Cyclists fear Council ignoring safety concerns over Leith Street redesign
The city council has been accused of 'undermining trust' after a row erupted that safety fears of cyclists in Edinburgh were being ignored.
Cycling group Spokes was one of 18 objectors to the city council’s proposals to redesign traffic flow along Leith Street once it re-opens to traffic.
The city council’s Transport and Environment Committee agreed to “set aside” the objections and push ahead with its plans to redevelop the busy route.
A U-turn by council officers means that cyclists travelling southbound towards the city centre will be able to turn left onto Waterloo Place once the junction re-opens – but vehicles will not be permitted to do so.
The bus lane and central reservation will be removed from Leith Street, there will be yellow line restrictions and a shared space will be provided for cyclists and pedestrians.
Spokes raised concerns including its belief that motor vehicles were being given priority over pedestrians and cyclists and that the segregated cycleway will terminate at Calton Road rather than Leith Street.
Green Cllr Claire Miller, speaking as a ward councillor, said she was “wholeheartedly disappointed” by the council’s decision to ignore concerns by Spokes. She added: “They have tried very hard to engage with us and have made constructive criticism. I’m really disappointed that we are still looking at shared space.
“At the moment, what we are seeing is people are just milling across the whole thing – it’s not going to work. I’m coming here to plea that we have another look at the design.
“We should stop, pause and take another look at redesigning this street.”
“The process is undermining trust in the council. It doesn’t go down well with residents.”
Green Cllr Chas Booth put forward a motion partly calling to “accommodate concerns” by the objectors by opening dialogue between concerned groups and the council. Officers warned there could be “significant delay” to the scheme if further consultation was required.
Cllr Booth said: “Leith Street is the most polluted street in the Capital – and there’s plenty of competition for that title. Surely if any street warrants bold action to reduce the volume of traffic and therefore cut the silent killer of air pollution, it is this one?
“Prior to the current construction on Leith Street, cyclists heading south or uphill had at least some modest protection from the bus lane. Under the proposals before us, that protection is taken away and there is no segregated cycle route uphill from the junction with Calton Road.
“In other words, the proposals will make life more difficult for cyclists. We should listen to what the public say in response to our proposals. We should not ignore them. What message does this send to those who engage in the consultation process?
“At the very least, this must undermine public faith in the consultation process.”
Conservative Cllr Nick Cook accused the Greens of being “hypocritical and wrong”.
Cllr Booth’s amendment was rejected and the plans agreed.