A £12 MILLION dedicated cycling network is set to transform travel in the Capital.
Two projects - one linking the Meadows to George Street and another from Roseburn to Edinburgh Park - have been awarded funding in a major design competition.
Half of the funding for the travel schemes will be covered by government agency Transport Scotland, with Edinburgh Council paying the rest.
The £8 million West Edinburgh Travel Network will connect the Roseburn area to the major business district of Edinburgh Park.
Destinations along the route include the Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot Watt campuses, the Gyle shopping centre and business park, new housing developments at East Craigs and Cammo, and existing communities Stenhouse, Broomhouse, Saughton, Sighthill and Wester Hailes.
This major overhaul will see one of the most car-dominated parts of Edinburgh transformed into an active travel hotspot.
The £4.3 million Meadows to George Street – Streets for People project will create a direct cycle link between The Meadows and George Street, as well as the Old and New Towns, along Hanover Street, The Mound, Bank Street, North Bank Street, George IV Bridge and Forrest Road.
Full detail of the routes are yet to be announced but one artist impression shows a dedicated cycle lane running up The Mound.
Five innovative active travel schemes from around Scotland were picked to receive funding covering half of their costs as part of the Community Links Plus competition, run by Sustrans Scotland.
This year for the first time all the shortlisted contenders will receive up to half of their costs through the initiative.
As well as the successful projects based in Edinburgh, others have received funding in Glasgow, Stirling and Inverness.
Between them they will receive grants totalling £22,540,360 from government agency Transport Scotland.
Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “Through the Community Links Plus award people will be able to enjoy new active travel routes and, whether it is for commuting or leisure, more people across Scotland will be able to enjoy the benefits of greener and healthier modes of transport.”
Daisy Narayanan, deputy director for built environment at Sustrans Scotland, said: “Funding all five final projects is a bold step towards a healthier, more sustainable and vibrant Scotland which designs places around the needs of people over vehicular access.
“These five exemplar projects will demonstrate the wide ranging benefits that well designed places bring, such as boosting footfall for local business, improving the health of local people and creating safer environments that are more pleasant to live in and move through.”
Edinburgh city councillors have welcomed the announcement.
“We are absolutely delighted that not one but two City of Edinburgh Council active travel projects have been awarded this vitally important funding,” said transport convener Lesley Macinnes.
“As the fastest growing city in Scotland - and second fastest in the UK - it’s critical that we put people at the very heart of our transport infrastructure.
“Making Edinburgh as easy as possible to get around on foot, by bike and by public transport helps everyone in this city.
“It will greatly improve residents’ and visitors’ health and well-being, reduce frustrating traffic congestion and harmful pollution and send a clear signal to the world that the capital is a people-friendly place where all road users are equally as important.”
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am pleased to be supporting the Community Links Plus active travel project, enabling more people to walk and cycle more often.
“We all have a role to play in taking action on climate change, and this is a fantastic example of how people can reduce their own carbon footprint through using greener modes of travel.”
Motorist group IAM Roadsmart said:“At IAM RoadSmart we support the development of segregated cycle and pedestrian facilities as this is the only way to deliver a truly safe system where road users can feel confident in their daily journeys no matter how they choose to complete them.
“We shall be monitoring the success of these projects with interest but in our view, re-engineering roads is likely to much more successful than simply applying blanket 20mph speed limits.
“In Holland it took many decades to transform their towns and cities into the cycle friendly environments we see today. These projects are the start of a long process of change that will require sustained investment.”