For the first time all year(!) I took a ride to Edinburgh on the train today to see a bit of the festival along with my family and friends. In theory I was getting a train between two capitals of cycling, at least if you follow the lines of governments in both England and London.
And yet, I did not bring my bike. This was not a ride of my bike but a ride on the bus. Here’s a few photos to show why. The greatest change in Edinburgh since I left 11 years ago has been the addition of trams. As local signage notes, they are a sizeable hazard. You can see the first person I saw cycling in the ASL.
Imagine waiting in the ASL above that you can see above. Below, imagine picking a position either in this lane (the only ahead lane but headed straight for the tracks) or picking a space in the lane alongside to try and squeeze a safe line beside the tram tracks. As I’ve noted in Croydon, cycling around tram tracks is a real concern.
In adding the tram to Edinburgh’s streets a restriction has been made on these streets so that they are mainly carrying through trams, buses, taxis and cycles only. Yet it is hard to see even a foot of dedicated space for cycling anywhere. Still, here’s a second person on a bike.
This is all recent. That last photo is from a bus at a stop. To overtake the bus you have to move over towards the tram tracks, close to the line of that taxi. Perhaps it is fortunate that levels of cycling remain low.
The junction where the route to my parents and the bus route home diverge (Haymarket) is so awful I’ll return to it in another post. It was still the first place I saw someone cycling though for the sake of (most likely) convenience and safety they used a contraflow bus lane cycles are not permitted to use.
Further out the road leaves the tram tracks far behind but expands to a comfortable four lanes in width with one narrowing for a railway bridge. In this area I started to see more people cycling, children even. But both of the children I saw cycling were on the pavement, in the second case accompanied by a parent, these two were the sixth and seventh people on bikes I saw by about mile four.
This is highly understandable when you realise that some of the traffic on these roads are very heavy goods vehicles, on a 30mph road.
Then comes the section of road that still makes me wonder at my younger self. This is a four lane road, with a 40mph limit. This was my daily commute into and out of town from my parents by bike. It seemed a lot more inviting than it looks. But remember that this road saw one of the few fatalities for a person cycling in Edinburgh in recent memory in 2012. This is close to the site of the incident. As you can see there is frequent parking and rather tight and obscured bends. This road is 40mph and set to stay so even as roads closer to town move from 30mph to 20mph.
The danger I remember growing up was the crossroads on the entry to my village.
Some pavements here are amazingly narrow. And for some reason some utilities works have provided an inexplicable red strip leading into a red surfaced ASL (all faded now). After this junction the road returns to a gentler single lane in each direction approach and a mere 30mph as it winds through several busy villages.
But now I’m home, and sipping tea. I asked dad how many people on bikes he thought I’d seen. 12? 20? He guessed. He wasn’t close but even he had the right order of magnitude. Eight was my total, provided I included someone I’d seen up on the viaduct for the canal. If Edinburgh as a whole is to become a real city for cycling it has a long, long way to go, though it must be said some of those off-road routes can be rather capable. Alas, I’m crap with heights so I’m not a fan of that viaduct!