Cycling in South West Edinburgh (and beyond)
I am looking forward to taking possession of a brand new bike to replace my trusty old boneshaker (for ‘trusty’ read ‘ heavy’!!) courtesy of the company I work for being a member of the Government sponsored tax-effi cient Cycle to Work scheme (see www.dft.gov.uk). As well as getting to work riding a bike is a perfect way to explore South West Edinburgh. There can be few areas of Scotland that are better served than ours for urban cycling (and access to the countryside beyond the city boundaries).
Firstly around the Meadow and Bruntsfield Links we have an outstanding selection of specialist bike shops where we can ensure we are fi tted out with the right type and size of bike (properly adjusted to our various frames!). Then, we have ready local access to quality advice on all aspects of cycling such as equipment, routes, etiquette, security and a myriad of other practical tips from a number of local organisations.
Since 1977 Spokes has lead the Lothian Cycle Campaign to encourage cycling and improve conditions for cyclists. Spokes publish a series of cycle maps detailing local and national routes together with information on local organised cycle rides. Their website at www.spokes.org.uk/wordpress also provides links to a number of other useful local facilities such as City Cycling Edinburgh (www.citycyclingedinburgh.info/bbpress) and Cycling Edinburgh (www.CyclingEdinburgh.info) who provide a forum for local cycling issues. The Lothian’s branch of the Cyclists Touring Club, which is a national organisation with over 130 years of looking after cyclists’ interest, offers the opportunity to ride in company to explore some of the lesser-known parts of the area. On their website (www.ctclothians.org.uk) CTC stress they are a touring club and not a racing group.
Once we are ready for the road the Meadows area provides the epicentre for cycling in Edinburgh. On our doorstep we have access to not one but two National Cycle Network Routes – Route 1 which goes as far-a-fi eld as John O’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 provides the first stage on the run along the Millenium Link to the Falkirk Wheel. From here the Forth & Clyde Canal Towpath can be accessed – making a circular run to Glasgow and back along Route 75 a real possibility.
The National Cycle Network is coordinated by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans. Check Sustrans website (www.sustrans.org.uk) for further details.