Cycle Route approved

We have a lot to celebrate:

  • The Ride-the-Route event was a huge success with nearly 200 cyclists joining to support the Cycle Route.
  • The Council have given approval for our City's East-West Cycle Route, with all political parties voting in support.
  • Work will start immediately to secure further funding and to make preparations to commence the necessary statutory processes for the scheme.  Lesley Hinds, the Transport Convener has confirmed that the timetable is unchanged: final design decisions by the end of year.
  • There will be a further attempt to gain consensus and the best design possible with a stakeholder working group.

The Council deferred some detailed design decisions — in particular the controversial Roseburn Terrace option A versus option B.  Some campaigners are criticising this as a fudge.  We feel that it's worth taking the time to embark on this transformational project with consensus rather than coercion.

This new stakeholder group will allow all interested parties to get round the table and thrash out the remaining issues, listening to each other's points of view and - hopefully - arriving at a conclusion which the majority are happy with so that the final route design can be agreed.

— Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener

We've made it clear on our site from the start: our claims are based on evidence and we're keen to listen to any other evidence for and against.  Read more: our analysis; Spokes detailed article; blog by Sustrans.

Final call for support

The Council have now published the report for the Transport and Environment Committee meeting on 30th August where Councillors will decide on the Cycle Route.  It's a detailed and thorough document spanning 43 pages, including a detailed analysis or concerns raised, design changes made, and comments.

Our executive summary is that the Council Cycling Team are offering a segregated direct cycle route, with numerous benefits, and welcomed by the majority of City residents who responded to the consultation.  Dozens of detailed concerns have been addressed, and there is clear evidence that the solution presented is the right one.

As expected, the report includes two options — see our analysis

  • Option A is direct, in keeping with the rest of the route
  • Option B diverts to the back roads yielding space to extra loading bays — mostly currently misused for parking

Most unusually, the Committee Report does not make any recommendation between the options, and says it is up to the Committee to decide.  This is a clear sign that political opinion is seriously divided.  We need to show our Councillors that we want the route done properly, rather than losing our nerve for the last section.

There have already been lots of compromises, most of which we support, to help other users.  Option B seems like a 'compromise' that nobody really benefits from.

[Option B] is a dog’s dinner of a compromise that really needs a lot more work

— Main campaigners against the route

A is the best option. Full stop. But it's even best in purely political sense because all hate B and one side likes A.

— Marco Biagi, former SNP minister on Twitter

Please make one last effort to show Councillors your support for the route and Option A — by email, social media, or joining our ride.  Please persuade all your friends to join in!

Edinburgh Councillors decide

Our group are calling for Edinburgh Councillors to back the City's Transport Vision to create a new generation of cycle routes.  Please join our call and write to your Councillors.

The current plans have two options at Roseburn, and we call for Councillors to support option A, the direct route.  Option B restricts motorists with narrow junctions and more crossings and offers cyclists a back-route detour that some will ignore.

Direct segregated cycle paths are a key part of changing the way we travel.  Success stories in London and elsewhere show that many people are willing to cycle if they have a safe path that leads to their destination.  Many Scottish cities put in strong bids to follow the proven results, with Glasgow celebrating their win of the Sustrans Community Links PLUS funding.  Edinburgh are still eligible for the main Community Links funding program, and we have high hopes given that Sustrans are “extremely supportive” and “delighted”.

72% of residents strongly support the need to invest in cycle routes, recognising the key benefits to all of us, not just those already keen to cycle.

  • Reduced congestion and parking problems — bikes take up much less space on the road or parked and so help avoid economic disaster if our growing City grinds to a halt.
  • Lower air pollution — our area is above international limits, the worst in Scotland, which has over 2000 early deaths per year, with kids worst affected.
  • Healthier lifestyles — low activity costs lives and £millions; cycling the commute or school run is a practical option for busy families.
  • Improvements for pedestrians — wider pavements, improved crossings and safer travel separate from the bikes rather than sharing.

This is a landmark decision for our City.  The E-W route fills a vital missing gap in the cycle network, and so can help take the load off congested roads such as Queen Street all the way out towards Costorphine.  What's more, we are setting a precedent that will affect many future Active Travel developments planned in our City.

Locally, the project will greatly improve the congested and canyon-like Roseburn Terrace, with wider pavements on the south side and walkers separated from traffic by the cycleway on the north side.   Yet, whilst overall support for the route is very strong, there is vocal opposition in the Roseburn area.  The Council Cycling Officers have spent months in consultations and adapted the plans to meet key concerns, such as loading for shops.  We have read through pages and pages of the opposition publications, and found their claims to be without evidence.

For example, it is claimed that the route will ruin local businesses.  At the recent Murrayfield Community Council meeting I asked campaigner Peter Gregson about this, and he admitted, there was no data to back the claim.  In fact dozens of detailed studies have shown that "replacing on-street parking with a bike lane has little to no impact on local business, and in some cases might even increase business" — and no study says the opposite.  In any case, the parking that happens in Roseburn Terrace is often illegal parking in loading-only bays, blocking one lane at the busy junction.

Do we want a route which dives down the back streets (option B), full of compromises, to let car-dominated thinking prevail?  Sufficiently contorted that many cyclist will ignore it, acting as a symbol of failed cycling investment?

Or do we want a route (incorporating option A) that can change our City for the better?  Realistically useful to increase cycling substantially with few impacts on journeys by car and transforming our local environment to a more people-friendly place?

Public Meeting

Haymarket cycle parking
Haymarket station — parking for 90 bikes in the space 6 cars would use

If the new Cycle Route would make a difference to you then please come and share your views at the public meeting about the cycle track.

Tuesday 2nd August 7pm-9.15pm

Murrayfield Parish Church Hall, 2b Ormidale Terrace EH12 6EQ

The meeting is organised by the local residents campaigning against the route, but they have speakers to put both sides of the story.  We'll be there to help explain why the Cycle Route Proposal is beneficial to Roseburn and Edinburgh as a whole.

Our message is simple:

  • The purpose of the Cycle Route is to attract hundreds of new cyclists who are keen to cycle provided there is a safe and efficient option.
  • There are already too many cars on our roads especially at peak times of the day.
  • Benefits include reduced congestion and parking problems, lower air pollution, wider pavements, safer crossings, and a boost to local traders.
  • The Council have listened to feedback to update the route with almost all loading retained at Roseburn.
  • Living Streets Edinburgh and Murrayfield Community Council recognise that local residents want to minimise the impact of cars.

Download meeting agenda.

Useful Downloads: 

Key concerns addressed

Last week we highlighted the official Consultation Report showing 72% of respondents strongly support the need to invest.

The Council have been working on updated designs and draft versions have now been published unofficially.  We are delighted to see that the Council has answered the key concerns whilst preserving the principles that will make the route a success.

  • Businesses: new cycle custom yet loading retained on both sides of Roseburn Terrace.
  • Congestion: increased junction capacity with extended 60m right turn lane.
  • Pedestrians: still get new crossings and blocked rat run to protect school kids; scrapped plan for "floating bus stop" on Roseburn Terrace.
  • Cyclists: still get segregated direct routes forecast to bring a substantial increase in cycling.

The die-hard opponents of the route are still campaigning against, but the Report shows there is widespread agreement that a Route is needed.  Now that the most common criticisms have been answered, it seems likely that many of those who originally signed the petition against the route would see the updated design as a sensible compromise.

Two Options for Roseburn

We have learnt that the Council Transport and Environment Committee will be presented with an two options at Roseburn.  We are joining the Council in strongly supporting Option A, which follows the original route along Roseburn Terrace.

Option B, along Roseburn Street, is contorted, especially for cyclists coming from Costorphine and Murrayfield.  Confident cyclists will stay on the narrowed main carriageway opposite the protected track — frustrating motorists, and acting as a symbol of failed cycling investment.  Meanwhile less confident cyclists will bring traffic to a halt on 4 successive crossings.

As this Evening News article points out, option B is bad for businesses, who miss out on custom from passing cyclists and lose the improvements to the pedestrian shopping environment.


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