May 2014

Spokes canal discussion document

[Update 9.5.14: Evening News report]
The canal and its towpath are succeeding in attracting more and more users.  How can the pressures be accommodated?…

The towpath is already busy, but in the next few years its use will grow even more…

  • The new Boroughmuir school will be adjacent to the towpath
  • The vacant brewery sites are already being redeveloped with flats, shops, etc – and much more is on the way
  • New accesses to the towpath are being opened up – recently for example by the new student flats at Gibson Terrace
  • A high-quality cycling connection from the canal to the Meadows will be built in 2015/16.   After that the Council plans a much-improved link to the canal (and to south Edinburgh) from the North Edinburgh network, probably via Telfer Subway

Over the years Spokes has sought to foster considerate path use by cyclists and walkers through our own Considerate Cycling leaflets and by working with Scottish Canals on their Canal Code.  Spokes members have leafletted passing cyclists and walkers with our leaflet.

However, whilst considerate path use is vital, this is only a partial answer to the growing pressures.   Spokes has therefore prepared a discussion document on other measures.

Download the report here [pdf 3.7MB] or from our Canals page.

Our document suggests…

  • [section 3] Some access improvements
  • [section 4] Some towpath improvements
  • [section 5] Most importantly, on-road cycling improvements parallel to the canal and on its north and south sides, enabling cyclists who wish to travel faster to use the roads in comfort, thus reducing towpath congestion and potential conflict.  These routes would have frequent links to the towpath and would be mandatory onroad lanes [i.e. motor traffic not permitted to encroach onto them] or, ideally, segregated from motor traffic.

The proposals in sections 3 and 4 would require agreement/action by one or more of Scottish Canals, adjacent developers, Sustrans and Edinburgh Council.   Those in section 5 would depend on Edinburgh Council, with possible 50/50 match-funding from Sustrans.

The discussion document has been passed to Scottish CanalsSustrans and Edinburgh Council.  We also welcome comments from all interested towpath users.  Please email spokes[AT]  You may also wish to raise points with your councillors.

The report was produced by Marion Preez of who is also a member of Spokes Planning Group and who represents Spokes on the Lowland Canals Stakeholder Group.


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