Campaigners to form human chain to highlight Leith cycle lane safety

SAFETY campaigners will link arms to form a human chain along one of the Capital's key thoroughfares in a bid to highlight their concerns over the state of its cycle lanes.

Friday, 15th December 2017, 6:00 am
Leith Walk's armadillo devices to help with separation were removed last week, Picture: ALISTAIR LINFORD

The demonstration, organised by resident group Protection Not Paint, concerns the removal of physical segregation on Leith Walk between its new cycle lanes and the rest of the road.

Protesters will gather at the corner of Pilrig Street before crossing the road to form a “human bollard” along the outer edge of the cycle lane on the opposite side of the road.

Organisers say the protest – which is due to take place tomorrow at 1pm – is designed to show council chiefs that the removal of physical segregation puts cyclists who use the lanes at risk.

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They added that without this separation the on- and off-road lanes – and often the pavement too – are blocked by illegally parked cars, forcing people to cycle out into motor traffic.

Ewen Maclean, a member of Protection Not Paint and co-organiser of the event, said he hoped the protest would help bring the issue to the forefront of people’s minds.

He said: “The Scottish Government has wanted to up the levels of active travel and we are wholeheartedly approving of that.

“But the one thing that prevents people from cycling and walking more is the danger on the roads. If we want to up the levels of active travel then the main thing we need to do is to realise vulnerable road users need to be protected.

“In Leith Walk as it is at the moment, when you have just paint there’s no protection whatsoever.”

Mr Maclean, 43, said another issue arising from not having physical segregation was that of people parking up on cycle lanes and pavements, thereby pushing cyclists further out into the road.

He added: “More needs to be done in order to encourage people to feel safe when [they] cycle around – that’s one of the greatest impediment to people getting on their bikes.”

Work on the road’s cycle lanes has come as part of the council’s “Leith Programme”, a £5.5 million improvement scheme aimed at revamping the top of Leith Walk.

The protest follows the removal of “armadillo” devices screwed into the ground which create a degree of separation between cyclists and other vehicles on the road.

But transport convener Lesley Macinnes said work was already well under way to agree upon and install new measures.

She said: “Since removing the armadillos last week we have established a working group with Sustrans to investigate alternative options, and it was unanimously agreed that ‘hard’ physical barriers should be installed to ensure the safety of cyclists.

“We are now in the process of consulting stakeholders, including Spokes and Living Streets, in order to reach a consensus on the measures, which we aim to install in January.”

Ian Maxwell, of cycling campaign group Spokes, said they were currently in discussions on the subject.