As a cyclist myself, I would not dispute that two-wheeled travel around town can be unpleasant. Cars are everywhere and the roads are shabby. But putting cycle tracks on arterial routes is most definitely not the best solution.
The council wants to have a “network of quiet routes which aim to provide a pleasant and welcoming environment for all users”. This laudable ambition is exactly why National Cycle Route 1 was created, to get cyclists to the heart of the city without going near a main road. The route, by Balbirnie Place and Haymarket Yards, is a perfect fit for the job, but cycling officers chose to deny its existence on their consultation maps for the new Roseburn to Leith Walk cycleway.
The real reason for the new track seems to be making a public statement that bikes own the roads. The cycling officers would want that, but is it best for everyone else?
The council claims the cycle track will reduce congestion. But the evidence points to the opposite, as four lanes of traffic are squeezed into two around West Coates.
Won’t the health benefits be cancelled out by the increased pollution arising from the traffic logjam caused by the track? Roseburn Terrace leads onto St John’s Road, the most polluted street in Scotland. If the track goes ahead, anyone cycling between Haymarket and Drumbrae best don a gas mask.
Cycling officers need to promote what’s already there. NCR1 ties in neatly with the route that many cyclists take into the city.
But Spokes want a faster route into town along the A8, so their lycra-clad warriors can barrel down their pothole-free track at 30mph — and woe betide any elderly person crossing the track on their way to the “floating” bus stops. Getting into town by bus will never have been slower.
And who will use the track? Most of the shops will have closed. With all parking removed and replaced with double red lines, the chance of traders surviving is zero.
So we must all be wondering — has the council declared war on the car?
As a cyclist I agree there are too many cars on Edinburgh’s streets. But my solution is not to create more congestion. My solution is to use the extra cash for cycling to fix dangerous cycling black spots. My solution is to help cyclists get safely across busy roads to cycle routes, and to create cycle lanes on connecting streets like Russell Road to save us from the bin lorries. And my biggest solution is to fix the potholes that are everywhere in this degenerating city.
That would make everyone’s journeys more pleasant, whether they go by bus, taxi, car or bike.
• Pete Gregson organised the petition against the West Coates cycle track; he lives at Riversdale, has two kids, a car and a bike. His website is at www.kidsnotsuits.co.uk