Calls for cyclists to be given more space on city roads

Ian Maxwell of Spokes would like to see more road provision for cyclist commuters in the Capital. Picture: Ian Georgeson/TSPL
Ian Maxwell of Spokes would like to see more road provision for cyclist commuters in the Capital. Picture: Ian Georgeson/TSPL
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CAMPAIGNERS have called for cyclists to be given more space on Edinburgh’s roads after counting more bikes during rush hour than ever before.

Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said its latest count this week showed the volume of cars was down nearly five per cent on last year and almost a quarter less than in 2007.

At the same time, it said cycle commuting into the Capital had reached record levels.

The group said the figures, measured in Tuesday morning’s rush hour, would make it easier to provide more road space for bikes.

Traffic was recorded from 8-9am on Lothian Road and Forrest Road, which links The Meadows cycle paths with George IV Bridge. More than one in four vehicles heading into the city centre were bikes.

Spokes said the total number of bikes had increased by 7.2 per cent since last May to 553.

They have also gone up by 51 per cent from 366 in the first count in 2007.

By contrast, car traffic has fallen by 4.6 per cent since last year and 23 per cent over the ten years.

A Spokes official said: “This is a success for the council, which has a bold local transport strategy target to cut car use.

“Most cars – 76 per cent – have only one occupant, a huge waste of precious road space in the heart of the city. The new council should take every advantage of this great legacy from the last administration to speed up plans to boost cycling, as well as walking and public transport.

“The continuing decline in car numbers makes it much easier than ten years ago to re-allocate road space.”

Spokes said this should include segregated cycle lanes on “scary” Lothian Road.

It said: “There are few roads in the city which would benefit so strongly from such a scheme.

“There is almost certainly a big pent-up further demand from people who’d like to cycle but don’t feel safe until they have the right conditions.”

However, a motoring group feared wider cycle lanes could increase congestion for other vehicles.

Neil Greig, policy and research director of IAM RoadSmart, said: “This rather limited survey does appear to show certain routes are attracting more cyclists, which is good news for congestion and the environment.

“For safety, and to assist in the completion of a well-connected network of segregated cycling facilities, Lothian Road looks like a good candidate for investment.

“However, the economy of the capital city will still be dependent on good access for motorised transport for the foreseeable future so any design solutions that create artificial congestion and higher emission levels must be avoided.”

John Lauder, director of cycle route developers Sustrans Scotland, said: “Edinburgh’s previous administration has set things in motion for cycling.

“We are keen to work with the new administration to keep up this momentum.”

alastair.dalton@jpress.co.uk