December 2015

Forth Road Bridge closure – cycling opportunity

Update 15.12.15: FORTHBRIDGE CLOSURE SURVEY by Glasgow and Leeds universities
Update 10.12.15: Craigie’s Farm letter to MSPs “Three of our staff normally cycle to work over the bridge”
Update 10.12.15: Torquil Crichton in The Record “Of course … featherweight cyclists should be allowed …”
Update 9.12.15: First reply from Transport Minister, via Cara Hilton MSP

Spokes has written to Transport Minister Derek Mackay MSP asking for urgent attention to the cycling opportunities and problems resulting from the bridge closure…

We estimate that a good 200 people cycle-commute across the bridge, many of whom are now adding to the car and public transport congestion.   One told us, “I work in Livingston and regularly cycle from FerryToll, even in the winter.  Now suddenly I am forced to travel by car.  I know lots of other people who regularly cycle commute over the bridge.”  He later emailed to say, “I’ve just taken 3 hours to commute by car! Behind schedule at work and dreading the return journey.”

Numbers have been boosted substantially recently by big government and council investment in a high quality cycleroute from the bridge to the city.

Mike Lewis 20-milers 8015501123_19d8cdfd5b_b

The pleasures of the bridge in happier days

Conversely, a carefully-designed scheme to allow cycling over the bridge could attract many additional people away from the delays and congestion being experienced in cars and in public transport.

Spokes appreciates the seriousness of the bridge problems, and the amount of effort involved in setting up major rail and traffic compensatory measures.   Nonetheless, the failure to address cycling issues at all by now is greatly at odds with the Minister’s frequent statements that cycling (particularly bike commuting) needs to be seen as an important means of transport in Scotland, and should be grown rapidly.

Instead, at the end of a long information release, the government tacks on a brief bland sentence that cycling (and walking) is banned – with no further comment or any suggestion that it has been taken seriously.

The reason the bridge has been closed is because of damage caused by the weight and vibration of motor traffic, and which is likely to be worsened by continuing traffic.  Bicycles add no significant weight or vibration and are not going to worsen the existing vehicle-caused damage.

The Spokes letter makes several concrete suggestions, including…

  • If unregulated cycling is considered unsafe or disruptive, cyclists could be allowed over in escorted convoys at regular scheduled intervals, such as every 15 minutes, with the escort ensuring that any work areas were passed safely.
  • The numbers cycling could be very greatly increased (and therefore car and rail congestion lessened) by providing bike parking/storage at the south end of the bridge, and a bus connection from there to Edinburgh.

The level of concern over the government’s inaction on these opportunities and problems is indicated by our initial tweet which at this time has been retweeted by over 50 people.



If you support our concerns, please contact your MSPs and ask them to urge the Minister to investigate this matter, and to do so with a positive approach.  Find your MSPs at

Letters from a pressure group such as Spokes have far greater effect if concerned individuals are contacting their MSPs about the same issue.




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