Leader: ‘Two-wheeled transport is thriving’

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In a city built on seven hills where the weather is at best unpredictable, you might imagine that promoting cycling would be, well ... an uphill struggle.

Throw in the fact that potholes are an ever-present hazard, and that you can opt for an excellent local bus service instead, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a lost cause.

But, perhaps against the odds, two-wheeled transport is thriving in Edinburgh.

One in every 14 journeys by commuters in Edinburgh is now made by bike – three times the national average.

Many people scoffed when it was first suggested that one in seven commuters might go to work by bike within seven years. That now looks like a distinct
possibility.

Cycling is on a high at the moment thanks to the exploits of Sir Chris Hoy, fellow cycling knight Sir Bradley Wiggins and other
Olympic heroes.

But this increase is no flash in the pan. The current upward trend in Edinburgh started long before last summer’s Olympics.

The increased profile and greater interest is, nevertheless, a golden opportunity to encourage even more people to take the plunge.

The benefits of doing so are there for all to see: a healthier population, less traffic pollution and more pleasant, less congested roads.

Key to the increase so far has been the significant investment made by all of the Lothian councils in better infrastructure for cycling. Better off-road routes and dedicated cycle lanes, like those by the King’s Buildings and between Portobello and Leith, are crucial to encouraging people to swap the car or bus for their bike.

The new cycle route under the city bypass, linking Edinburgh and Midlothian, and the cross-city centre route proposed for George Street will be further significant improvements.

The appetite for cycling is certainly here, we have to make sure we cater for it properly.