Look at the Innertube map, and you’ll notice that in the north there’s a missing link between two routes – the short strip where the path from the city centre/Leith ends abruptly on Lower Granton Road (the yellow line), and the start of the new segregated cycle lane along Waterfront Avenue, which links to Silverknowes esplanade and south to the city centre (the dark blue line). The strip in between had been reserved for the tramline and is mostly made up of a wide grass verge. A short section is part of Granton Harbour, along West Harbour Road, currently a mess of car parking or land waiting to be developed.
The tram plans would have involved building a parallel cycle path alongside the tracks, linking the two cycle routes, and which would have tied in to the proposed Edinburgh Promenade, planned to provide a walkway along the coast between Cramond and Portobello, and which skirts round the north edge of the former harbour.
But plans for a continuous cycle route completing the missing link have been thrown into doubt by the plans recently submitted by Forth Ports, the owners of Granton Harbour.
To take into account the very different property market that exists now, and that there is unlikely to be a tram connection in the forseeable future, their plans now are for much lower density housing within the harbour.
But their plans for cycling within the new development seem very unambitious – rather than providing proper cycle infrastructure, all they are proposing is a traditional pavement grid upon which cycling will be allowed.
The biggest impact on the cycle network is along West Harbour Road. Rather than allowing for a continuation of the existing paths, and linking up to the new, wide segregated cycle lane along the brand-new Waterfront Avenue, they are proposing nothing more than a series of narrow strips of pavement up against the road, with flats butting right on to it and which is dissected by road on eight occasions – cyclists travelling between the two sections of cycle route would, it appears, have to stop and wait to cross the road eight times, once every 92 metres.
What’s more, the narrowness of the road, and the presence of new developments of flats much of the length of that stretch of road suggests that parking will be a problem.
Very little of what is currently in Granton Harbour is to be kept, beyond those recent buildings which did manage to be built, so there are no physical obstacles to providing proper, segregated high-quality cycle lanes – the kind that is very difficult to build elsewhere on existing streets, but which cycle campaigners are calling for elsewhere, such as on Leith Walk.
Here, Edinburgh runs the risk of missing an opportunity to complete and add to the impressive off-street path network and our photo shows how a proper new cycle route here would appear on a future edition of the map, were it built.
Greener Leith, the local residents association and Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, are all objecting, as are many individuals. You can see the full application here. The deadline for objections is the 3rd May.