There is a little cycle ride I’ve been wanting to do ever since I moved to Edinburgh two years ago. It is a trip made pleasantly possible by the failure of transport infrastructure, well it’s a failure of roads infrastructure.
The world famous Forth Bridge actually refers to the rail bridge. This was opened in 1890, and made Scotland’s 6th UNESCO World Heritage site in July, 2015.
It still carries trains to this day, and is loved by Scots everywhere as a sign of our engineering prowess. More information can be found here.
As you look north from Edinburgh towards Fife, which you enter as soon as you cross the bridge, it is the red one on the right most of the three.
The left most one is the new Queensferry Crossing; opened in August 2017, the bridge takes all the traffic that was on the original road bridge except for buses, taxis, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles, which are still permitted on the original road bridge. The new crossing was built because of the potential structural failures of the existing bridge. Sadly, it didn’t increase capacity, much to the annoyance of those who have to use it in the rush hour, as it was a like for like two lanes each way construction.
The Forth Road Bridge as it is still called is not only open to cyclists but makes a lovely quiet crossing away from the hustle and bustle. In fact, pedestrians and cyclists cannot use the new bridge. They were left out of the design completely (rolls eyes).
The Forth Road Bridge was originally a toll crossing, whereby drivers would pay to cross the bridge instead of making the longer diversions. This wasn’t popular, although at one point it did provide employment in the toll booths I guess this was its only advantage.
It was completed in 1964, and finally became toll free in February, 2008.
I have been waiting for a calm day with a gentle breeze, but not much else, so as to make the crossing on my Brompton, and 1st June proved to be just the perfect day for it. It was warm and sunny with a light breeze after the haar burnt off the Forth.
The bridge forms part of National Cycle Route 1, and joins to the 76 as well. It is therefore quite popular with long distance cyclists as well as the locals. It also forms part of the Round the Forth cycle ride, and the Coast and Castles North long distance route.
As you approach the rise onto the bridge, which was gentler then I expected, there is a sign stating cyclists are limited to 15mph. Initially I thought; “chance would be a fine thing”, but on the downward side it was easy to make that speed. I have to confess that I had a burning urge to hit the 15mph on my Garmin just for the hell of it.
At the South Queensferry (or Edinburgh) side there is a viewing platform next to the offices for Traffic Scotland. There is a car park and toilets as well as plenty of places to admire the views of all three bridges. I believe that under normal circumstances (as in not Covid19 lockdown) there is a cafe there too.
There is also a monument to the opening of The Forth Road Bridge, which stands in front of the view of all three of the bridges: The Queensferry Crossing, The Forth Road Bridge, The Forth Bridge (L-R) as you can see in the photo.
I had really fabulous weather, and as it warmed up I was very grateful for the stop and the opportunity to have a drink of water, as well as a walk around in the sunshine before continuing.
You can view a video of my trip over the bridge and back on my Facebook page here.
There is a cycle counter on the Fife side, but I wasn’t sure it was working. If it was, then I was the 198th person to cross that day.
That wouldn’t have surprised me, it was busy with cyclists, but it was nice and there was lots of room to pass each other. I even got to overtake a few people, and that rarely happens on the Brompton.
(I’ll let you into a little secret – I haven’t stopped smiling about overtaking the roadies yet).
I didn’t enter North Queensferry on this occasion, but made my way back and then on to Kirkliston, to Newbridge, and back into Edinburgh past the airport as you can see from my map above. It had not been my intention to do this, but the weather was so superb I couldn’t resist. I also couldn’t resist avoiding the uphill sections I knew would greet me if I went back the way I had come back via Cramond.
The full journey was mainly on cycle routes which are shared paths, or on quiet roads, although the road into Kirkliston is very busy, and it’s also very busy coming out the other side until the junction with the A8 where you rejoin a cycle path. I am sure I am missing an easier route, but it is not signposted. This is the problem I find for new cyclists, and when you move to new areas, signage on the paths is great IF you can find your way onto them in the first place! It is as if the council assumes you know they are there. Spokes, the cycle campaign group in Edinburgh, produce a very good map, and Sustrans also make some fairly decent maps (although not well enough detailed, in my opinion) of the national and designated routes.
These are both very useful, but I would like to see more signs actually on the roads and paths showing cyclists where they can join and leave cycle routes, and where they will come out. It would be really helpful to new cyclists, or people new to the area.
People keep saying that Bromptons’ are for commuting, for short journeys, and that may be true, but they are also very capable bikes for many types of cycling as you’ll see if you decide to follow my blog.