Leader: Council needs to aid cyclists

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IT is hardly surprising to hear cyclists getting het up about the way in which the new cycle path through the Southside has been 
hijacked by motorists looking for free parking.

What would be frustrating at the best of times is ten times worse because of the high hopes that are riding on this latest route along Buccleuch Street. This £1.25 million stretch opens up a fantastic off-road cycle route right across the city which has the potential to encourage so many more people to get on their bike perhaps for their daily commute or just for pleasure.

The benefits of encouraging cycling are well established, from its potential to take cars off our traffic-clogged roads to helping make us fitter, ultimately easing the strain on our health service. But clearly we are not going to get the best out of this new route if it is allowed to become an expensive taxpayer-funded car park.

Quick action is needed to stop it becoming an adopted stopping zone for motorists. The council needs to get bollards and signs up as quickly as possible.

It would be wrong, as well as unenforceable, to start blitzing motorists with parking tickets at this stage. Once the path has been clearly signposted it is an entirely different matter. Selfish motorists breaking the rules then deserve all they get.

But right now how are they supposed to know that this is a cycle path? It looks for all the world like a taxi rank with a dropped kerb that might have been put there to let motor vehicles drive in. There are not enough segregated cycle paths yet in the Capital to make it instantly recognisable to many using the area in car or on foot.

For now, one of the jobs the city has to do, alongside building new cycle paths, is to promote a change in culture on our roads. We need to move to a position where motorists and pedestrians realise immediately what routes like this are for and respect the rights of 
cyclists using it.