CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed Scottish Government funding for a revamp of Leith Walk which will see work start on a street-long cycle lane by early next year.
The £3.6 million announced by Transport Minister Keith Brown at the first Scottish Cycling Summit in Edinburgh will allow the city council to progress with its “European-style” vision for the street.
A key part of that is the planned cycle lane, which cycling groups hope will end the “battlefield conditions” they endure.
The London Road roundabout, dubbed the “cyclist blender”, is also set to be replaced with a signalled junction, and there will be improvements to pavements and other junctions, alongside new pedestrian crossings.
Edinburgh’s transport leader Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “Hopefully the plans encompassing Pilrig Street to the Foot of the Walk will be finalised in the next few weeks. More work is still needed on the plans for Pilrig Street to Picardy Place. However, now we have this funding confirmed things should move forward quickly and work should begin early next year.”
The new designs include plans to create cycle lanes on the length of the street, with “significant sections of uninterrupted cycle space including sections of dedicated on and off road cycling” and cycling largely segregated from Pilrig Street uphill towards the Omni Centre.
The Scottish Government funding has come from the £20m set aside by the Government to be spent on improving cycling facilities over the next two years.
Alex Wilson, chair of the Leith Business Association, said that the plans were “revolutionary”.
He said: “We are all working together to finalise the drafts of the enhanced plans, but their implementation hinged on this extra funding from the Scottish Government, so this really is wonderful news.
“It completes the whole project as far as we’re concerned. I know Lesley Hinds has been very much banking on this coming through so I imagine she’s a very happy lady today.”
Ian Maxwell, of cycle campaign group Spokes, added the “battlefield” street was a “nightmare for cyclists”.
He said: “To see it transformed into a street which will feel safe and work efficiently will be a great leap forward.”
Announcing the funding yesterday, Mr Brown said the “ambitious plans “ would deliver an “exemplar commuter corridor”.
“Subject to finalising designs, the Scottish Government is pleased to be able to offer support for this project which has significant potential for promoting much enhanced levels of walking and cycling.”
However, Kim Harding, of campaign group Pedal on Parliament, said they would wait to see the finalised plans before celebrating.
He said: “There seems to be a bit of a reluctance within the council to really implement major change. None of the plans that I have seen so far really come up to the mark and I’m concerned.”