There is a tendency for all of as to define transport in a rather siloed way. We tend to talk about moving trains, cars buses, goods vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. I am convinced that it is this mentality that lies behind many of Edinburgh’s transport problems and our collective inability to discuss them properly.
My view is that we should simplify the argument by viewing transport in the city as a system which is focussed on moving goods and people efficiently. The difference is subtle, but important.
Like many people in Edinburgh I own a car and bike, but I also love using Lothian Buses (I’m writing this from my favourite seat at the front of the top deck) and normally manage to wrack up at least 10,000 steps a day. Also like many people in Edinburgh, I actively swap between these modes of transport from day-to-day
As a city we know that if people make the positive choice to walk or cycle more often, that’s better for them and our Capital. The Council should be doing all it can to inform and support that decision making process.
Making the decision to start commuting to work by bike, however, can be incredibly difficult. As well as getting the right bike and clothing, a safe route has to be identified.
As somebody that lives in Buckstone, I really envy the ever improving cycling facilities on Leith Walk that help Leithers make that positive switch to a healthier and more sustainable alternative to the car. I had hoped these facilities would inspire similar investments in my Ward to make it safer for my constituents and their children to get to work or school by bike.
Instead it appears that cycling safety measures may be removed from Leith Walk to make way for cars as part of the proposed completion of the tramline. Given the hundreds of accidents reported along the existing line and the ongoing plan to reduce the risks, who can argue with the demand that Sustrans has made that a full safety audit be undertaken on the proposed changes to Leith Walk? Indeed, there have also been reports that Leithers may have to walk up to 600m to cross the road safely!
The solution to this conflict is clear – we must listen to Sustrans and focus on people, not their mode of transport. Above all else, people should contribute to the consultation.