Cycling conference gives Edinburgh food for thought

Councillor Jim Orr, Vice Convener for Transport, reports on yesterday's Cycling Scotland annual conference.

"It was a great honour to give the opening address at the annual Cycling Scotland Conference yesterday, where we heard about the inspiring examples of urban cycling initiatives already in place in the Netherlands.

"The strapline of the conference was "Love Cycling? Go Dutch", and there's no doubt about it - when it comes to encouraging people to take to two wheels, the Dutch have nailed it. By embracing a long-term vision - and yes, with substantial investment into the mix - urban planners across the Netherlands have transformed their urban areas into safe and cycle-friendly environments.

"Here in Edinburgh, we unfortunately can't yet match the Dutch in terms of financial commitment into cycling infrastructure, but there is certainly a great deal of enthusiasm among cyclists and the Council's Active Travel Action Plan partners towards making the City much more bike-friendly, and towards our goal of having 15% of journeys to work by bike by 2020.

"A lot of energy and hard work has gone into improving the City's cycle network lately, with a new link connecting The Shore in Leith with Portobello Promenade opened last month and the Quality Bike Corridor between George IV Bridge and King's Buildings set for its official launch tomorrow.

"We will soon be piloting new residential cycle storage units to enable residents to park their bikes safely on street and innovative measures like the pilot 20mph zone in South Edinburgh are creating more cycle-friendly routes to work and school.

"Where major roads projects are planned, we'll make sure cycling provision is given as much of a voice in the conversation as other modes of transport. At the moment, we are carrying out a comprehensive consultation on the preliminary design for the Leith Improvement Programme, and cycling groups' views will inform the final design together with other interested parties. With such an important route as this, it's crucial that we gather as many suggestions and comments as we possibly can before we arrive at the final plans. We owe it to the people who live, work and visit Leith to do the best possible job we can.

"Looking ahead, I will be writing to the Transport Minister Keith Brown to ask for a meeting. I'll be asking the Minister to support the Cycling Scotland proposal that he convene a summit of all local authority cycling representatives to push forward actions to achieve the Scotland-wide target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020.

"More local authorities should be following Edinburgh's example. And maybe one day, we'll all go Dutch..."

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