New draft plans have been released by the City of Edinburgh Council for Leith Walk.
They show segregated bike lanes in both directions running from the Pilrig Street Junction to the Brunswick Street junction further south.
There are two designs presented for public consultation.
One version shows how the street could look if councillors vote to extend the tram line down Leith Walk, and one version shows how the street could look if the tram is not extended at all.
In the option showing tram lines, toward the McDonald Road end of the plans, the traffic island between the tram lines widens out, hinting at the possibility that a new tram stop may also be created there.
Broadly speaking the designs have been welcomed by those who campaigned hard for the inclusion of segregated bike lanes on Leith Walk, and were disappointed by their absense from northern half of the street.
The plans have been developed in conjunction with active travel charity Sustrans, which has been working hand-in-glove with the council on the designs, after the Scottish Government awarded £3.6m to the council for the creation of an “exemplar” active travel corridor.
Commenting on the designs as they were released today John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland added: “Sustrans is fully engaged in the City of Edinburgh Council’s plans for Leith Walk. We are supporting the designs, with funding from Transport Scotland, that we feel will make Leith Walk a better place to live, shop and work.
“The designs that have been delivered so far give the Walk more of a High Street feel and make it feel safer and calmer, complementary to the city’s bold plans for 20mph streets and to have 15% of commuting trips to be made by bicycle by 2020.”
This said, the design has also raised eyebrows from some cycle campaigners, with the Cycle Embassy of Great Britain quick to dub them “shambolic.”
Particular concerns have been raised over the way the cycle paths interact with junctions, such as Pilrig Street.
Under the current plans, cyclists travelling down Leith Walk will be expected to cross Pilrig Street and then swerve out into the street, just as buses are pulling into a bus stop.
Elsewhere it’s been noted that cyclists don’t seem to have priority over some side streets, meaning that using the segregated route could be slower than riding on the road.
Also, it would appear that the segregated lanes disappear again when they get close to the Brunswick Place end of the plan in the tram designs, which seems odd to say the least.
At one stage, it had seemed that proposals for segregated bike lanes could have been sacrificed in favour of the tram. These latest designs show that it is possible to include both segregated lanes and tram lines on the street.
Should councillors decide to finally extend the tram down Leith Walk, which they may yet do this year, then it will likely provoke further calls for the extension of the segregated bike lanes to the Foot of Leith Walk too – a street design that has considerable public support.
According to a council statement, the statutory consultation on the latest proposed designs will begin in late June and in advance of that,a drop-in session for anyone interested will be held in McDonald Road Library’s Nelson Hall on Thursday 11 June from 6pm to 8pm.
You can download the designs to see them in more detail from this page on the council website.