Spring is just about here and I am looking forward to ditching the car and re-mounting my bike for the daily commute to work. There can be few areas that are better served than South West Edinburgh for urban cycling and access onwards to the countryside beyond the city boundaries.
On our doorstep we have access to not one, but two, National Cycle Network Routes – the north / south Route 1 which goes on as far a field as JohnO’Groats and London and Route 75 which takes us west along the Union Canal towpath and on to Glasgow. The Union Canal towpath is perhaps the prime local asset as it provides access to many other local links; is the gateway to the Pentland Hills: and the first stage along the Millenium Link which runs first to the Falkirk Wheel basin where we can join the Forth& Clyde Canal Towpath making a circular journey to Glasgow and back along Route 75 a real possibility. The National Cycle Network is co- ordinated by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans – check their website for more details including access to extremely useful tools for planning, measuring and recording routes. (www.sustrans.org.uk).
It should perhaps be no surprise that we find ourselves so well served for cycling facilities. Since 1977 the cycling group Spokes has lead the Lothian Cycle Campaign to encourage cycling and to bring pressure to bear on local and national government to improve conditions for cyclists. Spokes publish a series of maps detailing local and national routes and also provide information on local organised cycle rides. Their website at www.spokes.org.uk also provides links to a number of other local facilities such as CityCycling Edinburgh (www.citycyclingedinburgh.info/bbpress) where you can access a forum for local cycling issues.