National Cycle Route 1: Not In My Back Yard?
It’s a regular feature of the cycling calendar in Edinburgh: I’m not talking about Pedal for Scotland, but an article in the Edinburgh Evening News prompted by the “concerns” of “Cramond residents”, generally one Alistair McEwan (with or without reinforcements).
October 2011 saw cyclists “urged to take a brake after third accident within month”, prominently featuring a photograph of the eminent Mr McEwan, looking concerned against a background of young people cycling contentedly on the quiet road:
September 2012 sees “calls for cyclists to be re-routed amid pedal worries”, this time featuring a photograph of Mr McEwan flanked by a couple of his fellow “concerned residents”, and a somewhat bemused looking member of the public trying to make use of the public highway:
The stretch of road causing such concern is a quiet street which is a dead-end for motor vehicles but a through route for cycles, due to the bollards pictured above.
It’s the only alternative to the deadly A90 dual carriageway (in fact, cyclists are legally banned from the A90 from just next to Cramond Bridge westbound) and thus almost the only route for members of the general public who are travelling in and out of north-west Edinburgh by bike.
Here’s the A90 dual-carriageway:
And here’s the “dangerous” NCN1 that is causing local residents such concern:
Hmm yep – you can see why cyclists are at such risk here, can’t you?
Is it dangerous?
Despite residents’ loud “concerns”, objectively this section of NCN1 has all the ingredients for a perfect cycle route: very low traffic volume, a useable road surface, no real issues with sun in the eyes or overgrown vegetation. There’s a modest gradient at either end, but nothing like what you’d find in hillier parts of Edinburgh, and so the speed of cyclists is certainly much lower than you’ll see routinely in town.
The road is also quite wide – enough for two cars to pass more or less the entire length, certainly enough for a huge volume of cyclists to pass without issue.
According to the accident data on Leveness, for instance, the route of the new Quality Bike Corridor has 3x as many serious injuries and 28x as many slight injuries, while Leith Walk has 6x as many serious injuries and up to 44x as many slight injuries as the whole length of NCN1 between Cramond and town.
Within a couple of hundred yards radius in Newington you can see a fatality, 8-9x as many serious injuries and around 20x as many minor injuries as on NCN1 between Cramond and town.
Where are the concerned residents of these streets, we wonder?
If you actually bother clicking on the images to read either of the linked articles you probably won’t be surprised by what you find.
For instance, in October 2011 the safety of cyclists is carefully conflated with the private interests of residents – we hear that there have been four “nasty” accidents, “each one caused by the excessive speed of the cyclist concerned” (at least one was actually caused by a pothole, he goes on to reveal – clearly none of the four cyclists had a decent libel lawyer).
Despite concerns that “ambulance resources are being used up”, in the year since the article was published there don’t seem to have been any incidents worthy of the name, despite a soaring number of cyclists on the commuter corridor.
Fast forward to today though and the Pedal for Scotland ride provides the perfect cover for some more “local concern”. This time though the article gets a bit wierd, with claims that thousands of cyclists will be “speeding” (again, after commuting on this road for several years, I find this hard to believe).
We hear there have been “a number of serious accidents” (but none in the last year on this busy route, and perhaps only three or four *ever*).
As a commuter on this route for several years, I’d say the two most pressing safety issues are the dog which runs loose on the road trying to chase cyclists, and the way that some of the “concerned residents” behave themselves: for instance, it wouldn’t be that unusual to find a group of pedestrians violating the Highway Code hiding just around a blind bend in a line abreast, with or without dogs running loose.
Especially as there are only a small number of residents, it’s tempting to suggest they do themselves a favour and learn (and obey) the Highway Code for pedestrians before fretting over the percieved failings of cyclists, I say!
I wonder what we’ll be reading about this time next year?
Tune back in 2013 to find out!
Just wanted to add to this report the exclusive (if not astonishing) update that all ~7,500 participants in the Pedal for Scotland were seen to be “speeding” through this section of NCN1 last Saturday and nothing newsworthy came of it…