Tackling congestion

Busy London cycle path (credit Sarah Wishart)

We are are growing city, with potentially an astonishing 22% population growth over the next 20 years.  As the petition against the Cycle Route points out, we have car dominated traffic (over 75% on West Coates), each car carrying only 1.2 people.  Our City is at risk of grinding to a halt with congestion, parking problems and pollution.

The Cycle Route is part of the Council's city-wide strategy to tackle congestion by promoting alternatives.  In Edinburgh, there are thousands of people keen to leave their car at home and cycle instead.  All it takes is a viable alternative: safe and efficient.

Roseburn Terrace traffic modelling

Edinburgh Council cycling officers presented detail modelling results to a meeting of Cycle Route "interested parties" including campaigners for and against.

As expected, the blocked rat-run and new pedestrian crossing will impact traffic flows on Russell Road and Roseburn Street.  Offsetting this, the proposal brings improved junction design, modern intelligent signals and optimised signal timings.  There was unanimous consent of those present that this overall package was a benefit to our community.

On the other hand, the model showed that the cycle lane will have minimal incremental impact.  What's more, the model conservatively assumed that traffic levels stay exactly the same — whereas separate studies predict a significant increase in cycling, hence fewer cars and less jams.

Cycle Route efficiency

The capacity of the Cycle Route is huge in relation to the space used.

Thanks to Cycling Promotion Fund for this photo showing the road space occupied by 69 people on foot, by bike and by car (assuming average peak-hour occupancy rates).

Motorists should bear in mind that if we don't promote cycling and public transport, the main alternative policy is to make car journeys less attractive: parking restrictions; speed limits; road humps; congestion charging; rat-run blockage.  In some countries, congestion has got so bad that car owners can only drive on alternate days.

West Coates: not the bottleneck

It's important to note that West Coates isn't the bottleneck, and the traffic is mostly freely flowing.  The road is narrower and busier at Roseburn Terrace, where the queues form.  There are currently 2 lanes available to general traffic, and the proposal maintains them.

The Council has done modelling (report from the Transport and Environment Committee item 3.9) which shows that impact of the changes would be modest.  In fact one regular commuter observed that we've even had a real world test:

Earlier in the year, there were lane closures on West Coates down to one lane each way, and the traffic still flowed freely at peak times.