Vital National Cycle Network link in Edinburgh celebrates 100,000 journeys since reopening

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Sustrans Scotland and Scottish Canals staff gathered at Leamington Lift Bridge on National Cycle Network Routes 75 and 754 in Edinburgh to mark over 100,000 journeys since the crossing was reopened to the public in July.

Daisy Narayanan, Director of Urbanism at Sustrans Scotland, and Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals, joined Edinburgh City Councillor and Canal Champion Gavin Corbett to celebrate the completion of extensive repair works, which have allowed this hugely popular section of the National Cycle Network in Edinburgh to remain open to walkers, wheelers and cyclists.

Originally completed in 1906, Leamington Lift Bridge was closed to pedestrian traffic in 2018 after being identified as a public safety and operational risk. Essential repair work was able to commence thanks to the award of £350,000 through Sustrans Scotland’s National Cycle Network Development Programme, funded by Transport Scotland.

This funding allowed the existing structure of the 122-year old lift bridge to be preserved whilst crucial upgrades were made to the lifting mechanism. The bridge reopened on 26th July 2019.

Situated along the Union Canal towpath at Edinburgh Quay, the area receives over 1 million visits per year, with an average of over 300 cyclists using this section of the National Cycle Network daily.

Director of Urbanism at Sustrans Scotland, Daisy Narayanan

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said: “The Leamington Lift Bridge is critically important for both boating traffic and for those who choose to walk and cycle the Union Canal towpath as part of the National Cycle Network and their everyday journeys.

“I’m pleased the Scottish Government has been able to support these crucial repair works through Sustrans Scotland and Scottish Canals and it is clear that this historic location remains relevant today with over 100,000 people choosing to walk, cycle and commute across the upgraded bridge since July.

“The work that Scottish Canals and Sustrans Scotland continues to undertake directly contributes to our response to the climate emergency – encouraging more sustainable and active travel in our towns and cities through high-quality infrastructure.”

Director of Urbanism at Sustrans Scotland, Daisy Narayanan, said: “We are delighted that Sustrans Scotland has been able to support the preservation of this crucial link along the National Cycle Network in Edinburgh.

“Every day hundreds of people use Routes 75 and 754 for commuting and leisure journeys.

“The essential upgrades to the bridge have protected an important connection along the National Cycle Network, allowing Sustrans to continue delivering our vision of a network of traffic-free paths for everyone, connecting cities, towns and countryside, and loved by the communities they serve.”    

Catherine Topley, Chief Executive at Scottish Canals, said: ‘We would like to extend our thanks to Sustrans Scotland and the Scottish Government for the funding award, to our Councillor Gavin Corbett for being our ‘Canal Champion’ and to all the local residents and canal users for their support during the works period.

“Safety is always our first priority, but it’s great when investments like this mean the canals can be used to their fullest extent by the public’.

Local councillor and Edinburgh City Canal Champion Gavin Corbett said: “The word ‘iconic’ is used a lot to describe parts of our city but it is really true for the Lift Bridge and what it means for the Union Canal within Edinburgh. 

“There had been fears that its days were numbered and it would be no more than a museum piece after a century of gracing Fountainbridge, especially when there are so few other remaining reminders of the area’s industrial past. 

“So I am delighted that is has been restored to full working order and I look forward to it being a big part of the Union Canal’s bicentenary in 2022 and beyond.”

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