Cyclists’ joy at St James Quarter route plans

Ian Maxwell. Picture: Julie Bull

Ian Maxwell. Picture: Julie Bull

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Plans to make the £850 million St James Quarter a cycle-friendly hub have been praised by campaigners, who say the development will help link-up disjointed city-centre bike routes.

Developers behind the massive retail and leisure complex set to replace the St James Centre have pledged to create a cycle corridor through the complex, as well as dedicated facilities for riders.

Secure parking, showers for commuters and even a “cycle garage” are all being put forward by TIAA Henderson Real Estate following talks with charity Spokes.

The move has been hailed as a chance to link up new and proposed cycle routes on Princes Street, George Street and Leith Walk.

Ian Maxwell, chairman of Spokes, said the plans were a “unique opportunity” to create cycle links through the heart of the city.

He said: “This is a crucial part of the way the city centre will be opened up to cycling. If we can solve some of the connection problems through that site, it will be a big step forward.

“The problem in Edinburgh is that we have some very good stretches of cycling provision, but it’s making these connections that will make the difference between short stretches and a really viable network.

“We know that making workplaces cycle-friendly is important, so if you can provide those facilities in the centre of town, it would be really good progress. The fact they are taking that on board is very encouraging.”

John Lauder, director of active travel group Sustrans Scotland, called for revamped streets around the development to include segregated cycle paths.

He said: “I welcome what the developer’s saying. If the St James Quarter is permeable, all the better. It sounds very positive, and it shows that Edinburgh is beginning to facilitate cycling in a way that is hasn’t before.

“Everything the developer’s doing sounds great, but with cycling to work in the city already at seven per cent, and with a target of 15 per cent by 2020, there will need to be provision of Danish-style segregated cycle routes.”

Martin Perry, development director for TIAA Henderson Real Estate, said: “Cycling is a rapidly growing choice for commuters, and we will continue to work closely with Spokes and other stakeholders throughout the development.”