Shoppers are being directed into the path of cyclists speeding down a busy city centre pavement under botched plans for bikes and pedestrians to share the same space.
The new cycle path has been created on the steep pavement in an effort to accommodate trams, taxis, bikes and walkers on North St Andrew Street.
But the sign warning pedestrians to look out for cyclists has been put up the wrong way round – directing those on foot straight into the cycle path.
Cyclists and “living streets” campaigners have warned that the arrangements are a recipe for disaster – even once the sign is corrected.
They fear bikes will come hurtling down the steep hill at more than 25mph and there are not enough markings on the pavement to properly warn shoppers of the risk ahead.
A single white line and a bike sign have been painted on the pavement just as Christmas shopping crowds start to descend on the city centre.
It comes following a spate of falls at Haymarket – caused by cyclists getting their wheels railroaded in tram lines – and at a time when space in the city centre has never been at such a premium.
Cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and – soon – trams will all be jostling for space, leading to a nightmare for city planners.
Yet, despite this, critics from the cycling fraternity have been quick to seize on the “ad hoc” bad design.
Keith Irving, head of pro-pedestrian campaigners Living Streets Scotland, said the group had written to the council several months ago to complain about plans for the bike path.
He said: “We don’t think that is appropriately designed. Because it’s downhill, people on bikes will pick up considerable speed, so we certainly would like to see that reviewed.
“The guidance is clear that if you have large numbers of pedestrians or cyclists using a route then it is inappropriate to have a shared-use footway.”
The cycle path has been painted on the pavement on the west side of North St Andrew Street, near York Place, over the past week. The council said the step “reinstates” a shared-use route that includes a bike lane on the busy shopping strip opposite Multrees Walk.
But the squeezed design invariably means shoppers will stray into the bike path on a gradient where riders are flying downhill, leading to possible serious crashes and injury.
In addition, the only sign erected for those walking from St Andrew Square directs pedestrians to walk in the cycle lane.
Active cyclist and mother-of-two Sara Dorman said the bike lane should sit at a lower level to the pavement.
She said: “If they’d put it in properly when they ripped up all these streets, it wouldn’t cost very much. That’s what’s so frustrating about it as a taxpayer and a resident. We cannot have cycling infrastructure being put in at the expense of pedestrians. It’s unacceptable on so many levels. It’s being done in an ad-hoc way.”
We have revealed how Haymarket has also proved a problem spot for the council with the new tram lines in place.
Green transport spokesman Councillor Nigel Bagshaw said: “It does look like yet another example of cyclists being an afterthought in designing the tram lines, with a lane hastily painted on to a pavement.
“It may be that we’ll need to accept this as a temporary measure until the tram operation is handed over and then the engineers can look again at properly providing for cyclists in that area.”
A council spokesman said a shared-use footway existed on North St Andrew Street leading to York Place and onwards to Dublin Street before the tram works and was part of the Sustrans National Route.
He said: “This arrangement was in place prior to the tram works and has been reinstalled. The shared-use lane was included in the tram road plans which were consulted on and it has been installed on a wide area of pavement.”