October 2020

CCWEL – first (wee) section to open

We expect the first section of the Council’s flagship city centre west-east route to open shortly, along with an initial cycleroute through the Picardy Place island.

There is much excitement over the covid-related ‘temporary’ Spaces for People active travel projects which are zooming into place around the city at remarkable speed using cheap easily-modifiable designs on a ‘try then modify‘ basis.

However, it is easy to forget that ‘permanent’ schemes, where every jot and tittle is consulted and planned in advance, then installed with costly hard-to-change materials, are also progressing; albeit at a years-in-the-making speed! One such is CCWEL, the Council’s flagship city-centre west-east route, which has been in the consulting and planning stages for well over half a decade so far.

We are, at last, delighted to mark the opening of the first CCWEL section, expected imminently, even if it is just from Elder Street to Picardy Place!

The short CCWEL section from Elder Street to Picardy Place will soon see the light of day Photo Alex Robb

At the same time, a temporary continuation through Picardy Place island will open – the eventual layout here has to await construction of the new tram stop. These two projects are constructed by the St James Quarter developers, albeit in consultation with the Council to achieve compatibility. The final Picardy design is expected to be very much as in our 2018 article, although probably with a few tweaks.

Temporary cycleroute through Picardy Place island, to open imminently. The final more direct route cannot be constructed until the new tram stop is complete.

What permanent or temporary connections do these new routes provide?

At the time of writing, we do not yet know the final fine details such as signage, and please remember there will be changes when the tramstop is complete, but at present this looks like…

  • Good – connecting Leith Walk and London Road to York Place (at Elder Street)
  • Medium – connecting in the opposite direction, from York Place (Elder St) to Leith Walk or London Rd, but with difficulties at each end until future links are built. Also connects York Place to Calton Road & Waverley
  • Medium – Broughton Street to the island (for Leith Walk, Leith Street, Calton Road, Waverley). Immediately after turning left out of Broughton Street you enter a short segregated lane [picture, before opening] which leads to a one-way toucan crossing to the island – this however seems designed more as a pedestrian-only crossing … hopefully it will be improved in the final post-tramstop arrangement
  • Poor – Heading to Broughton Street from any direction.

There is a video tour of the new facilities here. Final details including signage not yet in place. The video shows Elder St -> Island -> Omni -> Cathedral -> Island and ends with the option of returning to Elder St or a somewhat dodgy right-turn into Broughton Street. Many thanks to Martin McDonnell facing heavy rain to take the video, especially as the York Place/Picardy junction involved very long and watery traffic light waits!

  • Roseburn to Haymarket This was intended to be the first section, but due to the Scottish Government’s inconsistent and labyrinthine rules for Traffic Regulation Orders [appendix 1 here] a shocking delay of over 2 years resulted from a small number of objections – which were eventually almost entirely dismissed by the government Reporter. Construction is now expected to begin fairly early in 2021
  • Haymarket to George Street Construction is expected shortly after the above. The Orders are now in place (??)
  • George Street Even before CCWEL was thought of, the Council planned a cycleroute in George Street – and there has been an incredible 10-year saga so far [see section 2 here], a consultants’ bonanza. The segregated route is now to be constructed under the Council’s George Street and First New Town project, but we have ongoing concerns that the cycleroute itself may be a lower standard than other CCWEL sections, even though Sustrans has allocated a considerable sum to the overall George Street project. There is little clarity as to when it will be constructed, but it could be several years away. Meanwhile, advisory cycle lanes are in place.
  • George Street to Elder Street The necessary Traffic Orders for part of this section are still underway, but we are hopeful they will be finalised in time for construction to begin at some point in 2021.
  • Elder Street to and through Picardy Opening now!!
  • Leith Walk and beyond Although officially not part of CCWEL, we expect a high quality solution in Leith Walk, with segregated lanes on both sides of the entire street, once tramline construction is complete in 2022. Until then, a temporary bidirectional route is in place on the seaward side of the street. There is less certainty about cycle provision beyond Foot of the Walk, and we have considerable concerns here, with the risk of conditions which deter cycle use, and many tramline crashes, if high quality cycleroutes are not in place.
  • CCWEL OVERALL If all goes well, with no further major hiccups, we hope the entire route will be open in 2022, albeit George Street will probably still be in its interim state of advisory cycle lanes.
  • Email your councillors about any of the points in this article which please or concern you. Find your councillors here… www.edinburgh.gov.uk/council-democracy.
  • Please write in a supportive way – councillors get far too much negativity. Start by thanking them for what you appreciate, before going on to the issues which concern you or where you can suggest improvements.
  • Project delivery methods – the contrast between the Council’s processes for temporary SfP schemes and permanent schemes is stark, with huge difference in timescales and in consultation processes. We have suggested an approach which could achieve the best of both worlds. See our article here. If you like the ideas, ask your councillors to read the article and discuss it with Council leaders.

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