Edinburgh Tram Extension: Our Response

Cyclist on a road in Edinburgh
20 March 2018

In 2013, Sustrans Scotland entered into an agreement with City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) to provide £3.6m from Transport Scotland over three years to deliver an exemplary design for Leith Walk which would enhance the public realm and enable a greater number of journeys by foot and by bicycle. 

As a consequence Sustrans Scotland was invited to join the CEC design team and attended regular design review meetings. The Agreement expired in 2016 with £1.4m spent and work completed between the Foot of The Walk and the McDonald Road junction. 

We understood that future developments of designs for Leith Walk, north of Pilrig St to The Foot of the Walk, and from McDonald Rd south to London Rd, would continue the fully segregated cycle lanes that have been delivered from McDonald Rd to Pilrig St. However, the current tram design proposals do not reflect those set out in the Leith Programme

Our key issues with the current proposals, as presented, are:
  • Greater clarification is required on the presence of a route safety audit and details of the measures which have been included in the design to reduce the likelihood of collisions and incidents involving tram tracks.
  • The proposed designs do not prioritise people on foot and on bikes above other modes of transport, failing to adhere to the transport hierarchy.

Since the agreement expired, Sustrans Scotland have not renewed our funding arrangements for the Leith Programme. We will not commit any further funding to the project unless major changes are made to the proposal or a significant suite of complementary measures are developed.

We are keen however to work with City of Edinburgh Council, Transport for Edinburgh and the Tram delivery team to find solutions that prioritise walking, cycling and sustainable transport. As such, we have set out what we believe to be the opportunities and the risks associated with the various sections of the route in the new proposals. 

We will continue to work in partnership with CEC, with meaningful and constructive engagement to help make it easier for people to walk and cycle in Edinburgh.

For a more detailed overview of the opportunities and the risks associated with the various sections of the route in the new proposals, please read our commentary here. 

Correction to earlier statement:

An earlier version of this statement said that Sustrans felt that there was 'limited scope for community engagement to have any significant influence on the design, given the advanced stage of the project.'

Following a positive meeting with the trams team in City of Edinburgh Council we have been greatly reassured that any views expressed in the consultation on the trams will be considered. We are encouraging everyone to respond to the consultation by the 29th April.