The City of Edinburgh Council has been awarded millions of pounds in funding for two active travel projects, one of which would see changes to Wester Hailes and the west of the City.
The West Edinburgh Active Travel Network and Meadows to George Street proposals were among five Scottish schemes named as winners of the Sustrans Scotland Community Links PLUS funding by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf at a ceremony in Glasgow earlier.
Thanks to the funding, work can now commence to further progress both projects. Reports setting out the next steps will be brought forward for consideration by the Transport and Environment Committee in the coming months.
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said:
We are absolutely delighted that not one but two City of Edinburgh Council active travel projects have been awarded this vitally important funding. As the fastest growing city in Scotland – and second fastest in the UK – it’s critical that we put people at the very heart of our transport infrastructure. Making Edinburgh as easy as possible to get around on foot, by bike and by public transport helps everyone in this city. It will greatly improve residents’ and visitors’ health and wellbeing, reduce frustrating traffic congestion and harmful pollution and send a clear signal to the world that the Capital is a people-friendly place where all road users are equally as important.
The West Edinburgh Active Travel Network proposes to transform this part of Edinburgh into a high quality Dutch-inspired cycle and pedestrian-friendly environment.
Included in plans is the creation of attractive, direct and convenient cycling and walking routes linking the major business district of South Gyle/Edinburgh Park to residential areas to the north and south. The route would connect popular locations within a cycleable distance of 1.5km.
Destinations along the route would include the Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot Watt campuses, the Gyle shopping centre and business park and existing communities including East Craigs, Broomhouse, Saughton, Sighthill and Wester Hailes.
It is hoped this major overhaul would see the west of Edinburgh transformed into an active travel hotspot, helping Edinburgh towards its vision of being home to one of the greenest, healthiest and most accessible transport systems in northern Europe by 2030.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, Gordon MacDonald, said,
This is very welcome news for Edinburgh and will undoubtedly help support local jobs and our local economy, as well as of course boosting efforts to get more people in Edinburgh involved in walking, running and cycling.
This funding announcement will play a key role in getting people active across Edinburgh, helping to reduce air pollution caused by traffic while encouraging healthy lifestyles.
And it follows the SNP Scottish Government’s announcement that the total active travel budget is to be doubled to £80 million as part of the Active Nation strategy.
Active travel is a vital part of the Scottish Government’s transport strategy – and the funding for the West Edinburgh Active Travel Network will be a great boost to people across Edinburgh as we seek to become a more active nation and society.
The Meadows to George Street project proposes to create a direct cycle link between the Old and New Towns via Forrest Road, George IV Bridge, the Mound and Hanover Street. It aims to provide major a redesign for walking and cycling in the Capital, creating safe, coherent and attractive routes through the city centre.