Changes will be made to a major new Edinburgh cycle route after defects were reported to contractors by the council.
Currently under construction as part of the Trams to Newhaven project, and most definitely not yet open, the northbound Leith Walk bike lane has gained notoriety on social media for having a winding, non-linear layout and lampposts in the middle of the path.
Posts on Twitter and Facebook have also shown parked cars and delivery vehicles blocking the route, whilst many have criticised the lack of space left for pedestrians, with some pavement sections less than two metres wide – failing to meet the council’s own ‘minimum width’ standards for city footpaths set out in their Street Design Guidance.
In recent weeks Twitter has been awash with criticism regarding the project, with some claiming the path is unsafe for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Pete Morrison wrote: “It’s not finished and I hope it can be improved but the Leith walk cycle path looks terrible, the tactile paving inconsistent, ultiity covers badly placed and the pavement too narrow.”
Allasan Seòras Buc added: “I still cannot believe this is actually being built. We really spent limited tax funds on this. Someone was PAID genuine money to create this design and then somehow, thinking people approved it. Was the project remit to create accidents and make Edinburgh look moronic?”
And Alan Ferrier described the new path as “an accident waiting to happen”.
This week the council’s Transport convener took to Twitter to give an update on the project.
In a series of tweets posted on Tuesday Cllr Lesley Macinnes said the commentary has been “premature” and stressed the new route is not yet open to cyclists.
Cllr Macinnes wrote that “no-one is happy with the current situation” along Leith Walk but said it was “far from finished”.
She added there are “clear issues in how the design has been applied” which have been flagged with contractors as construction defects.
Detailing agreed changes to the route following a discussion with the tram team, Cllr Macinnes said: “The ‘taper’ forming the current cycle path line is being changed to meet Edin Street Design Guidance, which it doesn’t do now. This should noticeably flatten out the line and hopefully remove some of the concerns about safe cycling.
“There will be a coloured surface laid (as part of the resurfacing that is needed to provide an acceptable surface) to help with visual delineation of the cycle and foot paths.
“Team are investigating what is possible around increasing the difference in surface levels between cycle and foot paths (which is surprisingly difficult in technical terms due to existing utility infrastructure lying just below the surface).
“The lighting columns provide lighting for the area during construction. They will be removed as soon as it is possible to attach the lighting to the overhead position as planned.”
She added: “Cycle path is NOT currently open. No-one should be using it and signs show that. Some commentary has been premature as the work is not finished at this point. We expect to open it in July when surrounding construction work moves to another stage.”
Cllr Macinnes said it is understood that rectifying the issues “should not come as a cost to the project but will be borne by the contractor”.
In a statement released after the tweets were posted, she added: “Over recent weeks we’ve been listening to concerns and I’ve been working with the Trams to Newhaven team to agree several amendments.
“These include changes to the cycle path line, coloured surfacing to delineate the cycle lane and investigating whether we can increase the difference in surface levels between cycle and foot paths.
“We’re now liaising with the contractor about the implementation of these improvements. The contractor is obligated to rectify any defects.”
by Donald Turvill Local Democracy Reporter
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency : funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.