Wednesday, 16 April 2014

So many cyclists

I've taken to cycling the nine miles uphill, often into a south-westerly headwind, to work to increase my levels of fitness a bit further and because I enjoy it. This morning I got caught in a pelaton going through Fountainbridge. There were four/five of us, and it actually got quite hairy at times, with us jockeying for space in the advanced stop zones, and then weaving in and out of each other based on our different rates of acceleration and then speed, while we all cycled defensively to protect ourselves from cars doing stupid things. And then going along Gorgie Road I ended up bunny-hopping with another cyclist. We ended up nearly crashing as I went to overtake as he was getting ready to turn right. Luckily I realised what was happening and eased back behind him.

Have these near-misses with other cyclists is becoming a bit of an issue in Edinburgh. And it's because of the fantastic news that Edinburgh far surpasses other cities in Scotland with 4.8% of journeys to work being done by bike since 2011.  The constant increases reported by the Spokes traffic count data, and my own anecdotal experience, suggest the numbers cycling have increased massively since 2011 even. I see cyclists during every trip I make across the city, by whatever means, these days.

However, this increase, and the increased risks of collisions between cyclists, and between cyclists and cars is just crying out for us to Go Dutch/Copenhagenize. I'll give the council their due, they are investing record amounts. We are going to get widespread 20mph limits across the city (although they need a complete change in driving culture and attitude to be successful). But we now need to see bold decisions to take space on our roads away from motorised traffic and give it to pedestrians and cyclists. The network of paths on old railway lines in north Edinburgh is great to use at slow speed, and if you need to go to places along them. But I've had too many near-misses with dogs and pedestrians, including one very nasty accident that severely injured me, on shared paths, so I now avoid using them as much as possible. However, it depresses me that I can watch Gorgie Road be resurfaced and returned to exactly how it was - a series of parking bays linked by non-segregated cycle paths - which basically means every journey I have to cycle at 20mph out in the middle of the road. I still have to have three-month battles with the Council to sort out problems like this. The inner tube map of segregated cycle paths basically does not include the city centre as you basically take your life into your own hands traversing roads like the urban motorway that the Council have allowed Queen Street to become. 

We live in a cycling city. Can we have the infrastructure to match it now please?

And in other news, I was nearly knocked down by a car yesterday evening crossing Henderson Street as a pedestrian here, but that's another story.

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