Leith Walk - revised plans

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Leith Walk - revised plans

Leith Walk has been a bone of contention in Edinburgh for about a year now, and after much pressure, the plans have been revised again (subject to match funding from Sustrans).

The plans are here http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/file/10651/draft_enhanced_design_for_the_leith_programme - from first glance I'd say they were a bit of a hodge podge with a few decentish bits and then a nice classic 'door zone' lane thrown in to keep cyclists on their toes. However the 'cyclist blender' roundabout has at least been abandoned


PaulJames's picture

There's some crazy bi-directional track and dual-networking going on there. They need to sort this out or it won't get used/be safe and it'll be a big waste of money :(


Maybe one for the bloggers rather than the Embassy officially - but maybe something from the Embassy would be helpful too. They've been dragged inch by screaming inch to this point already...

AKA TownMouse

As Easy As Ridi...

I've had a brief look. Not very promising. At all.

I can't really fathom how, on a street that seems, at least from Streetview, to be extraordinary wide (6+ vehicles wide, including parking) that a bus lane in one direction, and a cycle lane right next to parked cars in the other, is the best they can do. 

The two-way cycle track with the cycle lane running alongside it on the other side of the road, seems particularly confused. In places, parking is being maintained on both sides of the street; you would think at least some of this parking could be sacrificed to create continuous space for cycling.

I'd comment more, but I'm not familiar with the street, or the local context! Certainly what's on offer does not seem worth bothering with; it's probably not going to get anyone cycling who doesn't already do so.

As Easy As Ridi...

And I see that the Alternative Department for Transport has made these points in more forceful fashion! Painted lanes right on the outside of parked cars aren't going to persuade anyone onto a bike. 


Its not joined up in a coherent way, not safe for children.

I'm  thinking of giving Leith Walk the "Paul James" treatment;


The pdf is pretty unweildy, I can't import it into inkscape which makes it difficult to overlay a better design. It would be nice to meet with the designers at on 23/7/2013 2-8pm at McDonald Road Library and show how to do it properly.


would acheive a lot more than just criticising it, especially if it's coming from a local perspective

AKA TownMouse


I've converted the pdf into managable pieces. I'm just getting a feel for where to put the bike path since I've not done it before, http://i.imgur.com/dyhfL2x.jpg. Still lots to do...

I wonder if Leith kept the roundabout to london road but it's redesigned as http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/a-modern-amsterdam-roundabout/


There is certailly the space for a modern Dutch style roundabout and it would be cheaper that a signalised junction. The real concern of the planner is would it slow the buses down, that and they don't know how to model the flows...


I thought I'd show what I have so far so people can share some thoughts. The junctions are just standard dutch ones, nothing special.  Cars give way at all side roads (with ramps) apart from traffic light controlled junctions.

I've started putting in possible parking places. I've not allocated lanes for roads yet, but beyond London road, I forsee just 4 lanes for cars, parking bays and bus stops; North Bridge - Newington is like that.

Picardy Place - Haddington Place:


Haddington Place - Iona Street.



I've got something that I'm mostly satisfied with.  Its going to be featured on http://greenerleith.org.uk

I'd love to hear from the embassy members about this before its posted.

I've color coded various areas:
Yellow - pavement or raised surface,
Dark Red - cycle path,
Grey Blue - parking (for cars or bikes depending on demand.)
Orange  - bus stop.

Pedestrian and cycle crossings are still to be refined. I've made an error at the juction to Constitution Street. I intend to fix that. 


Joe Costello

Wow, great stuff! Really top-notch, shows how it should be done. 

The only change I'd make is to take the footpaths across the minor junctions too.

Next step: how to publicise this further?

Also, do you have a larger version you could upload somewhere?


is that there are some rather 'sweeping' turns (for the cars) into Albert and Iona street. Given that you've brought the cycle tracks closer to the turn, you'd probably need to tighten those bends for the cars, to force them to slow down. Alternatively you'd need to bring the track right up to the road (to make the bikes more visible at that bit) or else curve them away as the original plans have done, to give cars time to react. 

As Joe suggests, continuing the footpaths across the side streets gives visual continuity (and would also create a humped crossing - further slowing cars) and reinforces the fact that cars are guests at that point.

AKA TownMouse

As Easy As Ridi...

Can only echo the comments of Joe and Sally. Fantastic stuff, well done. Deserves much greater exposure!


Thanks for the feedback everyone. Hopefully this will get a good viewing at http://greenerleith.org.uk/blog/guest-post-an-alternative-design-for-leith-walk-2905

Color code:
Yellow - pavement or raised surface.
Dark Red - cycle path,
Grey Blue - parking (for cars or bikes depending on demand.)
Orange  - bus stop 

Light green - Raised side street entrance, cars are guests and have to ramp up and down the raised area. Like many I've ridden past: http://i.imgur.com/s3r8MLQ.jpghttp://i.imgur.com/ScvRWrM.jpghttp://i.imgur.com/ZW9phPd.jpg or http://i.imgur.com/NKVHHiz.jpg.

Deep green - Pedestrian crossing, based on intersections such as http://i.imgur.com/25dNhls.jpg



Picardy Place - Haddington Place http://i.imgur.com/U01vnaa.jpg

Haddington Place - Dalmeny Street http://i.imgur.com/9RohG1P.jpg

Dalmeny Street - Foot of Leith  http://i.imgur.com/AbtCrQb.jpg

All of Leith Walk (lower quality)  http://i.imgur.com/U4Jxho2.jpg


I should highlight; all kerbs to the bike path should be low or sloped.


Very nice! Sorry for not reviewing these sooner.

Something jumped out at the London Road junction: the staggared cross of the eastbound path on London Road with the bidirectional path on Leith Walk. Why not move the London Road path further back from the carriageway to align it with the crossing? This would have the advantage of making it set back from London Road at the point where motorists waiting to exit from the Elm Row service street might otherwise block the path.

The "give way" markings at the (presumably signal-controlled?) junctions look wrong to me. They would mean folk having to stop to give way while they're still on the carriageway, and theoretically could mean queuing bicycles blocking the junction when the traffic signals change. The give way markings for the cycle tracks in those scenarios should be such that the junction is effectively a big bicycle roundabout: folk give way to the right -- or, to put it another way, traffic already in the junction has priority over traffic entering it.


Good point about the Elm Row street. I've modified the drawing:


Regarding give way signs. I see your worry about blocking the road with big queues. My thinking was that there is some protection if you do have to wait, though a big queue would be a problem. In practice, the traffic light signals should give enough time for bikes to clear.

What I've seen in Amsterdam is a mix of either priority, give way or no markings at all. I concluded that its a matter of giving way from minor to major bike paths. 




Which means that I've been inconsistant on Annadale street, MacDonald Road, Pilrig Street, and Constitution Street. Can anyone help with the CROW manual on this aspect?


The design is now on http://greenerleith.org.uk/blog/guest-post-an-alternative-design-for-leith-walk-2905. Ironically I found more space for parking bays than the enhanced preposal, though I'm not privy to the  restrictions on street furnature. 

I've done a slight tweak to the top of leith walk where concerning pedestrain crossings. http://i.imgur.com/9Kw6akn.jpg



Just a thought that occurred to me on the bike just now - is it worth sending it to Sustrans as well? After all, they will be the ones to fund it, and it might be worth giving them a nudge to suggest that they raise their ambition a little bit...

AKA TownMouse


I understand that they have a Sustrans member on the Leith Walk design team who is really pushing for proper bike paths. That's great news but I don't know how much they are up against opposing interests and funding.


good to hear!

AKA TownMouse


Just a reminder that there will be a drop in event for anyone wishing to see and comment on the (council's) plans on the 23rd July 


AKA TownMouse


Very minor changes from the 'enhanced' version. 

One of the issues for me is they are putting madatory cycle lanes outside the parking bays, 0.5 m buffer for dooring, and bus stops for some of the south bound route. Instead of a cycle path behind the parking bays and bus stops. 

Discussing with one of the design team, there were two main concerns with putting the bike path behind parked cars and bus stops: Concern about bike-pedestrian conflict at busy floating bus stops, and concern about cars turning into side streets; the car would have to stop for bikes and leave the rear end of the car vulnerable for cars behind to run into. 

Does anyone know of any real world examples of busy floating bus stops and how pedestrians and bikes interact? 

I'm not sure how to argue about side street entrances. Is it such an issue for cars to stop while waiting for another car to turn off a street? I see this happening all the time in Glasgow.




Floating bus stops are extremely common in Copenhagen and the Netherlands. There are some planned for the UK (and a few in more outlying areas) but not sure if there are any actual live town centre examples here. Obviously, the UK's different laws of physics means the continental examples wouldn't be valid. 

Manchester's Oxford Road proposals include floating bus stops, on one of the busiest bus streets in the UK. 

It seems daft to me if there's room for a buffer outside the door zone, why you wouldn't just put the bike lane on the other side of the cars. 

AKA TownMouse

David Hembrow

I've several examples of Dutch bus-stops on my blog: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/search/label/bus

Also see this for an example of how a street in Assen was improved for cycling. The new design has much better treatment for on-road parking than the old and the side-road crossing design 20 seconds into the video is a very good example of how to do it. There's a car length between the cycle-path and the road so no problem for cars pulling in or out. However, other junctions on that road simply require that the car blocks the road. This doesn't cause a problem at all:



I agree that where cars giving way to bikes should just block the road. I find it strange that the car blocking the road is going to cause more problems than the potential conflicts of crossing a mandatory cycle lane.

Regarding busy bus stops, during the Edinburgh rush hour we can have 20 or more people waiting and getting off at bus stops. So that would be different to the examples that are shown on aviewfromthecylepath which are quieter at least during filming. When pedestrians outnumber bikes at a particular point, I've had that in Amsterdam, my view is that bikes can just slow down and negotiate. 

Would it be reasonable to have speed checks on the bike path like a raised table,  sharper kinks, or narrow the bike path around the floating bus stop? And with mini zebra crossing?

By my measurements there is about 6.5 metres of space to play with. you could have 2m  pavement, 2.5m bike path, and 2m bus stop area. The frustrating thing is furthur down the road they do have more floating bus stops of approimately the same size.


There's something up with the fourm software. I've denoted "\\" for parapgraphs if it helps


The editing software doesn't always work that well! I ended up highlighting the whole think & making sure the paragraph format was selected as 'normal'. That seemed to do it.

AKA TownMouse


Like Sally said, Copehagen has plenty of floating bus stops, and this latest video touches on this. http://www.copenhagenize.com/2013/08/episode-04-safety-details-top-10-design.html 


AKA TownMouse


Would it be appropriate to email this link


to the Leith Walk design team? 




whether they will take note or not is another matter!

AKA TownMouse


At least we can say they had the oppertunity to take this on board. 

For the record, I've made an update on the Leith Walk plans, more 2 way cycle path and the basic road put in. 



Might be another way to get the message across as well http://streetmix.net/

AKA TownMouse


Would it be worth while to persue the designers about what are the legal obstacles to the street redesign I made? I ask now because of the comments in Counciller Andrew Burns blog post. http://andrewburns.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/next-phase-of-leith-programme.html

I think it would be useful to separate what is prevented by regulations and what is prevented by other reasons.



City Cycling Edinburgh have some discussions here (scroll to near the bottom) http://citycyclingedinburgh.info/bbpress/topic.php?id=11196&page=8

I've made one version of the redesign with 2.5 m wide bicycle paths where the bus lane along this section is retained, I'll do one without a bus lane later. 

Original,   Redesign,    Tram compatible (same but with tram lines visible)

I've tried two different styles of junctions; uncrossed travel lines, and simultaneous green.

The junction at Iona st (bottom right) seems complicated to fit in a consistent counterflow to the 1 way system.  I tried 3 different approaches; simple, two way across side road, two way merge path, not sure what is best.

And an honest comparison of pavement space.

Any thoughts on the design is very welcome.


There's a consultation this thursday on the lastest section of leith walk.

Here's a chance for you to comment on my redesign with central reservation and bus lanes removed. A couple of side streets are also closed to motor traffic. 




Matching the funding by altering the plans is noy justified. Had they exhausted every other way???? Including trying to get more funds.  Meet and greet car parking Luton

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