CYCLING campaigners say bike-friendly measures planned for the revamped Sheriffhall roundabout must be extended to the key routes from there to Edinburgh and Dalkeith.
And they are looking to the £1.1 billion Edinburgh City Region Deal as a way to achieve the improvements.
Campaign group Spokes says it was “extremely concerned” about the original plans for a new Sheriffhall roundabout and flyover because they made conditions for cycling and walking worse not better. But it says Transport Scotland listened to pleas for a rethink and now the plans include separate paths for cyclists.
But Spokes warns the new roundabout risks being “an oasis of cycling excellence in a desert of under-provision” because the surrounding roads are “very poor” for cyclists.
And the campaigners have written to Edinburgh and Midlothian councils and the Scottish Government, urging them to improve cycling conditions on routes from Sheriffhall like the A7 and the A6106, using the City Deal.
In their letter, Michaela Jackson says: “The City Region Deal presents the opportunity to expand the Sheriffhall project from a ‘trunk road silo’ project to a genuinely integrated project including not just the roundabout but also a high quality, separate, ‘aspirational’, cycle route linking Edinburgh, Dalkeith and wider Midlothian.
“It needs also to link in with developments (some of which are still in the planning process) including cycle links between Dalkeith, Shawfair, Eskbank, the Royal Infirmary, the Bioquarter, and, with more work, Fort Kinnaird. These very clearly link areas of population with areas of work, and with distances that are cycle friendly.
“The City Deal is all about regional connectivity. Building connecting paths would deliver real and valuable active travel routes, with all the consequent benefits to public health and the local economy, and reduced climate and toxic emissions.”
Professor Chris Oliver, spokesman for Spokes, said: “The roundabout is going to be fine, it’s all the routes in and out of it we’re concerned about now. I was a trauma surgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Old Dalkeith Road is awful to ride up and down. We want to see cycle lanes everywhere.
“The two councils and the government need to work together and create a joint project, and the City Deal is the way to do it. The flyover/roundabout is being funded through the deal, and it is vital it becomes an integrated project so that the connecting cycle routes are part of the same project and are opened at the same time – not left to the individual councils build as, when and if they find the cash to do so from some other source at some unknown time in the future.”
Speaking on behalf of the City Region Deal partners, city council leader Adam McVey said: “These are important issues and all of the partners are committed to working together under the City Region Deal to ensure transport and connectivity are enhanced right across the region.
“A regional transport board has been set up to deliver the transport-related projects in the deal. This group, which is made up of the six local authorities, Transport Scotland and SESTran, will also carry out a strategic assessment of transport and infrastructure priorities for the whole region – including improvements to active travel connectivity.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The government is committed to increasing levels of cycling and walking.”