About the Active Freeway

East Lothian has the opportunity to re-purpose the A199 into a corridor for local traffic alongside a high-quality, shared-use path for walking, wheeling and cycling. This will link Dunbar through East Linton, Haddington and Tranent to Musselburgh and onto Edinburgh, and has the potential to be an efficient cycle commuter route and to provide crucial local connections.

Artist's impression of a typical cross-section of the Cross East Lothian Active Freeway

Artist's impression of a typical cross-section of the Cross East Lothian Active Freeway


A study published in 2016 costed the improved active travel link between Dunbar and Musselburgh and the route was incorporated into our Local Development Plan 2018. Since then, developers within 1.2km of the proposed route have been making contributions towards the construction costs. In addition to these, in 2023, we secured additional external support to develop detailed designs for the first stages of the route (Dunbar to Haddington, and Haddington to Tranent), and are now seeking further funding to take these forward to construction. If our applications are successful, we hope to begin construction in 2024, with all of the costs having been met by partner organisations.


The Active Freeway project between Dunbar and Tranent is shown in the map below; routeing through Haddington is to be confirmed. With the exception of short sections within East Linton, the active freeway is proposed to follow the route of the A199.

The project is proposed to be constructed in phases, with the section between Haddington and Tranent constituting the first works package, and as well as some changes to the entrances into East Linton. The other phases will be developed as funding opportunities become available.  

Plan showing the extents of the Active Freeway currently under consideration

Plan showing the extents of the Active Freeway currently under consideration

Further information can be viewed on this  interactive map.


An online survey and a series of pop-up events to gather the views of stakeholders and the public took place in the summer of 2023 to identify problems and opportunities along the study corridor related to walking, wheeling, cycling, public transport and placemaking. Following this, a second round of consultation (online and via a drop-in event) gathered feedback on the initial design proposals. Feedback was collated by the study team and incorporated into designs where possible. The final designs will be published in 2024.


Cycling by Design, which provides guidance for cycling infrastructure design in Scotland, requires a 2.5m wide path with a 1m ‘buffer strip’ (an area of hardstanding or verge between the path and the carriageway) where the path runs parallel to a 40mph road; for roads with a 60mph speed limit, a 2.5m wide buffer strip is required. The detailed design work has shown it is not possible to fit a 2.5m buffer within the existing road corridor for most of its length. We are therefore proposing to reduce the speed limit on the A199 to 40mph. This will enable us to meet the design standards and access funding from the Scottish Government to begin construction. Keeping the proposed path within the road corridor also removes the need to use land that is not owned by East Lothian Council (for example, land behind a wall or hedge) and provides additional benefits by reducing the impact on local biodiversity since hedges can largely remain intact.  

It is recognised that the A199 is a diversionary route for A1 traffic when the trunk road is closed, and so we have sought to retain the A199's existing carriageway width where possible by using verge or carriageway currently allocated as advisory cycle lane to construct the proposed path. Where this is not possible, the carriageway width is proposed to be reduced to keep the proposed path within the road corridor. At all points it will be possible for large vehicles such as HGVs and buses to safely pass each other, and road markings and signage will make constraints clear.

Bus stops along the route are proposed to be enhanced, and we are taking the opportunity to provide hardstanding and bus stop shelters where space allows on the south side of the road. Dropped kerb crossings and tactile paving between bus stops on opposite sides of the road are also proposed.  

Directional and informational signage will highlight local points of interest, thus supporting sustainable tourism and enhancing East Lothian as a place in which to live, work and visit. Biodiversity will also be enhanced through wildflower and tree planting where possible, thus improving the overall attractiveness of the corridor.

The proposed path has been designed to provide a more enjoyable experience for people travelling actively along the corridor (including for those that are unable to drive) and will reduce journey times for cyclists. The proposals are also anticipated to improve safety for motorists through reduced speeds.  

The route passes through Gladsmuir and Macmerry and we propose significant changes to the road environment within the village boundaries which will reduce traffic speeds through these areas. If funding is forthcoming, we will consult further with affected communities over the course of this year in order to refine the design.

Speed limits

The statutory process (known as a Traffic Regulation Order (“TRO”)) to introduce a reduced speed limit along the route will begin in the spring. when it will be published for comment on www.tellmescotland.gov.uk/. Statutory consultees such as bus and haulage operators, emergency services and community councils will be given separate opportunities to engage.

The new lower speed limit of 40mph would apply on the A199 between Dunbar – East Linton; East Linton – Haddington; Haddington – Gladsmuir; Gladsmuir - Macmerry; and Macmerry - Tranent;  existing 20mph and 30mph speed limits within and on approach to the settlements would be retained. 

We recognise that some concerns have been raised about the impact of the speed limit changes on journey times for motorists and bus users when travelling along the A199 corridor. It is anticipated that journey times will not be affected for most people travelling between Dunbar, Haddington, Macmerry and Tranent given the presence of the A1, which runs parallel to the corridor and provides an alternative route at which motorists can travel higher speed limits.

The Active Freeway project is also being progressed in line with wider policies to reduce the number of car kilometres driven and to encourage more travel by active modes (walking, wheeling and cycling). In addition to anticipated health benefits associated with the proposed path, a reduction in the speed limit also supports targets to reduce the number of incidents on the road network. There is evidence that lower speeds reduce the number of casualties and the Road Safety Framework to 2030 sets out a long term vision for road safety, whereby there are zero fatalities and injuries on Scotland’s roads by 2050.

Next Steps

We are in the process of finalising designs and are looking to secure external funding to take proposals through to construction.