Whilst the debate is ongoing on how to persuade would-be cyclists onto the roads, recent Greener Leith research shows that safe cycle paths are the no 1 requirement to get people on their bikes. Everyone agrees that this is a Good Thing. It increases active travel and public health, reduces pollution and congestion. It is also good for local businesses.
With a revised layout of Leith Walk up for consultation, Edinburgh has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create cycle paths down the Walk such as this ‘segregated’ one that we spotted outside Ikea.
It is not very long – about 25 metres – but beautifully made with nice RED gravel. However, as lovely as this cycle path is, it also demonstrates its builders’ lack of reasoning, or, if you prefer, joint-up thinking: it is built in complete isolation and doesn’t go anywhere; it connects a busy roundabout on Costkea Way with the car park of IKEA.
Which leads me to the no 2 requirement to get people on their bikes: good connections. North Edinburgh, with its many off-road cycle ways has some of the best routes available for those who want to cycle, or learn to cycle, on paths, safe, segregated and protected from motorised vehicles.
How wonderful it would be if safe cycle paths were installed on Leith Walk and it was joined up with the existing network?
In case anyone is not aware of the difference between ‘segregated’ and ‘protected’ cycle paths, there is an important distinction. The former involves a physical separation, such as a kerb or a hedge, whereas the latter involves mainly paint, so is cheaper to implement.
But with only a limited budget available for the forthcoming Leith Walk road works Greener Leith fears that the cycling provision may turn out only to involve the “advisory lanes” that force cyclists to compete with cars and buses for space. At the very least, we’re calling on the council to install protected cycle lanes – that run on the road – but between the pavement and the parked cars.
This post was updated on 22/12/2012 with more detail clarifying the different types of cycle lanes.