Most of you will be familiar with the situation in Leith Walk, which looks like becoming a major missed opportunity by Edinburgh Council. As Greener Leith revealed last week plans for segregated cycle tracks along the length of the road have been axed in favour of a small amount of segregation around the roundabouts at the top – space which has been taken from pedestrians, rather than narrowing the road. Coming as it does after Edinburgh hosted the Go Dutch conference, where the world experts on encouraging cycling urged Scotland to have the courage to create Rolls Royce facilities for cyclists, this is particularly disappointing.
Edinburgh Council is surveying opinion on the Leith Improvement programme, and particularly its proposals for Leith Walk, Constitution Place and Picardy Place, and its online survey is open to anyone – follow the link to see the plans and fill in the survey. We would urge anyone who uses Leith Walk – or who avoids using it because it’s so unpleasant – to have a look at the proposals and respond. Before doing so, you may find it useful to read urban planning expert Dr Caroline Brown’s blog post on the consultation, as she clearly lays out some of the major flaws in this process.
At the end of the conference in Edinburgh, Marjolein de Lange from the Dutch Cycling Embassy pointed out that ‘it’s easier for politicians to be bold when there’s political momentum’. We’ve come out of an amazing year for Scottish and British cycling – on the track, on the roads, and in the streets. But as any cyclist knows, momentum needs to be maintained. The case of Leith Walk – and thousands of other streets like it – shows that, whatever politicians say, and whatever the official policy is, cycling lies more or less at the bottom of the list of priorities when it comes to Scotland’s roads, fighting it out for space with the pedestrians. We don’t think this is right, and we’ll continue to press for change locally and nationally. Pedal on Parliament – 3000 people asking in the nicest possible way for safer roads for cyclists – is a crucial part of that political momentum. And that’s why we need to get out next year and do it all again.
Together we can make Scotland a cycle-friendly nation.