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Cycle lane notorious for parked cars "urgently" needs bollards, councillor warns "genuine concern" of fatality

As recently as last week a reader waited 15 minutes for an Amazon van driver blocking the bike lane to return from delivering packages

More concerns have been voiced about the ongoing issue of drivers parking in an Edinburgh cycle lane, with one city councillor going as far as to say the "rampant" pavement and bike lane parking leaves her "genuinely concerned there is going to be a fatality".

On Friday's live blog a reader told us he has "never seen" the Leith Walk cycle lane "without someone parked in it", the comments coming after the cyclist had waited 15 minutes for an Amazon-branded delivery van to move from the infrastructure, the driver telling him to "deal with it".

> "I've never seen it without someone parked in it": Cyclist waits 15 minutes for Amazon van driver parked in bike lane to move

Our reader reported counting 17 cyclists forced out into the road to pass the stationary vehicle during the 15 minutes, a danger Scottish Greens councillor Susan Rae says needs to be addressed, suggesting the installation of bollards to keep drivers off the infrastructure and pavement to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe.

"We're exhausted by drivers eating pavements and cycle paths"

Cllr Rae had been "reluctant" to see bollards installed, Edinburgh Live reports, but now feels it is the best way to "force a shift in behaviour" as she is "genuinely concerned there is going to be a fatality".

"We're exhausted by drivers eating pavements and cycle paths with illegally parked cars," she said, also suggesting the "plasticy" wand-style bollards are "of absolutely no value".

"People just drive over those," she said. "I don't want any old bollards. If we're going to have bollards I want them to be aesthetically pleasing. They have to be decent, part of the infrastructure and nice.

"Pavement parking is a huge problem — and it really is a huge problem on Leith Walk — so the more we've done to try and stop pavement parking, the worse it's got, to be honest, and the same reaction has happened with the London Road left turn. The more we did to help people not turn left, the more people came there just to turn left, we put bollards up."

The bollards at that particular turning acted as an education for those hoping to break the rules on left turns, leaving Cllr Rae to think it is the only solution to the cycle lane problem too.

> "That has to be a record": Cyclist counts 20 vehicles parked in short cycle lane stretch – as council finally considers installing wands

"I was very reluctant to put bollards up," she explained. "I was quite opposed to them — I didn't want to put bollards there but to be honest I've come round to thinking it's the only way we're going to stop this."

In response, council transport convener, Scott Arthur of Labour, said a meeting between coucillors and project managers on the Trams to Newhaven project, who have overseen the construction of the cycle lane, has been scheduled.

However, he also suggested the bollards discussed could cost "hundreds of thousands of pounds" and deflected the issue towards the need to "talk about everything [...] including interaction between pedestrians and cyclists".

"A number of the Leith Walk councillors have been in touch about it," Cllr Arthur said. "We know what the issues are, in that the current contract can't be changed plus everything is in a state of change right now in terms of the works aren't complete yet, we're still trying to come to terms with the situation and we've got the pavement parking ban powers coming in at the end of the year — so it's a state of flux just now.

"Everybody knows this and if Susan Rae had been engaging with people she would know it as well. It would come at a cost but you're probably looking at hundreds of thousands of pounds. If we're going to talk about public safety on Leith Walk we have to talk about everything, including interaction between pedestrian and cyclists — we can't just look at the bollards.

"I've inherited a situation on Leith Walk which nobody is happy with — cyclists, pedestrians and some of the businesses. I've organised a meeting of ward councillors and the Trams to Newhaven team to talk through some of these concerns. What that meeting is going to say is it probably can't be done in the scope of the current contract."

Leith Walk cycle lane (Allasan Seòras Buc, Twitter)

Elsewhere on Leith Walk in the first few months of 2023, the now-infamous zig-zag bike lane which was roundly ridiculed when pictures first appeared of its bizarre layout, a recently added advisory cycle lane was dubbed a "unicycle lane" due to it being "narrower than a pair of handlebars".

Leith Walk's new narrow advisory cycle lane (credit - Alan Brown)

"Went down for a wee look. Actually burst out laughing on the way down it was so tragic," Edinburgh cyclist and author Alan Brown wrote on Twitter. "Edinburgh has done it. They've made a brand-new advisory cycle lane narrower than a pair of handlebars."

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Mungecrundle | 1 year ago

The Police around my way solved the problem of car parking in the 70cm reserved cycling gutter, at least for the day of one special event, by strategically placing a number of "No Parking" cones in it.

mattw | 1 year ago

Polishing a turd is the correct phrase imo.

AFAICS there's insufficient physical segregation between the cycle track and the footway, so visually impaired people will be all over it. Approach angles to the slalom too, and I expect quite a lot more.

eburtthebike | 1 year ago

"....a meeting between coucillors and project managers on the Trams to Newhaven project, who have overseen the construction of the cycle lane....."

That explains so much about why the cycle lane is unspeakably awful: they used tram designers.

".....and deflected the issue towards the need to "talk about everything [...] including interaction between pedestrians and cyclists"."

How can you "talk about everything" when the project is almost finished?  The time to talk about this was at the inception and design phases, not when it's too late to do anything except with massive disruption and cost.

I've lost track of how many times councils and designers have been told to consult early about cycling facilities, not when the design is complete and construction imminent, but we've been saying it for decades, apparently to no effect whatsoever.

chrisonabike replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago

Not just any tram designers either!  Following a host of accidents one was challenged at a public meeting about why they'd ignored advice from a European consultant on designing safe tram/cycle interactions*.  When it was suggested they should make use of such knowledge in the future (from, y'know, places where there are lots of trams AND lots of bikes) he took this as an attack on his experience and told everyone he'd designed trams in Ireland, thank you very much!

* funded by the local cycle group - which of course might explain why they ignored it.  Not our experts...

chrisonabike replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago

To give the council their due the consultations were torrid affairs.  Part of me thinks that they might have been a little less, had they done a bit more by way of due dilligence in terms of cost / level of disruption / realistic assessment of what we'd actually get for much more money than was suggested.

The fact that they couldn't even complete one line the first time round but had to come back for another go to finish it off (down Leith walk, again!) probably meant that there were few folks not in battle mode by that point.

They did listen to some "notes and queries" from e.g. Living Streets, Spokes (the local cycle group) I think. As you say this was often long, long after it was an expensive fact.

ShutTheFrontDawes replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
1 like
eburtthebike wrote:


How can you "talk about everything" when the project is almost finished?

I don't think you're councillor material with comments like that  3

I've been involved in some local projects where the time taken for councillors and staff to discuss stuff has vastly outweighed the total cost of the project.

Smoke and mirrors by bureaucracy and red tape.

giff77 | 1 year ago

I quite like the rising bollard. That would learn them.

Sniffer | 1 year ago

I do like a bit of World Bollard Association on twitter.

lesterama | 1 year ago

Add some bollards to polish a turd. That infrastructure is desperately poor. Bollards won't make it decent.

chrisonabike replied to lesterama | 1 year ago

Agreed it's ropey - and still officially a work in progress I think.  However imperfect as it is (I've reviewed it BTL here on it is still a step up from on-road not-really-protected not-continuous cycle lanes.  Aside from their poor surfaces and debris you can guarantee you'll find vehicles in those!

However there is currently a strong popular belief that "the lukewarm food must get through".  Or that it's a human right to be able to "nip in to a shop" "just for a minute".  Or do a mid-day delivery.  Also moving your vehicle at least partly off the carriageway is seen as important - to avoid the ire of fellow motorists.  There is also approx. zero enforcement.  So it might be time for bollards.  They'll have to be pretty frequent though.

I'm not down there often but every time I've been there there's something in the bike lane / on the pavement.  Not a great surprise given the large number of eateries - deliveries in / orders out are going to generate traffic.  Already the major transport lifeform seems to be the delivery e-bike but there are still plenty of cars / vans.

I note that quite a few bollards were installed on London Road near Jock's Lodge - just for the pavement / keep them out of the bus lane I'm guessing?  Maybe something similar for Leith Walk?

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