Cycling Scotland has today announced that Edinburgh is now the cycling capital of Scotland, with one in ten people (in certain parts of the capital) opting to cycle to work.
The achievement is the latest in a run of green victories for the capital, having last week been dubbed the electric car epicentre of Scotland. Walk through the city and you might spot a car bumper which reads ‘I am electric – switched on to make our city Edenburgh.”
Bad puns aside, this is good news.
Despite being very different accolades, the two achievements speak volumes about the positive strides the Edinburgh is taking.
Policy chief for the Institute of Advanced Motorists Neil Greig claims the city’s government workers are at the heart of the accomplishments.
“Cycling is very popular, and transport policies are geared towards green travel. Equally, there are a lot of civil servants in Edinburgh, and my understanding is that the most popular charging point is at Victoria Quay. Clearly the Scottish Government is putting out a message, and the people most likely to respond to that message are the people who work for the government.”
With a reputation for transportation excellence as sparkling as Edinburgh’s, it’s hard not to buy into Mr Greigs claims. Okay, that’s our one thinly veiled dig at the Edinburgh Trams project out the way. Let’s move on.
Appropriately for the hometown of cycling legend Chris Hoy, Edinburgh’s city centre wards made up over half of the top 20 cycle commuting areas in Scotland. That’s one dedicated hive of cycling enthusiasts.
Residents in Meadows and Morningside topped the poll with 9.9 per cent claiming they are most likely to arrive at work via pedal power. Newington and Southside scooped second place with 9.3 per cent opting for a lycra-clad morning commute.
Considering that there are two areas – Inverclyde and East Renfrewshire – where absolutely no one claims to use a bicycle as a primary mode of transportation,, Edinburgh really does seem to be dragging Scotland forward with steely determination.
Scotland invented the bicycle and it is incredibly satisfying to see more and more Scots reclaiming our two-wheeled heritage. However, Cycling Scotland’s overarching goal – ten per cent of all journeys to be made by bike by 2020 – does seem, well, a little watery.
Two per cent per year. That’s what Cycling Scotland are pushing for. Two per cent per year. That’s veritably glacial.
Let’s push for change that we might actually live to see.
The Tartan Tesla
Don’t get excited, you rabid kilt-clad nationalist. Tesla haven’t announced a tartan colour scheme. Yet. However, if the Californian mavericks were going to choose a city to target a special edition Model S at, there’s few better than Edinburgh.
With as many as 1100 electric cars silently whirring along the capital’s charging point-festooned streets, it’s an concentrated hotbed of electric goodness.
Down the other end of the M8, it’s not all pastures green. In Glasgow, just 60 per cent of charging points were used at least once during August last year. In Dundee, the numbers are equally as disappointing.
The proliferation of electric cars was often thought to be a bit of a catch-22 situation. People wouldn’t buy electric cars because there wasn’t an existing network of charging points and no one would build a charging network without enough electric cars on the road to make it profitable.
However, we’ve spent public money investing in a semi-decent network and there’s still astonishingly few electric cars outwith Edinburgh.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, provided a pragmatic analysis, saying:
“The encouraging news is that electric car sales in the UK are at last showing signs of improvement, but we still have a charging network in Scotland that is running below capacity. Part of the reason for installing public charge points is to help drivers overcome their fear of range anxiety, but this does not come cheap.
“This data also suggests a good proportion of charge points are located on private premises including council sites. This is encouraging as it was always envisaged that fleet operators would lead the way in the electric revolution. Ultimately we hope our analysis will give an indication of where further money should be spent and where extra infrastructure might be needed.”
So what does the future hold for the streets of Edinburgh? To be honest, we have no idea, but we can’t wait to find out!