SEGREGATED cycleways are set to be introduced on busy routes to Edinburgh’s two main hospitals.
The move is the latest step in the city council’s programme of changes to the Capital’s road network to meet the needs of cyclists and pedestrians during the coronavirus crisis.
The temporary cycle lanes on Crewe Road South, leading to the Western General, and on and Old Dalkeith Road, the route to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary are expected to open next month. The council said they would provide safe routes for key workers and service users, especially as traffic starts to increase again as the lockdown is eased.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to confirm on Thursday whether the first cautious relaxation of the rules goes ahead, including being able to sunbathe and to meet one other household at a safe distance.
The council has a series of proposed temporary measures, including road closures, wider pavements, bus lanes and cycle paths it is looking at in order to create extra space to help people physically distance when they are walking or cycling.
There was controversy when the first set of changes was announced earlier this month, including the closure of Braid Road. But the council says the measures have gone down well with residents.
The council has also said it is having talks with businesses about how it could help cafes and restaurants operate more outside tables since they will be allowed to open for outdoor customers before they can have them inside again.
City transport convener Lesley Macinnes said the council’s programme would be implemented in sync with the Scottish Government’s four-phase plan for lifting the lockdown.
“For example, as offices and worksites begin to return, we will address arterial routes to support commuters.
“And as pubs and cafes can reopen with outdoor areas, we’ll adapt these plans to support them too.
“Measures like widened footpaths and segregated cycleways in the city centre and nine local high streets in outlying areas of Edinburgh will also encourage people to spend time there as local businesses begin to reopen.”
She said council officials were working through a list of potential projects, as well as suggestions received from the public, to prioritise resources where they were needed first.
Last week, MSPs backed a call by Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton for city streets closed to traffic during the crisis to be used by cafes and restaurants for outside tables. The amendment to emergency legislation later had to be reversed for technical legal reasons, but Constitution Secretary
Michael Russell said the Scottish Government would be “mindful of the will of parliament” in finding ways to ensure cafes, restaurants and similar places could observe social distancing by making use of outdoor spaces, including roads and pavements, provided that they did not obstruct their safe use by others.
Council leader Adam McVey said: “We are very much thinking about how we try and take action that both supports physical distancing for people getting around the city but also how we enable businesses, particularly those that have been really hard it in hospitality, to open again.”