Campaigners gear up to protest as cycle route plans gather pace
Opponents claim scheme in Edinburgh would make congestion worse and prompt shop closures.
Cyclists and traders will stage a protest outside the city chambers in Edinburgh as a campaign against a cycle path gathers pace.
Opponents to the Roseburn to Leith project claim it will prompt shop closures, higher congestion, air pollution and threaten the safety of pedestrians.
The first section of the cycle track on the A8 at Roseburn, West Coates and Haymarket Terrace has attracted the most opposition as it will involve a traffic lane being replaced by a protected cycle path along the northern side.
Campaigners claim the air pollution will soon rival that of St John’s Road in Corstorphine, a section of the A8 to the west of Roseburn, which was recently named as Scotland’s most polluted road.
The overall route would include sections of segregated lanes on main streets and would link to the city’s off-road paths as well as Haymarket Station, Rutland Square, Lothian Road and North Bridge.
More than 2000 people have signed a petition against the plans, calling for the council to use the existing National Cycle Route 1 as an alternative.
A counter-petition supporting the proposals has also been launched by Spokes, which promotes cycling in Edinburgh. It has so far attracted 610 signatures.
The city council, which concluded a consultation on the proposals on Monday, claims the cycle route will reduce congestion and will be a helpful addition to the networks across the city.
Speakers at the protest on Wednesday will include local businessmen George Rendall and David Drummond. The campaign has also been supported by councillors Jeremy Balfour and Frank Ross.
Petitioner Pete Gregson said: “If the council has declared war on the car, the best way of reducing congestion in town is not to make it worse. They should consider the congestion charge again - they lost 12 years ago but this time I believe this time they’d get it through.”
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “These proposals aim to provide a link across the city centre, providing a safe and accessible route suitable for people who don’t feel comfortable riding a bike in busy traffic.
"One of our key priorities is to encourage people who are less confident when cycling by providing safe routes, protected from heavy traffic and linking into existing and proposed off-road routes.
"This is part of our long-term goal to get more people cycling, which in turn will help reduce congestion."