After seven years of planning and legal delays to the proposals, work has finally begun on the £19.4 million City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL) at Roseburn Terrace.
This is the biggest piece of infrastructure in the city for a long time. It aims to build safer infrastructure for cyclists – perhaps those who are less confident or younger. It is as Spokes the Lothian Cycle Campaign admits, not perfect, but is regarded as a major step forward.
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes was joined at Roseburn on Tuesday morning by Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, and Karen McGregor, Portfolio Director for Sustrans, to break ground on the £19.4m City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL). This has been funded by The Scottish Government via Sustrans.
Local children from Roseburn Primary School and project managers gathered to mark the momentous occasion. When complete, the scheme will connect Roseburn to Leith Walk by way of Haymarket and the West End with a safe and direct cycle route, as well as significantly enhancing streets for those walking, wheeling and spending time there. This will tie into a new George Street cycling thoroughfare delivered as part of the George Street and First New Town project. When the improvements to the CCWEL were first discussed the council said that this move to active travel would be encouraged by forming Quiet Routes using off road paths, low traffic streets and protected cycle lanes on busier roads.
Cllr Macinnes said: “I’m thrilled that we’re now delivering the CCWEL, one of the largest pieces of safe walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure the Capital has seen yet. It’s been really exciting to visit the site and see work get underway – before long, this route will benefit so many people walking, wheeling and cycling to and from the city.
“The CCWEL project is just one of a range of bold initiatives to transform the way we travel around Edinburgh. We are committed to becoming a net zero city by 2030 and a key element of this is encouraging and supporting clean and sustainable modes of transport through projects like this.”
The project, overseen by contractors Balfour Beatty, is leading the way in sustainable construction, with measures to cut carbon emissions. Site compounds will utilise ‘EcoSense’ cabins in conjunction with an ECONET power management system, which significantly reduces energy consumption and water usage. Project officers will also use e-bikes rather than cars to travel between the site compound and works areas wherever possible, and cycle training has been provided as part of this.
Construction is expected to last around 18 months, with full details of plans available on the dedicated CCWEL website. We have also published some of the plans below. In the first phase of the section between Roseburn and West Coates there will be some lane closures and changes to parking and bus stops, though traffic will be maintained in both directions.
The very first part of the CCWEL did open for a time – the shortest section of cycle path ever – from Elder Street to Picardy Place. This has become a no go area for most traffic at present due to the Trams to Newhaven works.
The plans for George Street are also part of this but work there will begin much later, and for the meantime cyclists have to use advisory cycle lanes in the centre of the road – always watching out for parked cars and doors opening towards the cycle lane. When Sustrans produced their Bike Life report in 2019 they estimated that cycling takes up to 22,000 cars off the road, so reducing congestion.
The Scottish Government in December 2020 announced their commitment to reduce the volume of kilometres by motorised vehicle by 20% by 2030, while The City of Edinburgh Council has committed to reducing traffic by 30% by the same date. Part of the government commitment led to the appointment of Patrick Harvie MSP as a Minister for Active Travel and the government published guidance on design for cycle infrastructure in September 2021.
DETAILS OF THE ROUTE
The route will pass along Roseburn Terrace, West Coates, Haymarket Terrace, Rosebery Crescent, Melville Street, Randolph Place (which may be resurfaced), St David Street and York Place.
Planned improvements include:
- new cycle routes with protected cycle tracks on the main road
- cyclist and pedestrian priority at key junctions
- placemaking improvements, with dedicated public realm projects at Roseburn, Haymarket and Randolph Place
- more cycle parking
- additional Zone 1 Permit Parking spaces
- new and improved pedestrian crossings
- improved footway surfaces
- resurfacing of key setted streets.
- street trees.
It was in 2017 that the council consulted on options for a reimagining of Melville Street which you can read about here.
The council consulted on improvements to Randolph Place – which is part of NCN route 1 – here.
As part of the Spaces for People measures The City of Edinburgh Council introduced 39km of segregated cycle infrastructure (by comparison there are 1,500km of roads in the city). Some of those measures have since been removed.
With planned investment over the next five years the council hopes that cycle infrastructure will extend by 211 km. Part of the programme will improve roads and streets around the city’s schools, helping children to get to school safely using active travel. This will be accomplished with spending of £117 million in the next five years aimed at helping people to use active travel such as walking, wheeling and cycling.