It's perhaps telling that cycle streets definitely doesn't recommend the route that I used (my route is shown ikn red below), even though it has the most/best cycle specific infrastructure on it, as well as the most direct route. It's a mile and a quarter through a vibrant shopping area with high pedestrian footfall, a bus station, a train station and a tram route, surrounded by parks and historic sights. You'd think we want to make this a pleasant journey? Even encourage people into the city centre?
As you can see I went for the most direct route, which is also along the best cycle infrastructure - in theory. What I did was to head from Lothian Road onto the new George Street cycle lane -- requiring crossing tram tracks at speed and then changing lanes. This would be okay if it was clear what to do, but I was frantically trying to figure it out. The cars and buses were surprisingly patient - probably because of my stoker - or because they didn't know where to go either. I've speeded this video up a bit too much at 16x, but that means its only 15 seconds long.
Once on the George Street lanes, it was fairly smooth sailing - once the furniture was moved. the first couple of crossings are fine, then there's the slightly odd roundabout thing where we switch from one side of the road to the other - basically okay if the traffic's light, but I was at least expecting that. can't imagine cycling that blind. And finally, the cycle-specific lights. Fine as far as they go, but quite a long wait?
Finally however, we get to what I consider the coup-de-grace -- we are directed onto the pavement (I think) then around the north side of St Andrew's square (I think), then onto some more pavement, then across the tram tracks (oddly there is a bike light suggesting the crossing is a toucan, but with railings on the island, I'd recommend walking), then down Queen street, which is 4 lanes + trams, I think, then across the tram tracks again...
Not my idea of fun. On that ride, and the return leg a couple of hours later, I saw precisely 2 cyclists. Unlike others, I had no issues with cars driving or parked on the lane. and the pedestrians were pretty polite too - if a bit baffled by it all.
So, should I be being more positive about it? Grateful that the council is thinking out of the box? Happy that they're taking segregation seriously? Today's local paper quoted me as saying ""'It’s an attempt 2 balance so many different interests, but it’s not suited any of them' . You can read the rest of the story here. It also sparked a polite debate on our cycle forum.
I really wish I could be more positive and see it as a 'start', but I can't. The George St lanes serve no purpose at all in making the city centre more cyclable. Those who are more optimistic may hope that this first step convinces the local businesses that they can still function - thrive even - on a pedestrianised road, or next to cycle lanes. If that is the outcome then it will be positive. But I don't think we should pretend that what has been created is some sort of cycle infrastructure, because it clearly isn't.