Cycleway delay sparks claims of political '˜fudge'

AMBITIOUS plans to create a £6 million cycle 'superhighway' across central Edinburgh have been pushed through by the council.

Tuesday, 30th August 2016, 7:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th August 2016, 8:59 pm
Roseburn Terrace protestsers get their point across ahead of the council meeting. Picture: Greg Macvean

But bosses have delayed any decision on whether the route will pass through a contentious 100m stretch at Roseburn Terrace – sparking accusations of a political “fudge”.

Proposals will see a 2.5-mile cycleway put in place between Leith Walk and Roseburn.

The route will pass from Leith Walk to George Street, before cutting down Melville Street, past Haymarket and along to Roseburn. But a small section through Roseburn Terrace has caused mass protests from residents, who argue the narrowing of the road and reduction in parking could kill off local shops and create a bottleneck.

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Alternative blueprints aimed at addressing these concerns – dubbed Option B – show cyclists diverted via Roseburn Place and Roseburn Street. But cycle campaigners say this is a flawed compromise.

Yesterday, councillors put off making any final decision on the section – but insisted the move wouldn’t delay the overall scheme.

Only the Greens backed pushing ahead with the original, most direct route along Roseburn Terrace.

Green transport spokesman Councillor Nigel Bagshaw branded the decision “a failure of transport policy”.

He said: “It was an opportunity for Edinburgh to up its game on active travel, to do what other European cities have been doing for decades and make bold choices which reduce pollution, reduce congestion and change the balance of our transport system.

“Local residents and traders have raised concerns about the impact of the route through Roseburn and, of course, those concerns must be listened to. Indeed, the adjusted design for the route has reflected some of the points made during consultation.

“But what did the council do? It marched – or perhaps pedalled – the city to the top of the hill and marched it down again, with a fudge to delay a final decision, no doubt until after the next council elections.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna added: “There are question marks now on when a final decision will be taken and concerns that the scheme could be bogged down in analysis paralysis.”

The council’s decision yesterday will create a “stakeholder group” to complete the cycleway plans, with a final blueprint due by Christmas. City bosses vowed construction of the route – pegged for 2017 and 2018 – would not be delayed.

Cllr Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “Given the strength of feeling out there about certain aspects of the plans, there’s clearly still work to be done before the final route design is agreed. This new stakeholder group will allow all interested parties to get round the table and thrash out the remaining issues, listening to each other’s points of view and – hopefully – arriving at a conclusion which the majority are happy with so that the final route design can be agreed.”