Concerned citizens despair as £650,000 scheme fills with parked vehicles
Marginal improvements no compensation for huge failure of ambition
Edinburgh’s much-publicised “Quality Bike Corridor” launched to minor fanfare recently (although as both ends of the route are currently building sites, someone must have become bored with the wait).
95% of the route has been complete for the last few months, of course, giving cyclists and drivers alike plenty of time to acclimatise to “business as usual”, aka “cycle lanes have been painted underneath parked vehicles”.
I felt it would be unfair to lambaste the scheme before it even officially launched, so I went out after the ceremony to capture footage of my fellow cyclists and I attempting to use the QBC.
Incidentally, if you’re interested in getting a camera yourself, I’m using (and can highly recommend) this compact HD video camera by Contour.
If you don’t like seeing footage of cycle lanes full of stationary vehicles, look away now:
As ever, click on the cog for HD video quality.
I particularly like the near-dooring at 00:45 and the Bonaly Dairies Dangerous Deliveries section around 02:10 (the driver has never forgiven me for interrupting him screaming threats at a hapless traffic warden).
But let’s not discriminate – from King’s Buildings in the south to Potterrow in the north, everyone’s at it:
- Outside the Hotel Missoni, Lothian buses race with trucks and angry commuters to cut across the cycle lane
- Forrest Road: vehicles double parked all over the cycle lane, not a street for the faint-hearted.
- outside the mosque, cyclists are pinched between traffic islands and vehicles parked all over the cycle lane…
- just north of Summerhall at Gifford Park, a horrendous pinch point where it is frankly miraculous that no-one has lost their life. For northbound cyclists, a token cycle lane has been built to service the parking needs of vans diving in and out to the snack bar..
- the dodgy approach to Melville drive from the south has been improved with the loss of one vehicle lane northbound (this gives a bit more space to the few aggressive cyclists who haven’t already been intimidated onto the pavement).
- Someone missed out Causewayside southbound from the plans altogether, meaning no cyclist-friendly intervention whatsoever has been made on the critical middle mile of the route.
- Northbound, a generous cycle lane has been built to service parking needs for the chemist, locksmith, snack bars, Bonaly Dairy’s dangerous delivery driver, the paint shop, more snack bars, and the supermarket. One very short section of permanent parking has been circumvented by a built-out cycle lane. Yes, it’s a real winner… until you get to the huge lorries outside Tesco.
- The very wide Mayfield Rd has been painted with cycle lanes that are only lightly used for parking outside the interminable B&Bs.
- Further south by the strange junction with West Saville Terrace (the 40mph street in the 20mph zone), there is another built-out lane around parking, which is a small improvement.
- let this not suggest that vehicles aren’t left littered all over the lanes between these hot-spots, because they are in plentiful supply!
On top of this dis-a-a-a-ster, the word is now out that Leith Walk (soon to be the subject of a multi-million pound redesign) will have no segregated cycle facilities despite widespread public support.
The extremely wide boulevard to the north-east of the city centre, for which multiple segregated designs were produced by expert Dutch architects, is currently a virtual no-go for cyclists due to highly dangerous multi-lane roundabouts and aggressive lane switching.
So much for a model cycling city!
Since someone is bound to ask how I would have made a real Quality Bike Corridor, the answer is simple: close the whole corridor to southbound traffic, making it one way northbound with the use of a small number of bollards at each junction. Simple, immediate, easily reversable, and extremely cheap.
As we’ve seen with closures of the Mound, Princes St, Queen St, Leith Walk, and so many other (much bigger) boulevards, traffic would cope quite happily after a short period of adjustment.
The only real casualty would be the lonesome bus service that would then have to divert 30 seconds east onto Minto Street. But that’s the problem with trying to make an omelette – you’ve just got to break some eggs.