An Edinburgh councillor has expressed her disappointment at the "extremely light" bicycle racks that can be "easily unscrewed" and hoisted up in the air, joining other cyclists to warn that these newly installed racks will see an increase in bike thefts in the area and demanded better infrastructure to provide safe parking, however, the council had told road.cc that the parking space "meets design requirements".
The cycle racks were installed in the newly landscaped Leith Walk area of the city as part of the Trams to Newhaven project. However, earlier this month, a cyclist raised the alarm about bike thefts after seeing one of the racks become unusable, having been seemingly easily unscrewed from the ground.
Now, Susan Rae, Scottish Green Party councillor for Leith Walk, has told Edinburgh Live that she was able able to detach one of the metal stands from the pavement herself, and said that more needs to be done to improve bike security.
She said: "When I was walking past, the cycle rack had already been removed and it wasn't until I picked it up, that I realised just how light the cycle racks are.
"They are extremely lightweight, there is no heft to them whatsoever. It's just so disappointing that they are not robust enough as they are supposed to keep the public's bikes safe."
Proof positive the current cycle racks aren’t nearly robust enough. If I can wield one then I question its efficacy! pic.twitter.com/uwRZb9gXWf
— Susan Rae (@susan4leithwalk) August 11, 2023
Speaking on recent bike thefts happening within the Scottish capital, Councillor Rae said: "The bike theft situation in Edinburgh has increased recently and it is at a very bad stage."
She said that the inadequate bike racks largely explain the thefts. She admitted that until something is done to improve bike security, thefts will continue to happen. She said: "The bike theft situation in Edinburgh has increased recently and it is at a very bad stage.
"We need to be careful when it comes to bike security - more people are increasingly using cycles and the demand for cycle racks is increasing too so we want them to be robust and to be built properly.
"Bikes are an investment for many people - they are not cheap and people get attached to them so it's a big thing and can be heart-breaking for many people if they lose their bike. We need to make sure that we install bike security that is fit for purpose.
"I only really know what the problem is like in Leith and it's infuriating to know that the issue is bad in this area and not across the rest of the city — it's not consistent and it's just so infuriating."
In June, Edward Tissiman, a cyclist from Edinburgh, had asked the council to confirm its bike racks were "immovable" as per his bike insurance provider's requirement that bikes are "securely locked to an immovable object". At the time, he speculated that the racks could be easily removed with an allen key, but never heard a response from City of Edinburgh Council.
IMPORTANT: your insurance may not cover you if you use these racks. Much depends on the interpretation of an "immovable object":
"A solid object that the bike cannot be removed from by lifting it under or over the object"
I've been advised not to use them. https://t.co/hSRriMH68z
— Edward Tissiman (@edtiss) August 1, 2023
And just over a month later, the fears became a reality. He shared photos on social media of the cycle-parking facility, the middle of the five racks lying on its side with the attachments used to fix it to the ground next to it.
"It appears that a bike has been stolen at Dalmeny Street/Leith Walk," he warned. "The thief has just unscrewed the rack. Please share far and wide so no one else suffers this. If only someone had warned the Trams to Newhaven project, eh?"
Tissiman also informed road.cc that as of now, the council is continuing to install new bike racks in the same fashion along the whole length of the new Trams to Newhaven line.
More locals have started voicing their anger and fears about their bikes being stolen following these newly-installed racks.
One local bike rider said: "That is my main concern when cycling. Simple, secure parking for 60 minutes reduces stress. I ride a wreck hoping it will not be worth pinching."
Another Edinburgh resident commented: "Were the people who came up with them paid? Have they been sacked yet? Incompetents, but also competent supervision seems to have been sorely lacking."
When road.cc contacted the City of Edinburgh Council for a comment, the council was keen to point out it had not received any report of the criminal damage resulting in a bike being stolen, and stressed the racks "meet the project's design requirements and use standard fixtures".
Councillor Scott Arthur, the council's transport and environment convener, told us: "The cycle parking installed as part of Trams to Newhaven meets the project's design requirements and uses standard fixtures. We have not had any report of a bike being stolen, but we are aware of unacceptable criminal damage to a bike rack.
"We will continue to remain vigilant and monitor the use of the bike racks, and work with police where appropriate."
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.