Journeys by foot and cycle are much better for us and our local environment than journeys by motor vehicles. Each year in Scotland, air pollution is linked to 2000 early deaths, low physical activity to 2500, and accidents directly cause death or life changing injuries to over 1600. Safe cycle routes can help reduce all three counts.
Of course motor vehicles are necessary for many journeys, but by making it safe for more people to walk and cycle the many short inner-city journeys we make, we will get less polluted streets and help our population to be healthier. Independent consultants have used methods developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to forecast the Proposal would yield an economic health benefit of £13.2m over 10 years.
Around 67% of non-cyclists in Britain feel that it is too dangerous to cycle on the roads. That's not surprising given that latest figures from Transport Scotland show that there were 8 cyclists killed and 155 serious injuries in Scotland in 2014. Most of these come from mixing of different types of traffic. The proposed Cycle Route will give motor traffic, cycles and pedestrians each their own separate space.
Edinburgh Council Transport Vision sets a goal for cycling of 15% by 2020. To meet this goal, we need a network of segregated paths, allowing cyclists to feel safer. There are clear precedents in Edinburgh that a safe, direct cycle path will be used: Middle Meadow Walk recorded half a million users last year and paths on old railway lines are busy.
With many improvements to pedestrian crossing facilities, the Proposal will help protect pedestrians too (921 serious injuries/fatalities), in particular with the extra pedestrian crossings at Roseburn Terrace, Roseburn Street and Russell Road.
Walking and cycling benefit people’s health too — reducing the pressure on the NHS.
In Scotland, it is estimated that low activity contributes to around 2,500 deaths per year and costs the NHS £94 million annually.— The Scottish Government, Scottish Health Survey 2012
Regular moderate physical activity, including walking and cycling, can help prevent and reduce the risk of physical and mental health problems. For many people, the easiest way to exercise is to incorporate physical activity into everyday life, for example by walking or cycling instead of travelling by car or bus.
The creation and provision of environments that encourage and support physical activity offers the greatest potential to get the nation active.— NHS Health Scotland
Vehicle emissions include nitrogen dioxide, particulates and other pollutants which are harmful to health, especially to those with respiratory illnesses. Recent air quality monitoring data shows that nitrogen dioxide concentrations at the nearby monitoring station in St John's Road are the worst in Scotland and well above the European legal limit.
Air pollution causes 2,000 early deaths in Scotland every year — it's a serious public health crisis and tackling it should be a top priority for the Scottish government.— Emilia Hanna, Friends of the Earth Scotland
The figure comes from the Government's own Health Protection Scotland.
Cycle routes are just one part of the city-wide Transport Vision which aims to reduce nitrogen dioxide concentrations year on year from 2007 levels. Many people have no intention to own a bicycle and will stick to other forms of transport, but those that do walk and cycle are helping to improve air quality for everyone.