Cycling rise sees Edinburgh journey numbers treble

Spokes board member Ian Maxwell has welcomed the massive rise in people choosing healthy means to get around the Capital. Picture: Julie Bull
Spokes board member Ian Maxwell has welcomed the massive rise in people choosing healthy means to get around the Capital. Picture: Julie Bull
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THE cycling revolution has led to bike journeys at hot spots in the Lothians more than trebling in recent years, a new report has shown.

Figures released by sustainable transport charity Sustrans today has shown the annual number of cyclists and walkers using a range of paths in the Lothians shot up last year.

Automatic counters found that the number of cyclists and walkers using a dedicated path in Seton Sands, East Lothian, soared from 31,866 in 2008 to 132,415 last year.

User numbers for a cycle path in Bathgate rose from 49,067 in 2004 to 162,973 by 2012. At Musselburgh’s Goose Green numbers rose from 35,358 in 2011 to 85,167 last year. And a traffic-free section of path in West Granton hit a record peak of more than 900 cyclists a day on weekdays last summer – 50 per cent up on the same period in 2011.

The only anomaly in the results was at the Rodney Street ­tunnel in Bonnington, where the annual number of cyclists and walkers dipped by almost 20,000 in the space of three years.

All the locations are part of the National Cycle Network (NCN). And the overall boom was recorded in a year where a record number of people used the network in Scotland, with more than 62 million trips walked or cycled in 2012.

Ian Maxwell, from cycle campaign group Spokes, said: “It’s all part of this cycling revolution in Scotland. We are seeing a really spectacular change and this is just one of the ways showing there are far more cyclists on the streets and there are also far more cyclists using off-road paths. That’s really to be welcomed.”

The Sustrans report also revealed the percentage of pupils cycling to school every day had increased from 3.1 per cent in 2011-12 to 5.2 per cent following the launch of the “I Bike” scheme.

The programme involved visits to schools to encourage pupils to take up cycling. The percentage of students regularly riding to school ­similarly climbed 12.2 per cent to 18.1 per cent across the same period.

Sustrans Scotland national director John Lauder said: “When you provide safe walking and cycling routes they attract large numbers of users, helping more people live healthy active lives by ditching the car for short journeys like popping to the shops or commuting to work.”

New digital display counters were installed at three locations across Edinburgh in August to gather up to eight months worth’ of research.

A workplace travel survey will also be carried out in the Capital to get results on travel modes, journey times and ­distance.

City transport vice-convener Councillor Jim Orr said the soaring numbers confirmed Edinburgh’s reputation as the active travel Capital of ­Scotland.

He said: “This is why Edinburgh had the opportunity to host the first ever cycling summit. We’re very proud to be the leading city in the country.

“We’re continuing to invest heavily in cycling in Edinburgh at six per cent of the transport budget. We’re trying to remind people cycling is a fun, healthy, convenient and economical way to get around town.”

Figures show the expansion

Combined number of pedestrians/cyclists recorded at National Cycle Network sites.

• Seton Sands, East Lothian

Rural traffic-free route

2008: 31,866

2012: 132,415

• Bathgate, West Lothian

Rural traffic-free route

2004: 49,067

2012: 162,973

• Goose Green, Musselburgh

Urban traffic-free route

2011: 35,358

2012: 85,167

• Rodney Street tunnel, Bonnington

Urban traffic-free route

2009: 464,687

2012: 445,779

• Bells Burn Path, Linlithgow

Urban traffic-free route

2011: 103,751

2012: 105,668