Prompted by almost springlike weather and slightly lighter nights, and urged on by the Edinburgh Cycle Challenge, I’ve been back on my bike this week. I confess to being a fair weather cyclist and I haven’t used it much over the winter but this week has got me going again. Here’s the problem though. My route to work takes me across the centre of Edinburgh. Now Edinburgh has some lovely cycle paths and people are working hard to make cycle facilities better, but..:Edinburgh City Cycleways Innertube Map – annotated
..you see that big gap in the middle of the city within the red line – that’s the bit that causes the problem. It contains, among other things, a railway, a river, tram lines, major bus routes, some pretty steep hills, very unpleasant traffic and horrible potholes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the centre of Edinburgh – it also has the castle, the Scott Monument, Princes Street Gardens, several art galleries and museums, one of the city’s two extinct volcanoes and three thousand years of history – but it’s not very nice to cycle across.
Hence the slow lane. To avoid all the nastiness in the middle, I’ve been trying to cycle round it instead, using these nice cycle paths. It adds about ten to fifteen minutes to my journey. The paths don’t always connect very well and I still have to negotiate some quite unpleasant roads and occasionally get lost in dead ends, one-way streets and building sites but instead of having to battle the horrible hills, the nasty traffic and the potholes, I get to cycle along used railway paths, listen to the birds singing and watch the spring bulbs coming up. I also see an awful lot of dogs.
My working hours are quite flexible and I no longer have to rush home for small people coming home from school so I can usually afford those extra minutes to my day so long as it’s not dark. For the moment I’m sticking to the slow lane. Until the next time that I’m late for meeting or it’s pouring with rain: then I’ll be back on the bus.
Oh and why is this a gardening post? Well it isn’t really but it is about environmental issues and enjoying the wildlife on the cycle paths.