Overspend Hits Cyclists

Posted by chdot on February 1, 2007

cycling against the traffic A90
Heading home to Fife right next to oncoming cars

The recently created ‘transport authority’ for south east Scotland (SESTran) has disproportionately cut back planned spending on cycle facilities in the coming financial year.

As pointed out by Spokes in the current Spokesworker (download PDF 169kb) the amount involved for cycle projects has been “massacred from £610K to a mere £100K in 07/08”. Why the overspend wasn’t equally spread across all budgets isn’t clear. Perhaps someone decided that motorists are more important or maybe they complain more loudly…

Much of the money was destined for cross (council) borders routes. One ideal, and long overdue, candidate is the A90 route. From Edinburgh to the Forth Road Bridge (and on to Fife).

A few years ago it was decided that the A90 was ‘too dangerous for cyclists’ and they were (and still are) banned. This was in spite of much lobbying by cycle interests. Some objected to bikes being banned from main roads (they are also banned from the City Bypass) but all objectors were insistent that a ‘suitable alternative’ should be provided. (They are still waiting.)

In spite of the route being part of NCN Route 76 (and 1) the route is dreadful – especially between Cramond and Dalmeny. Paul Arbuckle regularly commutes from Rosyth to The Gyle (about 12 miles). He says “I am a keen cyclist and the distance between my home and work is to me an ideal distance to commute by bicycle.” He is one of a number of people who have written to SESTRAN Chair, Cllr Russell Imrie, c/o Midlothian Council, Buccleuch St, Dalkeith EH22 1DJ (e-mail) with his views. On the path next to the A90 (see photo) he says –

“I would describe it as extremely dangerous and unsuitable for bike use. In places it is approximately one metre wide, which means if you meet someone travelling in the opposite direction you need to stop. The surface is very bumpy and slippery and constantly strewn with debris, and worst of all due to its sunken level, when cycling down the hill northbound, the cycling eye-level is at the same level as car headlights travelling in the opposite direction. This added to the fact that there is no lighting along the pathway means that you simply cannot see what’s in front of you.”

He also copied his letter to City of Edinburgh Council Leader Ewan Aitken and adds – “I find it ridiculous that for a city of Edinburgh’s size, this is the only route open to cyclists from the North of getting into the city. We are constantly told of concerns about Edinburgh’s air pollution and the damage that the volume of traffic travelling into Edinburgh is doing to the capital.”

“Cycling is, as I’m sure you are aware, benficial to the city, the environment and of course the cyclist, and yet to me there seems to be an abject lack of provision for those who wish to take advantage of the benefits of a cycling commute. I know there are plans afoot to put in place more sustainable transport options within the city centre, such as trams, but that does nothing for your cycling (or potential cycling) public. Nor does it do anything to promote cycling as an attractive or even viable alternative to motorists.”

Another Fife based commuter says that over the past year he has e-mailed his MP, SUSTRANS repeatedly, Edinburgh Council repeatedly and commented on the issue in his response to the SEStran questionnaire. “They all claim to be sympathetic yet no one is willing to address the issue other than in general platitudes.”

He concludes “I’m at my wits end with the whole thing.” Of course that was before the latest postponement of spending on much needed facilities to improve the lives of existing cyclists and allow those ‘who would like to, but…’

5 Responses to “Overspend Hits Cyclists”

  1. Tony Grant said

    Ever since this route was ‘upgraded’ as part of the bus priority scheme, Sustrans has been lobbying CEC to improve it. It was only with our intervention that it was even surfaced and the few wider bits were put in at our request. We objected to the cyclist ban on the A90 on the grounds that the alternative route was not fit for purpose and requested that a safety audit be produced. We have never seen this. We have had the A90 cycleway as an almost standing item on the CEC Cycle Forum agenda since 2000. All to no avail. CEC has consistently continued to find one excuse after the other to ignore this problem.

  2. Fife based commuter said

    I did initally think SUSTRANS were partly responsible for the inaction regarding this A90 route, but I’m now satisfied that SUSTRANS have done what they can to lobby for change, and responsibility lies solely with Edinburgh Council and SESTran. These organisations have no shame whatsoever. It’s a total disgrace.

  3. […] SEStran is also responsible for a range of cycle infrastructure projects. It was heavily criticised recently for dealing with an ‘overspend problem’ by taking money, disproportionately, away from cycling. […]

  4. Fife based cyclist said

    There is no doubt that more could be done to improve the cycle route into Edinburgh but once again cyclists seem to have no political clout and so we can be fobbed off with any old rot. The situation is just as bad in Fife, the coastal path (a core cycle route) is simply too dangerous to cycle between Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy forcing you to use the busy main road. Check it out, it’s scary (either route).

  5. […] Earlier this year SEStran (South East of Scotland Transport Partnership) faced a budget deficit (CE.i report). In the words of Spokes in the 06 01 07 Spokesworker (PDF 169kb) the amount involved for cycle […]

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