LETTERS: Please don’t waste £1m on unneeded cycle route

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AT last week’s council meeting, leader Andrew Burns refused to answer Cllr Balfour’s request that the Transport and Environment Committee come to Roseburn and Haymarket before they arrive at a decision on their £1 million cycle track.

Most of those living along its route oppose it, but I fear that Cllr Burns, being an ardent cyclist and hugely proud of Edinburgh getting folk out of their cars, is minded to drive through the track proposal, no matter what local folk think. He must reckon that there are few Labour votes in the area, so what has he got to lose?

My petition against the website raised 2600 signatures in four weeks, a good proportion of the 6200 who live and work along the course of the track. Most of the others didn’t sign because they knew nothing of the council’s plans. There now seems to be a demand from these disenfranchised supporters to add their voice.

We are, therefore, going to re-launch our petition to give the rest of those living in the vicinity of the route a chance to sign against it.

We will only allow citizens of Edinburgh to sign the renewed petition and only those who did not sign the last one. They can sign it tinyurldotcomslashja2p2kv or at any of the traders that line the route. We will run this petition until the Transport Committee make a decision.

We in Roseburn, Wester Coates and Haymarket do not dislike cycle tracks- we can boast our very own path from Roseburn to Edinburgh city centre, the National Cycle Route 1.

The route along Balbirnie Place is in keeping with the council’s proposed network of ‘Quiet Routes’.

It also does not jeopardise the income of the 40 vital retailers which line the site of the track and will also please Lothian Buses and Living Streets Edinburgh, who have both said the track will increase congestion.

Once he has tried NCR1, I am sure, Cllr Burns will agree the £1m would be better off in his pothole fund.

Peter Gregson, Riversdale Grove, Edinburgh

Cycling will always be a minority interest

I read with interest Brenda Mitchell’s article under the Platform banner in the News of March 8, particularly the percentages of road users in Edinburgh showing 68% of commuting is done by car, 10% by bus, 4% by rail, 13% by walking and 3% by cycling.

Why does the council continue to spend an ever increasing percentage of its road spend on bicycle-based projects when the bicycle percentage is the smallest within road users while the largest user percentage, cars and buses, 78%, experience, on a daily basis, the condition of the road surfaces in Edinburgh deteriorate due to lack of investment?

Does the council ever consider that however more exclusive bicycle lanes they generate at considerable cost, the number of people wishing to use bicycles as their only or even their leisure time mode of transport is limited.

An increase of 1% in bicycle use in the last year is disappointing, and it is disappointing that our council continues to spend money in these times of austerity in an area of transport that is used, and I imagine will always be, by a small percentage of the road users.

Mr K Clark, Edinburgh

BT are delivering a fine broadband service

I’d like to address comments about BT made by George Kerevan MP in his Evening News commentary ‘East Lothian’s broadband problem’.

It’s claimed that a delay in supplying fast broadband to rural areas is largely down to “BT’s inefficiencies and monopolistic protection of its copper wire connections to most homes”.

As a commercial company, BT’s roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband has reached around 1.4 million Scottish premises, including more than 30,000 in East Lothian. These fast services are available over Openreach’s open network, used by hundreds of companies to offer services at a variety of speeds and prices. That isn’t a monopoly.

At the infrastructure level, Virgin Media has a separate, competing network that covers more than half of the UK – and has announced plans to extend this to two thirds of the UK. There is nothing to stop any private company from investing in East Lothian should they choose to do so.

The Digital Scotland intervention programme led by the Scottish Government was created to extend high speed services into rural and other communities where commercial providers couldn’t make a business case for upgrades. BT won this public tender and is investing a further £126m in the £410m rollout with partners.

Half way into the programme we’ve passed another half a million premises and are on budget and ahead of schedule. It will be more than a decade before we see a return on investment.

Mr Kerevan claims that “even Belgium has a better digital economy than the UK.” However, independent data from the regulator Ofcom, the EU and others repeatedly places the UK number one for broadband and superfast broadband when compared to other large EU countries.

The UK is seen globally as one of the most competitive telecoms markets in the world. Ultimately, it would get far less investment if Openreach was a smaller, weaker, independent company and not part of BT.

Brendan Dick, Director, BT Scotland, Alexander Graham Bell House, Edinburgh

Forward planning could save FRB fortune

The problems with the Forth Road Bridge reminded me of a friend who considered servicing his car to be a waste of money. The result was that it eventually ground to a halt and at great expense and inconvenience he had to fit a new engine.

William W Scott, St Baldred’s Road, North Berwick