In its Creating Safe Spaces for Walking and Cycling paper from the Transport and Environment Committee meeting on 14 May streets were listed for repurposing. This included Wester Coates Road to Magdala Crescent (they must have meant Wester Coates Terrace – the link to the NEPN) – anyway along the A8.
A pop up route to Corstorphine along the A8 has also been proposed. Here is our response to the proposal:
Having gathered the views of our members, it is perhaps not a surprise that we support the proposal for a pop up cycle route on the A8 out to Corstorphine, and I will set out why.
The local shared use paths are currently full of people doing their daily exercise and there is simply not space for more people cycling on these routes. Below is a tweet regarding the Pinkhill Railway which runs parallel to the A8.
Councillors have also raised concerns from elderly residents saying they are scared to used shared paths because how busy they are.
And given we have both UK & Scottish Governments calling for more people to cycle to leave the very limited space on buses/trams with physical distancing (only 10% of previous capacity has been quoted for London) for those who have no other option (only 60% of Edinburgh households have access to a car), we need to create space for those choosing to cycle and not on the shared paths.
The A8 offers a direct route and could easily be converted with a pop-up cycle lane. This would give a clear message for those starting out cycling to use it. These are exactly the type of people who would otherwise be put off by sharing the road with motor vehicles and therefore heading to the shared paths.
You'll recall that in last year's BikeLife survey 74% of residents supported building more protected on-road cycle tracks, even when this would mean less room for other road traffic, so there was already a lot of support for this kind of intervention. https://www.sustrans.org.uk/…/…/bikelife19_edinburgh_web.pdf
It should be noted that the data for Covid-19 shows a link between hospitalisation rates and obesity, so getting the population healthier through exercise is important in short term as well as longer term benefits.
(This is behind a paywall but you can get the gist)
And finally, whilst traffic levels are low we have the opportunity to put in a temporary cycle lane to see how many journeys previously done by car can be changed to other less polluting methods. We all want the economy to recover, but having seen massive reductions in air pollution in recent weeks, do we really want to rush back to car dominated streets without at least trying to build back better?
And to answer a couple of specific comments from my fellow community Councillors.
1. Pavements could also be widened in Roseburn Terrace, by way of a row of cones with a cycle lane outside.
2.. Given the public health & economic crisis we are currently facing, I don't think that aesthetics should hold much sway in our decision making. As I understand the regulations, these interventions would only be allowed to remain for 18 months before being removed, which should give some comfort.
3. We all want a thriving public transport system, but unfortunately confidence has taken a huge blow given the capacity issues I mention above. I don't see travel times as the critical feature of bus confidence just now, so the impact of sharing a traffic lane with cars to make space for a cycle lane is a sacrifice we think is worth making for now.
We strongly support pop-up cycle lanes on the A8 and urge MCC to do so as well.