Back in May 2011, one of our readers inspired us to put a post together looking at cycle facilities at the main supermarkets in Leith.
That post successfully persuaded Sainsbury’s at Meadowbank to install bike parking, where there was none, and so we’ve been meaning to go around all the stores again to update the ratings for some time.
Since 2011, there have been other changes at other local supermarkets too, and they haven’t all been improvements by any means.
But before moving onto the 2013 ratings – it’s worth noting the commonalities that there were amongst all the shops. None of the stores surveyed had any signage indicating the location of the bike parking facilities, and all but one of them provided more elaborate facilities for storing their trolleys than for their customers bikes.
In short, none of them seem to value the pedal powered pound very much – with cycle facilities and access considered only as an afterthought.
In our latest survey, we also widened our search, and added in the Tesco at Cannonmills, Ocean Terminal because there’s an M&S that’s bigger than a “local” store in there, and the Morrison’s on Portobello Road.
The smaller convenience style shops run by the big chains weren’t included because there’s loads of them.
And the way the shops were graded has changed too – to give one grade out of three for access to the store – and one grade out of three for bike parking.
- M&S (and others) Ocean Terminal 4/6
- Tesco – Cannonmills 4/6
- Lidl – Kirkgate 3/6
- Asda – Western Harbour 3/6
- Tesco – Leith 2/6
- Sainsbury – Meadowbank 1/6
- Morrisons – Portobello Road 1/6
Find out how these score were arrived at below:
Lidl – Kirkgate
In 2011, Lidl came out top of our survey which only looked at bike parking. Not much has changed here. It still is one of only two supermarkets in the survey to provide covered bike parking for people arriving on bikes.
When we visited the store, no-one wanted to use the covered bike parking. However, there were three bikes parked in the main shopping centre itself indicating that people may have security concerns over this parking facility – or that they may not know where it is – as there is no signage to it.
Getting to Lidl by bike is OK from the North, as you can use the traffic free pedestrian routes through the Kirkgate – and there are relatively quiet links to the North Edinburgh Cycle Path Network and Leith Links.
From the South, cyclists have to navigate their way through Leith Walk, or Great Junction Street – not so pleasant.
Score: 3 (2/3 for parking, 1/3 for access)
Asda – Western Harbour
Oh dear. The bike parking facilities have actually got worse since 2011 at ASDA Western Harbour.
There used to be a whole, covered over area dedicated to bike parking, but as you can see, now there is just a misleading sign and no bike parking.
On the Newhaven side of the building, there is still quite a lot of bike parking, but as we noted in 2011, it is outside the area where the trolleys are allowed to go. So, if you do a lot of shopping and plan to load up your panniers – or bike trailer – from the trolley, then forget it. You’ll end up carrying your shopping to your bike. And as we noted, the bike parking is not sign posted properly. Not ideal.
Access wise, if you live in Western Harbour, most of the pavements are shared use, so you can bike there quite easily. If you’re travelling from the south, then the path network connections with the Hawthronvale link into the North Edinburgh path network have re-opened after the aborted tram works – but the surfaces and maintenance leave a lot to be desired and signage is non-existent.
So, in terms of scores. The parking isn’t good – but the connections into the wider path network and Western Harbour help to make it relatively good to get to by bike.
Total score: 3 (Parking 1/3, Access 2/3)
M&S Simply food (and other shops) – Ocean Terminal
Ocean Terminal has plentiful bike parking, right at the entrance to the shopping centre. A sizeable proportion of it is covered, and as this photo shows, it gets used too.
It isn’t signposted, but it is prominently and logically positioned as if it were designed to welcome cyclists – rather than added as after thought in a spare corner like most other places.
On the access front, the cycle links to Ocean Terminal are incredibly frustrating. There are red surfaced lanes on many of the pavements near Ocean Terminal, but these clearly have been added as an afterthought.
There are numerous sign-posts placed in the middle of bike lanes, and they fizzle out within a few hundred metres of the shopping centre. Worse – the design of some of the “on pavement” lanes makes them arguably more dangerous than staying on the road at many of the nearby junctions.
This is doubly frustrating because two links to the North Edinburgh Path network are so close by. With good quality, safe, cycle links, Ocean Terminal could have topped the league table.
Total score: 4 (3/3 for parking/ 1/3 for access)
Tesco – Leith
The main Tesco store in Leith has no proper bike parking facilities at all.
So, as this photo shows, people use the former trolley park by the door instead – or the old Leith Waterworld racks around the corner.
Tesco seem to have given up parking trolleys in there, but nevertheless, it isn’t really that good, given the level of demand. At least it’s convenient for the main entrance.
There is no parking whatsoever at the Duke Street entrance, which is also an oversight, as it means people are tempted to lock their bikes on nearby lampposts, bus stops – or even the railing in front of the fire exit. None of those options are advisable, given how narrow the pavements are on Duke Street.
Access to the Leith Tesco by bike is also pretty unpleasant – given that people have a choice of three congested streets to get there: Leith Walk, Duke Street, or Easter Road.
There is no dedicated entrance for bikes – but the Restalrig cycle path that comes out on Easter Road does give less confident cyclists coming from the East some chance of getting to the general vicinity fairly safely.
Total score: 2 (Parking 1/3, Access 1/3)
Sainsbury – Meadowbank
In 2011, this branch of Sainsbury had no cycle parking at all. Now it has this.
It might not seem like much, but this is the stores second attempt to get it right after our first blog post – and even though there are only three racks it seems to be enough to keep up with the demand at most times of day.
It isn’t signposted, or covered, but it is close to the entrance, and fairly obvious.
Sadly, there isn’t really a safe route to this branch of Sainsbury, and this perhaps explains why relatively little bike parking is needed. The whole retail park is designed for car access – and indeed there is a mind bendingly poor set of shared pavement cycle paths at the entrance to the park.
None of the pavement routes are well signed, and like Ocean Terminal, they are arguably more dangerous for cyclists than staying in the traffic. They don’t even go into the retail park itself. Genius.
If, and when, the Lochend Butterfly development is ever completed, then there may be a safe route to this Supermarket created to the north. But for the moment, getting here means traffic and roundabouts.
Score: 1 (Parking 1/3, Access 0/3)
Morrisons – Portobello Road
This branch of Morrison’s does have some decent pedestrian access routes. But they’re the kind of routes that cyclists get frowned at for using.
And as with most supermarkets, this one is first and foremost designed for cars to get in and out of easily, so people on bikes are really supposed to enter via the unsignalised T-junction with the cars – and then cycle around the car park.
There is bike parking – but it’s so cheap and badly designed – even if you can find it – that your wheels will thank you if you lock your bike to the signposts near the front exit, rather than wedge them in the “toaster” racks provided.
Total score: 1 (1/3 for parking, 0/3 for access)
Tesco – Cannonmills
If there was one supermarket in Edinburgh that was in a very good place to capitalise on the pedal powered pound, it’s this one.
Yet, the branch has recently come in for a surprising amount of criticism after a recent investment in site made access for pedestrians and cyclists from the North Edinburgh Path Network more dangerous.
But despite this, it doesn’t fare badly compared to other supermarkets. It is located on an established cycle path – that links it to much of Leith, Warriston, Trinity and Newhaven.
And it has covered bike parking, located pretty close to the door. The trouble is – it needs more bike parking to keep up with demand.
Total score: 4 (2/3 for parking, 2/3 for access)
Do you agree with these survey results? If not, let us know what;s been missed in the comments below.