The proposed West Coates Cycle Track has caused polarised views across the city.
The proposal: A new cycle lane providing a safe route into the city centre.
The proposal involves reducing four lanes of traffic to 2 from Roseburn to Haymarket. Critics of the plan say it would cause more congestion and pollution. Businesses fear that they would lose out due to lack of parking and problems with deliveries. Others are concerned that the plan involves removing crossing islands, making the road more hazardous to pedestrians. Commuters are concerned about the loss of a bus lane.
An alternative has been suggested, but involved cyclists having to cross tram lines.
All sides are represented in the debate and there are a number of competing interests. Cyclists vs Pedestrians. Business v Environment. Many of us fall into more than one group and it is disappointing that what is good for one group has a negative impact on others. All sides have equal claims.
The answer: Think bigger!
There is a historic trend throughout the UK to approach roads planning in a piecemeal fashion. The City of Edinburgh Council are considering a cycle lane. One cycle lane. There lies problem. Whilst they UK and Scottish Government are keen to promote cycling and walking and have piecemeal policies to do that there is no master plan. There is no comprehensive 10 year plan to redesign our transport system. The tram is one recent catastrophic disaster. The Council approved a tram line, with no assessment on the impact it would have on other road users, particularly cyclists. Why resign ourselves to adding a tram line or cycle lane to an existing network of roads which was designed often centuries ago. Many of our roads were designed for horse and cart. If the Council and Governments insist on this piecemeal approach to renovation we will be stuck in the last century forevermore.
We need to rethink and redesign, city by city, from the top down. We need a city that works for all users. The alteration of parts of existing roads to change the priority to one user group from another does not solve the problem. We need radical overhaul. City planners in each city should redesign the city from scratch and then implement a 10 year plan to achieve it.
Our dream for Edinburgh would be for a city where there is huge amounts of easily accessible underground parking around the city. A city with dedicated, raised, cycle lanes where cyclists can cycle in safety, away from traffic and pedestrians. Scandinavia manages this without any problem. Cyclists and busses have their own lanes and motorists are not impeded. We too can manage it if we have a plan. Businesses can have loading bays that do not cause disruption and ensure ease of supply. Pedestrians can have safe crossings.
It may take a while. It may take some hard graft; but we can have it all. Scotland can be a thought out network of cleverly restructured cities which serve all road users… if only we think bigger!