Calls to restrict cycling on Portobello promenade

Cyclists and pedestrians vie for space on Portobello Promenade. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Cyclists and pedestrians vie for space on Portobello Promenade. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

RESIDENTS in Portobello have raised safety concerns over the presence of bicycles on the promenade after a child was involved in a hit-and-run incident with a cyclist on one of the busiest beach days of the year.

The child was walking back across the prom towards his mother after visiting an ice-cream van when he collided with the cyclist, who continued on his ride without stopping.

The incident, witnessed by hundreds of people on Monday afternoon, has reignited calls by some locals to restrict access to bikes during peak season.

Mary Walker, who saw the collision, described it as “shocking” and said it was far from an isolated case.

She added: “Every day, the cyclists speed up and down the prom with no regard for anybody walking or how busy it is.

“On days like Monday, when the place was absolutely mobbed, there’s no way bikes should be allowed anywhere near the area, especially if their owners aren’t going to be responsible.”

Lucille Watt, manager of the Seabeach Nursery on the promenade, said cyclists had previously caused problems for children in the area and called for a specific cycle path to be painted on the promenade.

She said: “We’ve had issues with cyclists speeding up and down the prom before and even an incident where a young boy was knocked over.”

“Whenever we take kids down to the beach we’ll always carry out a full risk assessment before we go, but we still have to be extremely careful.

“Obviously it’s a communal area, the promenade should be for everyone but cyclists have to take into consideration the safety of pedestrians and slow down.

“In town, there are cycle paths, cycle lanes, there’s designated areas for them to ride, I can’t understand why there isn’t something similar down there.”

Cycling was historically banned on the promenade, however city officials lifted restrictions in 2011 due to numerous riders flouting the ban.

Plans to establish a dedicated cycle path on the Prom were considered shortly after, however they were later canned due to concerns over a lack of space.

The area is now designated as a “shared space” between cyclists and pedestrians.

Councillor Maureen Child called on cyclists to use the area “responsibly” and encouraged pedestrians to be “aware” of oncoming bikes.

She said: “Both pedestrians and cyclists need to understand the promenade is a shared space that must be used responsibly.”

“With that being said, cyclists need to be especially careful around this time of the year with so many people out enjoying the weather and be sure to monitor their speed.

“I don’t think introducing a specific cycle path is a solution to the problem. There isn’t really the space to have that volume of people and a cycle lane in the same area. It has to be down to the individual to be aware.”

Ian Maxwell, of city cycling group Spokes, said: “It is unfortunate and regrettable to hear this incident has taken place.”

“As a general rule, cyclists take the safety of people on the promenade seriously and the behaviour of one cyclist should not be taken as that of others.”