Edinburgh residents ridicule Leith Walk bike lane as council is accused of major blunder

Residents have complained that navigating Leith Walk is a growing “nightmare” after the creation of a zig-zag bike lane.

The cycle route repeatedly bends sharply as it weaves its way along Leith Walk changing direction to wind its way around what appear to be parking bays and other obstacles. Despite all the bends, there are still lampposts sitting in the bike lane.

Tram works, which began on the street in summer 2020, have resulted in significant and prolonged disruption for residents and traders in and around Leith Walk.

One visitor described the result of the two years of work as “idiotic” while one resident added: “I've lived in Leith on two separate occasions in the last few years, and commuting up Leith Walk into town was a nightmare with all of the work that was going on. To think this is the end product is an absolute joke, what are @EdinburghCC playing at? Who got paid for *this*.”

Cyclist Brian Hunter, 52, of Leith, said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. You have got to wonder who on earth designed it? From what I have read, it breaks all the design advice on how to build a bike lane. And to think that the people in charge of all this are getting paid nearly £200,000 a year.”

David Hunter, the Convener of Living Streets Edinburgh, also criticised the planning of the street and accused Edinburgh Council of failing to prioritise pedestrians. He said: "Leith Walk is not only one of the busiest pedestrian routes in the city, it's also an important destination in its own right for thousands of people who live locally. So it is incredibly disappointing to see some of the pavements along the tram route are less than 2 metres wide: failing to meet even the Council's own "absolute minimum" width standards.

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"Apart from anything else, this will impact cyclists as inevitably pedestrians will continually walk in the cycle way as there's barely room for two people to pass on the pavement.”

The new cycle lane on Leith Walk has been mocked by Edinburgh locals on social media.

He added: ”It is only fair to say that some parts of the tram route - like the new London Road junction and parts of Constitution Street - will be hugely improved for people on foot. But what should have been an opportunity to introduce a real quality walking environment has been compromised by failing to put pedestrians first."

Leith Links Community councillor, and the Scottish Conservative candidate for Leith, Teresa Perchard, said: "The council has only had 17 years to get this right and what they have produced is an utter dog's breakfast which pleases no-one and actually makes Leith Walk more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists alike. It's a serious accident waiting to happen.

"Both the transport convenor and the Spokes lobbyists wanted these changes and this is the perfect illustration of what happens when bias, arrogance and self-interest drive public projects.

"If you'd asked the transport department to come up with the worst possible scheme for Leith Walk, they couldn't have done a better job and once again the tram project has made Edinburgh a national laughing stock.

The road works and assorted paraphernalia create a barrier to crossing Leith Walk

SNP Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, who represents the Leith Walk Ward, said: “As a bus user and someone with a mobility disability I am only too aware of some of the challenges of navigating Leith Walk during this major infrastructure project.

"However, the wealth of fantastic new businesses springing up along the Walk - despite the challenges of Brexit, of the tramworks, and the pandemic - are testimony I believe, not only to the vibrancy of Leith Walk but to people’s faith in the area," she added.

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