A regular cyclist on Leith Walk decided to investigate what the actual rules are around double parking in the new advisory cycle lanes on Leith Walk. The responses she got are not reassuring.
I use my bike to commute to work and cycle up and down Leith Walk on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, Leith Walk poses several issues for cyclists. The upper half (London Road – Pilrig Street) is rather a collection of potholes than a street, making the ride not only bumpy and uncomfortable, but also signaling close to impossible (as removing one hand from your handle bar closely equals losing control over your bike).
It therefore was great to see that the lower half (Pilrig Street – Foot of the Walk) was completely resurfaced, and even a designated cycle path has been incorporated.
Well. Whenever I now cycle on Leith Walk, I encounter several cars loading or double parking on the cycle lane, forcing me to leave the cycle lane and join the general traffic several times during my journey along the Walk.
This represents an even bigger danger than the potholes on the upper half of the Walk and I must say it probably would be safer not having a cycle lane at all.
When I first contacted the council about the double parking/loading on the cycle lane several months ago, I was told that as soon as all the road markings have been done, parking restrictions will be enforced.
As the situation didn’t improve noticeable (even though all the road markings were in place) I contacted the council again and received the following reply:
“From your enquiry, it appears that the problems that you are encountering are caused by poor or inconsiderate parking on Leith Walk.
“The Police should be able to take action against vehicles parked in the cycle lanes, where an actual obstruction is caused.
“With regard to our Parking Attendants, they should also be able to take action as parking restrictions are present adjacent to the cycle lane. However, when issuing parking tickets in these circumstances a five minute observation period needs to be given and we often find that the vehicles are removed before the parking ticket issuing process is complete.
“However, we will request that some extra Parking Attendant visits are made to Leith Walk as their presence should help to deter the inconsiderate parking you have seen.”
I then contacted the police, and initially received the following e-mail:
“Thank you for your e mail. I will pass on to Leith officers to give the area attention. In my opinion Council traffic wardens should also be dealing with the issue. Sadly the Police Traffic wardens no longer exist but council wardens should be able to take action. As a cyclist myself I’m well aware of the danger and annoyance this causes.”
This was followed by another e-mail:
“I’ve been looking for some clarification regarding parking on cycle lanes and came across this today on a CTC website
“Cycle lanes. These are shown by road markings and signs. You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.
“I checked Leith Walk last night and the cycle lane has a broken line. As I understand it this is an advisory lane so, technically driving, stopping and parking is not illegal. I’m trying to get 100% clarification on this from Roads Policing colleagues and will get back to you.”
And a last one:
“From Roads Policing: r140 of the Highway Code more or less covers it.
“If it’s dashed (Broken white lines) then it appears you shouldn’t park in it but nothing legal stops you unless there are waiting restrictions painted alongside. E.g. Timed loading restrictions etc.
Sorry but that’s pretty much what I expected.”
So it seems the council has invested a fair amount of money into a second parking lane marked in pretty red with a couple of cycles painted onto it.
I now wondered if there is anything you or I can do to improve the current situation?
EDITORS NOTE: With regards to your final question, officials assured cycle campaigners during the consultation phase on the design of the northern half of Leith Walk that if the advisory cycle lanes on the street were shown not to work (and Greener Leith – and volunteers from SPOKES – assured them at the time they wouldn’t before they built them) then they would revisit the design with a view to at least installing mandatory lanes – not advisory ones. Perhaps it’s time for officials to seriously revisit this aspect of the Leith Walk design as part of any moves to bring the tram to Leith? (a decision on that is to be made by councillors this autumn.)
Photo credit: Double parking on Leith Walk | CC | Chris Hill | https://flic.kr/p/qRQSYR