A MAJOR £10 million cycle path will cut a swathe across the heart of the city under radical plans seen by the Evening News.
The child-friendly bicycle corridor will link Roseburn and Leith – via George Street – making it one of the most significant cycle paths in the city.
Work on the project is likely to begin later this year, bringing disruption to the city centre.
And while the expected roll-out has been welcomed by cycling lobbyists, motoring campaigners have warned it could extend journey times for drivers.
Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, fears that would be the case if traffic lights were used to control junctions where the path and motorists meet.
He said: “My only concern would be that there is only a certain amount of time at signalled junctions and to use up time for cyclists means others lose out.
“The more time that motorised vehicles are held up results in more pollution and congestion.”
However Ian Maxwell, of cycling charity Spokes, has described the proposals as a “key move”.
He said: “It won’t be easy but they built a tram system so should be able to install such a cycle path.”
The cycleway which begins at Roseburn Path will run through picturesque Charlotte Square before joining up with the two-way George Street cycle route which opens this spring.
Cyclists will then either be sent down York Place or Princes Street to tie in with the £3.6 million Leith Walk section.
Another option open to developers includes routing the westward section though Haymarket and Shandwick Place or along Melville Street.
The entire scheme will be part of the National Cycle Network, which states that a 12-year-old child must be able to ride the entire route unaccompanied.
As a result, junction remodelling and footway removal will be necessary within the city centre sections. Keith Irving, head of Living Streets Scotland, welcomed the plans but advised that providing safe space for one group of vulnerable road users should not be at the expense of another.
He said: “We have made clear to the council our view that an increase in cycling should be accommodated through the reallocation of road space, not redetermination of footways.”
A spokesman for The Charlotte Square Collection, which manages 19 properties around the square, said: “We have always advocated that improvements to the public realm will enhance the area and providing improved amenity for pedestrians and cyclists would have a positive impact.”
Contractors are being asked to submit feasibility studies for the project which the council hopes to deliver over the next three years.
Councillor Jim Orr, city vice-convener of transport, said: “We are very keen to see a high quality, family-friendly east-west cycle route created right through the city centre. This project is another key part of our commitment to making it as easy as possible to cycle in the heart of Edinburgh.”
The city council aims to work in partnership with Sustrans Scotland to help fund and deliver the project.
A spokeswoman for Sustrans said: “This tender shows real ambition on the part of the council given the scale of the project and we look forward to receiving their bid for Community Links funding.”