Around seven or eight years after the first consultation began under the previous council administration, it is likely that the work on providing a cycle link from the west to the east of the city centre – the nattily named City Centre West to East Cycle Link (CCWEL) – may at last be completed.

This is one of the slowest pieces of active travel infrastructure introduced in Edinburgh in recent memory, but today a contractor has been appointed to build the route. When they begin the work it will take about 18 months to complete, so the new route should be open for use in 2023.

The £13 million project will connect Roseburn to Leith Walk with a safe and direct cycle route as well as improving the streets for anyone walking or wheeling there.

Roseburn might look like this with a new cycle route

Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the contractor and will now begin the site investigation.

The route is in three sections – two-way segregated cycleways from Roseburn to Haymarket, one-way segregated cycleways on each side of Melville Street, two -way cycleways connecting George Street to Picardy Place through St David Street, Queen Street and York Place.

The project fits in with other schemes in the city centre – such as the George Street and First New Town, Meadows to George Street and Edinburgh City Centre Transformation – as well as the council’s own City Mobility Plan.

Councillor Rob Munn, Finance and Resources Convener, said: “It has taken a number of years to get to this stage, so we’re delighted that we’re now on the cusp of delivering the CCWEL route. This is a milestone project for Edinburgh, providing a segregated cycleway connecting key parts of our existing network to and through the city centre, with significant improvements to the streetscape along the way.

“As our neighbours Glasgow prepare to host the COP26 summit the need to support clean, carbon neutral transport is more relevant than ever, and this scheme will provide a safe, accessible walking, cycling and wheeling link between the east and west of the city. Not only will this help us to limit our impact on the environment, but it will give people the opportunity to experience the associated benefits to health, wellbeing and our purses.”

Councillor Joan Griffiths, Finance and Resources Vice Convener, said: “We want to support people to consider alternatives to private car journeys, but to do this we need to provide safe, direct routes for walking, wheeling and cycling. CCWEL will do just that.

“The Council is working on a range of exciting, ambitious projects to transform the city which will make it easier for people to get around by foot, wheel, bike and public transport, as well as creating a much more welcoming environment to spend time in. This is the kind of change needed if we are to become a truly sustainable city for future generations.”

CCWEL will be principally funded by Sustrans with additional funding from the The Scottish Government and the council’s transport budget. To minimise disruption, the programmed resurfacing of the A8 will be carried out alongside CCWEL construction, funded separately by the council.

pro-cycling campaigners lined up on cycle route on bikes
Alison Johnstone MSP with cycling campaigners at the West End in August 2016 PHOTO © The Edinburgh Reporter
York Place