Discussions over the future of Leith Walk continue.
Last week Greener Leith – along with a number of cycling campaign groups – was invited to take an early look at some of the designs council officers have come up with to improve the safety of cyclists on Leith Walk.
Council officers don’t want us to talk about the details of the designs in public, as they are in the midst or organising a series of focus groups with various “Leith Walk stakeholders,” after which they plan to organise a further round of public consultation on the future of Leith Walk.
Suffice to say that it was very heartening to see that local traffic engineers have indeed been working hard to address the calls by Leithers for improved safety for cycists on the streets. It was also clear that a considerable amount of thought and hours have been expended already on the project. What we saw, even though it was just an early draft, was undoubtedly an improvement on the layout of the street at present.
But sadly the impression we came away with at this stage was that a two-way separated route for cyclists running the length of Leith Walk is unlikely even to make it to formal consultation stage without sustained political pressure.
Given the results of the Vision for Leith Walk consultation that we ran earlier this year – where hundreds of Leithers (most of whom certainly would not consider themselves cycling campaigners) voted for protected lanes as a priority – we think it’s important that one of the detailed design options that the council consults on should feature a two-way, seperated cycle lane running the length of Leith Walk.
It will may prove controversial in some circles as it could require removing a small number of parking spaces on the street, or narrowing the road in some places, but existing public consultation has already shown a high level of support for this type of infratructure.
One way that you can help encourage our politicians to make sure this option is included in the next round of consultation is to take part in the “Pedal On Postbox” event this Sunday on the 16th of September.
The event is the latest initiative of the national cycle campaign Pedal on Parliament – who are urging people to write a postcard to their councilllors calling on them to improve conditions for cyclists on a local street where they live.
We suggest that now might be a good time to send Councillor Jim Orr just such a postcard, and please remember to ask him specifically to back a two way, separated route for cyclists running the full length of Leith Walk.
If you can take a picture of yourself posting your postcard at a Chris Hoy golden postbox (with a bonus point for an Olympic stamp) then extra kudos to you for emphasising how important it is that the council invest in a lasting olympic legacy in Edinburgh.
Cllr Orr is lead councillor for cycling and Deputy Convenor of the Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee. It is this committee which will ultimately agree the final package of environmental improvements for Leith Walk.