Edinburgh to see an extra 52 miles of cycle routes as part of active travel investment programme over next five years
An extra 52 miles of protected cycle routes will be built in Edinburgh as part of a £118 million investment in active travel projects over the next five years.
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The programme also includes measures to help pedestrians, including dropped kerbs and raised crossings – where the road surface is raised to the same level as the pavement.
And less than 20 per cent of the costs will fall to the council, with other bodies funding the rest, including £80m from the Scottish Government through Sustrans.
The council said the projects, which are already in the pipeline, will help children to walk and cycle to many of the city’s schools and see significant improvements to public spaces, pavements and paths.
The Active Travel Investment Programme, approved by the city’s transport committee, also includes major schemes like the City Centre West East Link and Meadows to George Street, which will both offer key walking and cycling improvements.
Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said she was proud of the programme, which she said was not “pie in the sky” but backed by funding.
“Supporting people to walk, wheel or bike around Edinburgh is essential for urgently lowering carbon emissions, promoting healthier lifestyles and creating safer streets. Our package of significant investment will kick-start a shift change in the delivery of schemes designed to help achieve this.
“It drives forward an ambitious programme of improvements which will, for the first time, lead to a truly connected network of protected walking and cycling routes, helping people get from A to B safely, quickly and conveniently. There is an urgency to this which many people already recognise.”
But Tory group leader Iain Whyte said many of the projects had been in the pipeline for years and should have been further ahead than they were. Instead there had been rising costs and further increases in timescales.
He said: "That's not just a disappointment to me, I think it’s an absolute disgrace for this council.”
And he told Councillor Macinnes: “If this is your flagship this should be delivering. As it stands you’re going to deliver very little or nothing by the time we get to the council elections next year.”
Councillor Whyte also complained the vast majority of the schemes were cycling-based and called for more pedestrian-friendly projects.
Green councillor Claire Miller said she was excited by the programme and called it a “step change”.
But she said some people were frustrated that they had been waiting many years for promised infrastructure.
Director of place Paul Lawrence acknowledged many projects had been seriously delayed and said the biggest single cause of delay for flagship schemes was the “cumbersome” traffic regulation order process.
The 52 miles miles of cycling improvements – the equivalent of a trip from Edinburgh to Aberfeldy – planned over the next five years will add to 131 miles of existing off-road, quality signed walking and cycling paths and 22 miles Spaces for People routes, now rebranded Travelling Safely, across the city.
More than £350,000 is planned to be spent each year on dropped kerbs and raised crossings, with a further £50,000 a year on smaller-scale improvements to streets, such as the removal of non-accessible chicane gates on paths and widened off-road routes.