City Centre West to East Link officially opened

Photograph of children on bikes cycling towards the camera on a cycle lane and through a ribbon

A landmark scheme to transform walking, wheeling and cycling between the east and west of the city was officially opened today (Wednesday 20 March).

Members of the community joined Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener; Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights; and other stakeholders in Haymarket to celebrate the momentous occasion, following the completion of the City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL).

Pupils from local primary schools were amongst the first to test out part of the route, participating in a group ride from Old Colt Bridge which arrived in Haymarket in time for the festivities. Here, they were treated to music performed by St Mary’s Music School pupils and a range of walking, wheeling and cycling-themed activities.

Construction on the £23m CCWEL route began in February 2022 and has been principally funded by the Scottish Government through Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme. The scheme connects Roseburn to Leith Walk via Haymarket and the West End with a safe and direct cycle route, as well as significantly enhancing streets for those walking, wheeling and spending time there. This will tie into a new George Street cycling thoroughfare delivered as part of the George Street and First New Town project.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said:

Today we celebrated a major development for walking, wheeling and cycling in the Capital, with the completion of CCWEL. This major scheme is not only one of the largest pieces of active travel infrastructure delivered in Edinburgh, but it has transformed spaces along the route for the use and enjoyment of people who live, visit and work here.

I’m pleased that that the community and all those involved were able to share in celebrating the occasion today – we really want them to benefit from the route. I’d like to thank local residents and businesses for their patience throughout construction, which I know has been disruptive at times.

Now it’s open, CCWEL will form a key section of our growing walking, wheeling and cycling network, connecting with Roseburn to Union Canal, George Street and First New Town and other key routes. This kind of joined-up project delivery is essential for helping people to choose clean, sustainable modes of transport, in turn supporting our net zero 2030 goals, as well as improving air quality and reducing congestion.

Patrick Harvie, Minister for Active Travel said:

I was delighted to attend the start of the work on the City Centre West to East Link two years ago and even more so to see it open today. This new active travel route forms a key part of the growing network across Edinburgh, providing another safe and sustainable option for people to move about Scotland’s capital.

This ambitious investment in active travel infrastructure was made possible through grant funding from the Scottish Government administered through Sustrans Scotland’s Places For Everyone Fund. I am grateful to City of Edinburgh Council for working so closely with all partners, not least the many communities set to benefit from this investment.

Karen McGregor, Scotland Director for Sustrans said:

The City Centre West to East Link is an absolute game-changer within the world of active travel. For the first time ever in Scotland, we’ve delivered a fully segregated walking, wheeling and cycling connection that cuts through the heart of the city centre. In doing so, this fantastic new route gives the people of Edinburgh a safe and accessible driving alternative, allowing people to get to where they want, how they want, regardless of age or ability.

I would like to thank all those involved for their support and keen involvement in its delivery.

Other activities along the route included free bike checks from Dr Bike, bike marking by Police Scotland, cargo bike trials and the opportunity to meet the team responsible for the project.

As well as connecting to cycling and walking improvements delivered through the George Street and First New Town project and on Leith Walk as part of Trams to Newhaven, CCWEL will link to the Roseburn to Union Canal route, due for completion this year, and Meadows to George Street. Construction on this is planned for 2025.

By supporting people to travel by foot, bike and wheel, CCWEL aligns with the City Mobility Plan 2030, which envisions a clean, connected and net zero carbon future.

Find out more about CCWEL.

Published: March 20th 2024