Dismay as drivers park in new Edinburgh cycle lanes

Cars parked in the Buccleuch Street cycle lane. Picture: Scott Taylor
Cars parked in the Buccleuch Street cycle lane. Picture: Scott Taylor
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The difficult relationship between cyclists and drivers on the Capital’s roads is often described as a war.

In which case, the four-wheeled army has stormed the enemy’s keep, spiked its guns and run up the banner of 
victory.

There’s going to have to be a bit of learning on the part of Edinburgh drivers

Sara Dorman

Just weeks after the city’s first roadside segregated cycle paths were completed at Buccleuch Street and St Leonard’s Street, cars have taken to parking on the freshly laid surface – to the rage of cyclists.

The short stretches of cycle path are the cornerstone of Edinburgh’s cycling strategy, providing the “missing link” to the £1.25 million route between the Union Canal and the Innocent Railway path and allowing cyclists to cross the city without leaving a segregated route.

Cycling campaigners warned that the investment – creating one of two key segregated cycle corridors which are receiving the lion’s share of the city’s cycling budget – would be wasted if riders were discouraged from using paths dotted with parked cars.

However, parking attendants are powerless to keep the routes clear because restriction signs have been removed during construction, meaning fines can’t legally be issued.

Signage will be returned when the paths are officially unveiled next month, but that hasn’t quelled the fury of two-wheeled travellers, who say it is just another example of selfish drivers hogging the road.

Council staff will now lay down “keep clear” traffic cones in an effort to discourage drivers from treating the cycle lane like a free car park.

Businesses have also been taking advantage, with Buccleuch Street cafe Snax seen parking its van on the path. The firm declined to comment.

Angry cyclists took to social media to vent their outrage, posting pictures of cars clogging the new cycle paths.

Caroline Brown asked on Twitter: “Is this a nearly finished segregated cycle path, or a new car park? #ohdear”

And user Edinburgh Bike Cam posted: “Segregated bike lane (Buccleuch St) not even completed yet & cars parked in it. City council, will you be enforcing?”

The tweets caught the attention of city transport leader Lesley Hinds, who raised the prospect of bollards being installed if drivers didn’t fall into line.

She replied: “Reported and I hope bollards put out quickly. One parks and they all follow!”

Cyclist Sara Dorman, who helped found the Pedal on Parliament campaign, said it should be “fairly obvious” to drivers that the space was a cycle route.

She said: “It’s disappointing, and it raises concerns that drivers think they can use it as parking space. It should be fairly obvious what it is, and most people will be considerate enough not to park on it.

“There will always be some chancers though, just like some people will always park on pavements, and those people require some sort of enforcement.

“It’s an incredibly important link. Once that bit of the network is finished, it will be possible to cycle from the bypass in the west all the way to Portobello safely, almost entirely off-road.

“There’s going to have to be a bit of learning on the part of Edinburgh drivers that this is what a modern city looks like.”

She added: “This certainly won’t encourage people to use it. What we want is families and people who aren’t as comfortable cycling to see it as a way to get to some of the paths out of the city.

“If their way is blocked when they first use it, then all the investment the council has put into it will be for naught.”

A council spokesperson said: “While the cycle route improvements are not due for completion until the end of June drivers should not be parking on it, and the council will be placing ‘no waiting’ cones along the cycleway to discourage this.

“Should the problem persist we will take further action.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com

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