The Edinburgh City Council have made a tentative start on closing roads and creating more space for walking, cycling, and socially distanced exercise. So far, there are three closed roads; Silverknowes Road, a section of Braid Road, and a section of Links Gardens. The backlash, mainly from or driven by Tory councillors it has to be said, has been quite ridiculous, but then we expect nothing else.
Of course, the obvious solution to this is very simple, cheap, and effective but the council don’t seem to listen to the actual road users. If they closed ONE lane of all the TWO lane roads across the city, just cone it off and make it for exercise and active travel, then they wouldn’t impede traffic flow, would add immense amounts of cross city access for active travel, do it very cheaply and quickly (it’s just road cones and a few signs after all). This would enable a whole network of routes to open up, which would alleviate some of the problems with the shared access paths such as pinch points and popularity. It would safely allow cyclists away from pedestrians and leave the current share paths to those wishing to take a walk or less able bodied access. It would also speed journey times for essential workers, especially as these dual carriageways access the hospitals and most of the supermarkets.
But they don’t listen to logic.
The Silverknowes closure is the longest, and leads down to the sea and the very wide path along the Cramond section of the sea front. It is perfect for just getting exercise, as it doesn’t go anywhere you can’t go on a cycle path anyway, but it is a positive contribution of everyone being able to get out and take in some fresh air. This is the route I chose on Sunday 3rd May so see what all the fuss was about. A 60second film of the ride is here.
The pinch points still exist, as you’ll see in the film, where the cycle route takes is what is basically an alley between two rows of houses, and one of the roads has a surface and pot holes so bad the vibrations actually reorientated my camera, but still, we have progress and any progress is to be celebrated.
You know what? It was utter bliss! Once you got to the road closure of course, then it was spacious and friendly, and safe. Most of all, it felt SAFE. You could cycle without the constant worry you were going to be knocked off, close passed, or abused. This was what cycling in the city should be, just a shame it’s not really in the city and doesn’t really go anywhere. That doesn’t matter right now, because it’s for exercising, but when we do start to move to the next phase I hope we will see more ambitious action from the Council to get more of Edinburgh accessible by active travel.