Roseburn-Leith cycleway opponents float alternative route

City council official Phil Noble speaks to locals about the cycle path plan at a public meeting in Roseburn Primary. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
City council official Phil Noble speaks to locals about the cycle path plan at a public meeting in Roseburn Primary. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a £9 million “cycle superhighway” linking the east and west of the city have drawn up their own alternative vision.

Proposals currently under consideration by the council could see a new cycleway put in place between Roseburn and Leith Walk.

What they are proposing might be a useful addition to Edinburgh’s off-road network, but it goes no way to providing the direct, on-street cycling facility that will encourage more people to ride bikes and provide better facilities for them.

Ian Maxwell

But the plan has sparked bitter debate between business owners – who say it could destroy livelihoods and passing trade – and cyclists who argue these fears are not backed up by evidence.

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Now residents have released their own alternative blueprints, focused on off-road routes, in an attempt to derail those set to go before the council.

Local Peter Gregson, one of those behind the drive, said their “Roseburn Vision” proposed “an elegant means to join the Roseburn cycle path to the rest of the Roseburn-Leith cycle route”.

And he argued it was “both safer for vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians [and] also easier to implement” than the official plans, with “the additional benefit of actually reducing congestion to vehicle traffic and lowering dangerous emissions”.

The current proposals affect a half-mile stretch and would see the main road around Roseburn Terrace narrowed, with a segregated cycle path introduced along the northern side and the westbound bus lane on West Coates removed.

But opponents insist these changes would lead to increased congestion as drivers cope with fewer lanes, and argue plans to remove loading bays and reduce parking could spell financial disaster for surrounding shops.

They point to the existence of the nearby National Cycle Route 1 – along Balbirnie Place – as an alternative, and have now pinpointed potential changes to West Coates for those who want a quicker path. Under their vision, on-street parking would be removed and a cycle lane created on either side of the A8.

Ian Maxwell, of cycling campaign group Spokes, said: “What they are proposing might be a useful addition to Edinburgh’s off-road network, but it goes no way to providing the direct, on-street cycling facility that will encourage more people to ride bikes and provide better facilities for them. Edinburgh is at a crucial decision point. We have got good off-road routes, but we need main road provision. We need to be radical and bold.”

A drop-in event detailing the alternative vision will take place at the Roseburn Cafe on Roseburn Terrace tomorrow from 5pm to 9pm.

It comes as residents who support the current cycleway plans launched a community website – roseburncycleroute.org.uk – setting out the arguments in favour.

Speaking on behalf of the supporters, local Henry Whaley said: “We’ve been frustrated by the misinformation and unsubstantiated claims regarding the proposals and decided we had to move it on to an evidence-based discussion.”