Mass protest over £9 million '˜cycle superhighway' plan

BUSINESS owners fear that a new £9 million cycle route linking the east and west of the city will destroy their livelihoods.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 20th January 2016, 8:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th January 2016, 11:02 am
Residents and businesses attended the public consultation over the cycle lane plans at Roseburn Primary School. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Residents and businesses attended the public consultation over the cycle lane plans at Roseburn Primary School. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Proposals currently being considered by the council could see a cycleway put in place between Roseburn and Leith Walk, filling a crucial gap in the Capital’s cycle network.

But shops and residents between Murrayfield and Haymarket have started a petition – which already has 1000 signatures – to oppose the plans, which could see parking spaces axed. Meanwhile, a counter-
protest is attempting to strengthen suppport for the new route.

The proposals – which affect a half-a-mile stretch – would see parts of the main road around Roseburn Terrace reduced from four lanes to two, and a segregated cycle path introduced along the northern side.

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Buses would use the same lanes as general traffic, with stops placed on a widened pavement between the cycle path and the road.

On Monday evening, around 30 angry locals launched a protest outside the council’s consultation event at Roseburn Primary School.

They argued that the scheme will lead to increased congestion as roads are narrowed to make way for the new cycle lane, with the removal of the westbound peak-hour bus lane further adding to traffic.

And they insist plans to remove loading bays and reduce parking could spell financial disaster for surrounding shops – while pointing to the existence of the nearby National Cycle Route 1, along Balbirnie Place, as an alternative.

Kadir Kavak, owner of the Roseburn Cafe, said his takings would plummet by up to 65 per cent if the plans went ahead, causing him to lose his business “within a year”.

And David Drummond, owner of the nearby David Drummond Sewing Machines, said: “People need to be able to park nearby. We personally could not survive. We’re not crying wolf here.”

But the controversial proposals – which are currently open to consultation – have also attracted strong support from cyclists and campaign groups.

A petition set up by local Peter Gregson opposing the plans has racked up more than 1000 signatures, while a counter-petition from residents and cyclists backing the scheme has attracted hundreds of supporters in the last few weeks.

Ian Maxwell, of Lothian cycle campaigners Spokes, said evidence from other areas showed that a reduction in parking to make way for cycle lanes “doesn’t mean business disappears”.

Jim McFarlane, general manager of Lothian Buses, said it would be “premature to speculate” on the impact of the scheme on services.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “I’m somewhat surprised at the protest against a cycle route through Roseburn when we are very much still in the consultation period for proposals and are open to any comments the public would like to make.

“These proposals aim to provide a link straight across the city centre, providing a safe and accessible route suitable for cyclists of all abilities.

“One of our key priorities is to encourage people who are less confident when cycling by providing a segregated, off-road cycle lanes direct from the east to the west of the city. In designing the cycleway we have maintained parking and loading bays near businesses, as well as carrying out traffic modelling to ensure pedestrian safety and minimal congestion.”