LOTHIAN Buses has raised serious concerns over plans for a new £9 million cycle path linking the east and west of the Capital.
Transport bosses said the Roseburn to Leith Walk cycleway would “inevitably lead to greater congestion” – a result that would be “undesirable for all road users”.
We believe that the proposals will inevitably lead to greater congestion and that this is undesirable for all road users – pedestrians, cyclists, general traffic, commercial traffic, taxis, local buses, long distance buses and trams.John White
And they said their “main concern regarding these proposals is overall journey time, and one factor that may cause these to increase is the loss of bus lanes”.
The company’s fears, revealed in an email to a local resident that was passed on to the News, come after an 11-week consultation on the new route closed at the start of this month.
Lothian Buses have declined to go into further detail regarding the email’s contents. Sarah Boyd, head of operations, said: “As previously stated we are engaged with Edinburgh Council’s consultation process and have submitted our detailed response to the proposals accordingly. We await the next stage of the process.”
But in an email sent towards the end of last week, John White, operations infrastructure manager, wrote: “Clearly the cycleway has the potential to have significant impact on bus operations where its route is along a bus route.
“We believe that the proposals will inevitably lead to greater congestion and that this is undesirable for all road users – pedestrians, cyclists, general traffic, commercial traffic, taxis, local buses, long distance buses and trams.”
Controversy over the planned cycleway is focused on a half-mile stretch between Roseburn and Haymarket, where parts of the main road would be reduced from four lanes to two, with a segregated cycle path introduced along the northern side.
The westbound bus lane along West Coates would also be removed, with buses forced to use the same lanes as general traffic. Bus stops, meanwhile, would be placed on a widened pavement between the cycle path and the road.
Businesses argue the resulting reduction in parking and loading bays would be disastrous for local shops, and a petition set up by local Peter Gregson to oppose the plans has racked up almost 2600 signatures.
But cycling and sustainable transport groups have thrown their weight behind the scheme, with a rival petition which supports the route gaining 817 signatures.
Mr Gregson said concerns raised by Lothian Buses were a clear sign the proposed cycle path would be a “disaster”.
However, a council spokeswoman said the project, which has yet to go before councillors in a finalised form, would boost cycling and “provide significant improvements for pedestrians”.
She said: “Clearly the new proposals do require some space, but the design seeks to minimise impacts on bus operations, congestion, loading and parking.
“Now that the consultation is complete, we plan to carefully consider all responses in moving to a final design.
“In doing so we will be liaising closely with key stakeholders, including Lothian Buses, to ensure the layout meets the needs of all road users and the local community as far as possible.”