Cycle lanes need a balancing act

An artist's impression of one of the proposed new cycle lanes for west Edinburgh. Picture: contributed
An artist's impression of one of the proposed new cycle lanes for west Edinburgh. Picture: contributed
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Spending £12 million making the city’s roads safer for cycling has got to be a good thing, you might reasonably suppose.

Yet there will have been a collective intake of breath in many homes at the prospect of creating more major cycle lanes on and around some of our busiest streets.

Safe cycling routes add enormously to the quality of life in Edinburgh. Everyone by now knows the huge health benefits that an active lifestyle brings, especially when it encourages us to leave our gas-guzzling cars at home too.

There has been a surge in the popularity of cycling in the city thanks in large part to heavy council investment in new infrastructure.

There is no doubt that separating bikes from cars and buses is the most effective way of protecting cyclists on the most traffic-clogged streets. The trouble of course comes in carving out space for these new bike lanes. That can be fiendishly tricky in a busy and historic city like Edinburgh.

You need to create spaces where not only cyclists are safe, but pedestrians too, and where cars and buses can continue to flow in a way that allows the city to go about its daily business. That is a delicate balancing act and why there will be such great interest in the precise detail of the city’s latest plans.