Edinburgh bike commuting hits new high

MORE people than ever before are commuting by bike in the Capital, new figures have revealed.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 5:35 am
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2016, 7:07 am
Cyclists on Lothian Road. Picture: Toby Williams
Cyclists on Lothian Road. Picture: Toby Williams

One in four vehicles heading into the city centre on Tuesday morning was being pedalled, according to cycling campaign group Spokes.

They counted traffic between 8-9am on Forrest Road and found that 26.1 per cent of vehicles were bikes.

A separate team stationed in Lothian Road at the same time said cyclists accounted for 22.7 per cent of road users.

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Spokes said it had counted more than 500 bikes on the routes for the first time since the surveys started 11 years ago.

Car numbers have declined from 1995 to 1617 since then, and from 1663 last May, but nearly eight out of ten had only one occupant.

Spokes praised the city council for the results.

Its spokesman said: “This is a big success for the council, which has a bold local transport strategy target to cut car use from 43 per cent of all trips in 2010 to just 31 per cent in 2020.

“The long-term trend of cycling up significantly and car commuting down also ties in with trends in the 2011 census.”

Figures from the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency showed 11.8 per cent of commuting trips in Edinburgh were by bike in 2014 – the country’s highest. However, Spokes said the local authority still had much more to do.

Its spokesman said: “The council should take every advantage of its success to speed up its plans to boost cycling and it should think again about its inexplicable proposal to allow motor traffic to use all bus lanes off-peak and to scrap Saturday bus lanes altogether.”

The campaign group also condemned the high proportion of drivers travelling alone as a “huge waste of precious road space in the heart of the city”.

It said segregated cycle lanes on “scary” Lothian Road would further boost cycling.

The spokesman said: “The level and growth of cycling demand, and the falling motor traffic, surely cry out for segregated cycling provision on this relatively wide, but scary, city-centre road.

“There are few roads in the city which would benefit so strongly from such a scheme and, as shown by the London [cycle] superhighways, 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.”

Council transport leader Lesley Hinds said: “The results are extremely heartening for the council, which is committed to increasing cycling across the city, and demonstrate the value of our many schemes to improve cycling provision and increase its take-up amongst all residents.

“By increasing the cycling budget year-on-year, we recognise the environmental, health and social benefits offered by cycling over travel by car.

“However, while these results are positive, there is clearly still work to be done to encourage travel by bike, foot or public transport.”