Greens demand cycling ‘red line’ over Edinburgh tram extension

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Green councillors will no longer support proposals to extend Edinburgh’s tram system unless “significant improvements” are made for cyclists and pedestrians.

The SNP and Labour council coalition at City Chambers is putting together revised proposals for the extension of the tram line following a public consultation, which tallied up more than 3,000 responses. But Green councillors are concerned that worries by cycling groups are not being taken on board by the administration.

An Edinburgh Tram at York Place

An Edinburgh Tram at York Place

Green transport spokesperson, Cllr Chas Booth, has written to the council’s transport convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, indicating his party will “support the extension only if it incorporates high-quality provision for pedestrians and cyclists along the tram route”.

The minority council administration will need support of opposition parties in order for the proposals to be given approval by councillors.

Cllr Booth said: “The tram extension is a trans-generational project. It will be here for generations to come, so it’s essential the council gets it right first time.

“Greens have always said that any tram extension must be cyclist and pedestrian-friendly. We’ve now agreed to make that issue a red line for our support for the project. Unless there are significant improvements to the design for those travelling on foot and by bike, Greens will not vote for the extension.”

The council’s initial proposals for the tram extension are likely to be amended following the public consultation. Councillors have agreed in principle to the three-mile extension from York Place to Newhaven and a final decision on whether to push ahead is set to be taken in the autumn.

Cllr Macinnes said: “Things have moved on quite considerably following our first phase of public consultation and we’ve put in an enormous amount of work to address concerns raised during the process, including active travel provision. We want to get this right, but we are currently only part way through the planning and development process. Final designs will only be agreed following further consultation.”

The council will hold a series of workshops with groups, businesses and residents to explore how the designs have moved forward. Martin McDonnell from cycle campaign group Spokes, which will be invited to take part in the workshops, said: “It seems the council is using the same method as the first tram works. They are putting in a tram and then trying to work everything else around it. They are not taking the opportunity to ask about the active travel needs.”