A major cycling milestone has been reached as construction of the first continental-style segregated bike path nears completion.
The stretch of roadside cycle route at Buccleuch Street in St Leonard’s is the first connection between the Capital’s disparate off-road cycle paths delivered following a record £1.5 million annual investment.
The two stretches of cycle path will eventually form part of a single route linking the Innocent Railway tunnel in Queen’s Park to the Meadows, creating a major cycling corridor for the south-east of the city.
Campaigners have given cautious support to the new paths, calling for the radical designs to be rolled out further and faster across the city. Cyclists hope that if the new paths are successful, they could replace the unloved painted cycle routes, often blocked by parked cars, delivery vans and roadworks.
Further roadside segregated cycle paths are already planned for large sections of Leith Walk, where reinstatement work to repair damage done by the aborted segment of the tram line is well under way.
Green Party transport spokesman Nigel Bagshaw said the new path would offer the first “real protection” to city cyclists used to little more than white lines and red paint to denote their share of the road.
Councillor Bagshaw said: “It’s great to see a proper, physically separated cycle lane that offers real protection in that way that mere lines of paint on the road cannot. If we are serious about protecting lives and encouraging more people to cycle then we need to expand this kind of facility across the city.”
The path is the first to be built in a the city with a physical separation between cycle route, road and pavement. The surface for cyclists, which is intended to be wide enough for bikes to pass in opposite directions, will be lower than the pavement, with a narrow kerb separating it from the road to stop cars from encroaching.
Cycling campaigner Kim Harding, one of the organisers of Pedal on Parliament, gave cautious welcome to the path, but said that segregated routes could be rolled out further using cheaper materials.
Mr Harding said: “It does look very promising. Physically segregating on-road cycle paths is something I’ve been arguing in favour of for years. I hope this is going to work, and that it will be the start of something.”
City transport convener Lesley Hinds said more roadside paths would be built, linking the city’s extensive existing off-road cycle network.
Cllr Hinds said: “We are always working on ways to encourage cycling in Edinburgh, and by creating safer, more accessible routes across the city we aim to open the activity up.”