

Charlotte Encombe, chair of Greener Leith, said the draft plans “will give pedestrians and cyclists a vastly improved public realm and help to revitalise the economy of the area.

“We are also delighted that officers and councillors have included local people's priorities for the street and have made real changes to the design," she said.

"We look forward to collaborating on the detail of the designs as the project moves forwards."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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kie7077 | 10 years ago

What Al__S said.

Cycle paths should be next to the road and have equal priority over side roads as the main road does. The cycle path should be treated as another lane by vehicle drivers in the main road and side road.

Cars don't have to give way at every side-road, cycles shouldn't have to either.

Al__S | 10 years ago

The new proposals are still rather sh*t to be honest- lanes that give out suddenly, lanes going round the outside of bus stops (yay for bus blind spots), the off-road lanes not having priority over even tiny side roads- they just don't get it. Leith Walk is a massively wide space- plenty of space to have good quality infrastructure, not some horrible mish mash given a rubber stamp by a campaign group welcoming any scraps.

CapriciousZephyr | 10 years ago

Very good news, and can't come quickly enough. I lived close to Leith Walk a few years ago, and it was always pretty unpleasant cycling (and even walking) along there. I felt terrible for the local businesses - the road was a massive construction site for ages in preparation for trams which it was eventually decided would never materialise. I know several even had to shut up shop. After that debacle, the council owe it to Leith Walk residents and businesses to give the area a boost, so I really hope this lives up to the potential.

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