On not being content with what’s on offer

There was quite a discussion on the CityCyclingEdinburgh forum of Edinburgh City Council’s latest proposals for the city Centre. If I’ve understood them correctly, the proposal is for buses to run along George Street in one direction and along Princes Street in the other direction. There would be high-quality cycle lanes on George Street, but bicycles would be banned along with all other traffic (except the trams) from travelling east along Princes Street.

A really good quality lane on George Street would of course be a good thing – so long as it is a proper cycle lane and not some paint doubling up as a car park. However some (including Spokes) were not happy about the proposed ban on eastbound cycling on Princes Street. Others felt that to complain about this would suggest that cyclists are never satisfied. Perhaps we’d end up with no cycling provision at all?

Well, you could argue that nothing is better than cycle lanes that are of no use, because they are narrow or parked on or run in the dangerous “door zone” next to parked cars. And you might argue that these kinds of lanes are what we’ve got from being grateful for what we’re given. Maybe, now is the time to say that this sort of thing isn’t good enough when it comes to encouraging all kinds of people to cycle, and that if we can’t have good stuff, we’d rather have nothing at all.

On the other hand, you might argue that we should be pleased to get good provision on George Street, and that, if it is good enough, everyone will cycle that way anyway and no one will mind not being able to use Princes Street.

Anyway, when I emailed my local councillors, I started off by saying how pleased I was that the plans include cycle provision, before going on to express my concern about Princes Street. And I’m sure there will be a lot more discussion before these changes come to pass. 

One argument I didn’t include in my email was the suggestion that some people would ignore a cycling ban. I’m sure that this would happen, just as some people cycle on the pavement but I could not work out how to phrase my argument without sounding like someone disagreeing with speed limits because they claim no-one obeys them. Now that really is a topic for another day…

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