01 October 2014

Step Change?

Yesterday I had to make my way from my office near the Meadows to a meeting near Haymarket.
Amazingly, I realised that not only can I get most of the way there using off-road paths, but if current proposals go through, I will be able to ride 99% of it off road in a couple of years.

The current route, in case you're wondering goes - NMW-Tarvit Street-Gilmore Place-Leamington Lift Bridge - Toucan crossing - Shared use path - toucan across the Western Approach - shared use path through to Dalry colonies - Dalry rd  (link here)

map from cyclestreets

Under the proposals currently under consideration, there will be segregated paths, toucan crossings, and two cul-de-sacs linking the Meadows to the Canal.

I am convinced that the proposals being consulted on reflect a step change in the city's cycling provision.  I have a vague recollection that at some point there had been talk about 'shared pavements' being involved.  But when the first phase of consultation with stakeholders occurred, there was no mention of it at all.  All the options under consideration involved segregation.  Clearly lessons were learned from the Meadows to Innocent process,  where proposals for shared use pavements were revised.

The Canal-to-Meadows consultation - by far the best I have been involved in - asked the stakeholders to consider how best to implement the project aim - a cycle network - while balancing the competing demands of pedestrians, local residents, shops, and bus users.

Some of you will remember this intersection from this blog and perhaps also that of Uberuce. It desperately needs improvement, and I'm pretty convinced that the current proposals go a long way to making it more family-friendly at least.  I'm even more hopeful that it may be part of a process of making the Tollcross area more pedestrian-friendly, and help local businesses,

And it won't just be useful to local folks -- it will enable safe, family-friendly cycling all the way from the city's western edge to Musselburgh.  Extraordinary really.

But cycling through yesterday also highlighted the limitations of the council's current approach.

The full route to Haymarket is bitty, and windy, and surprisingly hard to follow - despite having cycled it several times before in both directions (see also), I still missed a crucial turn.  It is not, and will never be speedy.  If it is ever widely used by cyclists, it will become entirely hostile for pedestrians.

If we're ever going to get 10% of trips made by bike, then we need this sort of segregated infrastructure, but once we get to that 10%, it will be over-capacity, and a substantial rethink will be required, along with another step change....

But, ever since I participated in the first stage of consultation for the Canal-Meadows link, I've been feeling quietly optimistic, not about cycling, but about the potential to make Edinburgh a more liveable city. This is only the first step, but it's a really important one.

(by the way, if you use the Canal-Meadows route, or might if it were safer, please do respond to the consultation - it's extremely short and very straightforward).

(Edited 5 October)

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