Melanie Main: Edinburgh’s Cycling Breakfast

This year I was determined to go to the SPOKES Bike Breakfast at the City Chambers (part of National Bike Week) – I count myself a cyclist now; having cycled to work, cycled to shop and even taken ‘small person’ to swimming lessons by bike.

Breakfast was very sociable, supportive and full of familiar faces eating bacon rolls and drinking coffee.  The kind man from the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative who cleaned by bike chain, for free, insisted it wasn’t the worst he’d seen that morning.  My poor neglected bike was acquired from The Bike Station several years ago, with good intentions.  My helmet, lock and lights cost more than the bike, but I was set up and ready to go.

In the end it was a couple of refresher lessons from Colin at  A Better Way to Work (a fantastic project that The Bike Station ran last year) that gave me the confidence to actually make cycling a part of my daily routine. He also planned a great route to work:  across the Meadows, along the canal and down the Roseburn Path.

Now, I’m doing my bit toward Edinburgh’s target of at least 15% of journeys to work by bike for the year 2020, but we could do with more help please Edinburgh Council – cycle lanes on every main road like Copenhagen and parking in all the shopping areas would be a good start.

Leaving breakfast at the City Chambers I had to cycle to work on main roads – something I usually avoid. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.  Edinburgh commissioned Van Gehl to enlighten it with plans for our centre – his Cities for People has an entire chapter on cycling in cities. So why does Council’s new vision for Princes Street marginalise cyclists?

Copenhagen’s city bike scheme is used mainly by tourists – could we ever make city centre cycling so safe and inviting? Then again, with Scottish weather, perhaps the sightseeing bus is a better bet. Cycling through the rain this week I may just have graduated from ‘fair weather cyclist’ to ‘cyclist’ – I certainly got wet often enough.