October 2014

Road maintenance cycling innovation

Edinburgh Council is to raise the priority for road resurfacing on roads important to cycling.   No other Council in Scotland – and possibly the UK – has built this in to their calculations of which roads most need resurfacing.

Have you ever wondered how the Council decides which roads to resurface, from a limited budget?  There is a complex formula, based on road condition and on type and amount of use (Neighbourhood Partnerships are then consulted, which may adjust the list slightly).

The formula gives a weighting to roads with bus lanes, in view of the Council’s Local Transport Strategy aims and targets to boost bus use – which of course benefits cyclists on roads with bus lanes.  Again it is thought that no other council in Scotland has an objective weighting system giving a priority even to resurfacing roads important to public transport.

Now, after persistent Spokes lobbying over several years [for example, this from 2010] a weighting is also being introduced for other roads important for cycling.   The decision is explained in this report to the 28.10.14 Transport Committee [disregard the yellow highlighting in the report].

Of course, identifying ‘roads important for cycling‘ objectively is not easy, which is one of several reasons why it has taken the council so long to agree to the weighting.  However, for this first year, the weighting will apply to all roads on the family network, and the council has promised to review this next year.  Incidentially all roads on the National Cycle Network (NCN) in Edinburgh area are included as they form part of the council’s Family Network.

For the future we’d also like all other roads with cycle lanes included, plus any others identified by the Council cycling team as particularly important for cycling.   We’d also like the weighting raised from its current 5% to at least 10% (which is the weighting used for roads with low bus use).

Even at 5%, however, the weighting has a useful effect, including

[Note – in some of these cases only bad stretches will be resurfaced]

  • Whitehouse Loan will be resurfaced in 15/16 instead of 18/19 or later
  • Rutland Square will be resurfaced in 16/17 instead of 18/19 or later
  • Hillview Terrace will be resurfaced in 15/16 instead of 17/18
  • Firrhill Drive will be resurfaced in 15/16 instead of 17/18
  • Lochend Road will be resurfaced in 15/16 instead of 17/18
  • Stenhouse Drive will be resurfaced in 17/8 instead of 18/19 or later

Of course, many other roads important to cycling will also be resurfaced in 15/16 as they score highly for other reasons – such extremely bad condition, bus use, etc (in addition to any cycle weighting).  Sections of London Road, St John’s Road, Westfield Road, South Gyle Road and many others are included for 15/16.   However the roads in the bullet points above are examples where resurfacing has been brought forward thanks to the cycle weighting.

Whilst many council decisions are very visible – such as a new cycle route or bike parking – the decision to introduce a cycle weighting is an example of the kind of ‘behind the scenes’ tweaking of procedures so that multiple policies work together to improve cycling conditions – a postive sign of cycling as a means of transport being taken increasingly seriously.   Another example being the Council’s training in cycle awareness of its HGV drivers [Spokes 119, page 6].


If you like this council decision…

  • Find your councillors at www.writetothem.com.
  • If you live in Edinburgh, congratulate them on this decision and ask for it to be reviewed and improved next year – for example as we suggest above.
  • If you live in a different council area, ask your councillors to copy Edinburgh’s example in giving a priority to roads important to cycling.  Most councils have policies to increase cycle use, and so such a prioritisation makes sense.


To avoid any confusion, please note that the above is about road resurfacing, or structural maintenance as it is sometimes called.   This is quite separate from the procedures for dealing with potholes as they appear – although obviously potholes can be a sign that a road is deteriorating.

Problems with potholes – and other defects of the road system – can be reported here or by phone to Clarence 0800 23 23 23 [weekdays, 8am-8pm] or in out-of-hours emergency, to 0131 200 2000 [ask for emergency roads service].

There is also a recent Evening News story on forthcoming developments in Council road maintenance – it rather mixes up the questions of potholes and road resurfacing, but is nonetheless quite interesting.




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