October 2016

Transport Cttee 1.11.16 … Bike storage ↑↑ … Bus lanes ↓↓

Edinburgh Council’s November Transport Committee both delights us (on secure bike storage) and appals us (on bus lane cuts) …

Watch the Committee live [November 1st, 10am] or later here.


Lonsdale Terrace pilot storage units

Lonsdale Terrace pilot storage units

We’re delighted to see this long-delayed report, confirming the success of the Council’s pilot on-street bike storage scheme for tenement dwellers and others with nowhere to store a bike securely. Research has shown that, even as long as 10 years ago, the lack of secure storage was reducing potential bike ownership and use in the central part of the city.

The Council report confirms the huge pent-up demand for secure storage, with 94 streets listed in which storage units have been requested!!

Our tweet about the Council report was instantly popular with some 40 early retweets and 40 likes.

Rollout is currently planned at 10-15 locations a year, averaging 2 units per location, each unit storing 5-10 or so bikes (depending on the type of unit chosen), from 2017/18 onwards.  That would appear to be around 200 secure bike spaces added each year.  Decisions on the type of unit, management, initial locations, etc, are due to be made this year 2016/17.


Demand at the pilot locations

The Council’s biggest problem is likely to be managing the system, allocating keys, ensuring that spaces are properly utilised, etc.  We have drawn their attention to what appears to be a very successful approach in London, under a joint operation between the supplier Cyclehoop and several London Boroughs – though procurement of an efficient system is for the Council to investigate and decide.

What You Can Do…

  • A plan like this has plenty scope for delay, so if you want to see it operating soon it’s worth telling your councillors how pleased you are and asking them to ensure it is progressed as rapidly as possible
  • If you want to get added to the queue (though it is already very long) email activetravel@edinburgh.gov.uk
  • Help publicise what’s happening by retweeting our tweet.


Despite 150 written objections – from individuals, Community Councils, Sustrans, Transform Scotland and the Scottish Association for Public Transport – the Transport Committee last year decided to experimentally scrap Saturday bus lanes and to restrict all weekday bus lanes to peak-period only.  A new report to the 1st November 2016 Committee recommends making those cutbacks permanent.

Spokes and Living Streets are extremely disturbed at this decision, and have written to all councillors on the committee – see our letter [pdf].   The experiment has provided no clear evidence of benefits to any group, whilst our letter highlights mild to serious disbenefits of various sorts to cyclists, pedestrians and buses.

Lothian Buses reports “a consistent marginal increase” in journey times, albeit “not conclusive.”

An attitude survey of walkers and cyclists on affected roads shows 20%-40% considering that conditions in various respects are now worse (including speeding in bus lanes, feeling less safe, and difficulties crossing the street) against just 3%-10% who felt conditions were better.

In terms of cyclist danger  this video shows clearly the unnecessary hazard posed by encouraging cars into bus lanes for more hours of the day.   When watching the video, note the following…

Close pass by car in bus lane - click for video

Close pass by car in bus lane – click for video

  • there is plenty room for the motorist to be in the main traffic lane, so there is no necessity for the bus lane to be available to them
  • the motorist appears more concerned to keep inside the prominent white line of the bus lane than to stick to the Highway Code in giving the cyclist adequate passing space.

On policy  we point out that the decision to cut bus lane hours totally contradicts the Council’s own Local Transport Strategy policies on public transport, on walking and on cycling – see our letter for the policy statements.

In our letter, Spokes and Living Streets ask the Transport Committee to delay a decision for further consideration.  At the least, we suggest a compromise – supported by 63% of respondents in the Council’s own survey – whereby even if bus lanes are restricted to peak times on weekdays, they should at least continue to operate at the weekend.

What You Can Do

  • Contact your councillors.   If it is before Tuesday’s Committee, ask them to speak to the Transport Convener in support of our letter.  If it is after the Committee, ask them to press for their party manifesto for the May Council elections to include tougher bus lane rules on bus lane hours of operation – and car parking.
  • To make the experiment permanent, a new Traffic Regulation Order will be needed.   If the Council decides to go ahead it will be possible to object to the TRO – but objections are likely again to be rejected.
  • Help publicise the issue by retweeting our tweet on this.


Latest:  We’ve just received this email from a Spokes member…

“I cycle a lot.  Recently I cycled into Edinburgh from the airport.  In that journey the only cars that used the bus lane were speeding and using the bus lane to overtake, probably illegally, on the inside.  I have observed this on 2 other occasions, once driving and once cycling, on Sighthill Road where the times excluding cars from the bus lanes have been limited to rush-hour.”

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