Edinburgh snub pothole repairs for more cycle paths
But is this prioritisation really in the best interest of cyclists?

Development of Edinburgh’s cycle paths has taken priority over repairs to the city’s potholed streets, in a budget reallocation of £1.05m that has been dubbed “very short-sighted” by a spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

The reallocation will see the proportion of the city’s transport budget spent on cycling rise to seven percent as Edinburgh Council look to meet their target for 15% of journeys in the city being made by bicycle by 2020.

The move to support cycling in this instance has been met with incredulity by some councillors and motoring organisations who have made it clear that the state of the roads has an equivalent impact on cyclists and motorists.

Transport committee member Councillor Bill Henderson doesn’t agree with the council’s decision to redistribute of funds.

“I don’t see why any of the money from roads or street lighting should be allocated to cycling.” Mr Henderson told Edinburgh Evening News. “Most cyclists that I talk to want the potholes fixed. So why are we taking £1m that is specifically assigned to roads when really the benefits are usually given to all road users and almost all modes of transport – car, bus, bike, even pedestrians?”

While Edinburgh’s focus on supporting cycling is admirable, naysayers are quick to point out that the money that had been earmarked for road repairs could have filled 21,000 potholes at £50 a pop.

This year’s road maintenance budget was at it’s highest ever level, reaching £25.9m to battle a backlog of much needed road repairs. For the coming two years, if the draft budgets remain, it has been cut by £10m, and this further £1.05m hit will allegedly seriously impact the future state of roads in Edinburgh.

The budget changes were supported however, by the city’s Green transport spokesman Cllr Nigel Bagshaw who said: “We have a commitment to increase the cycling budget and it’s only right that that’s what the council is doing."

He added that the money had to “come from somewhere” and that “a lot of money has already been spent on the roads to make up for a long-term backlog."

Mr Bagshaw finished by stating that he didn't "have a problem with the cycling budget coming up.”

But Councillor Bagshaw's support for the decisions was not echoed by Neil Greig, the spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

He said: “To fix the potholes we need guaranteed long-term funding. One good year, one bad year is what’s caused the problem so far. Cutting road maintenance to fund cycling is very short-sighted. It’ll cost them more in the long run.”

Opponents of the reallocation claim Edinburgh Council is being unwise in prioritising cycling, but when Council budgets are squeezed, these kind of trade offs are bound to crop up.

Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.

Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.

When Elliot's not writing for road.cc two wheels are still his favoured mode of transport; these days over the undulating streets of Madrid.


mrmo [1942 posts] 2 years ago

if the cyclepaths are "high quality" go where people want to go, are separated from the roads, offer priority over cars etc etc. Then taking money from the pot-hole repair budget can at least be justified. If it is the usual paint a few lines, then no it can't.

However no cycle path is ever going to go from door to door, those potholed strewn roads are going to see cyclists using them. If the condition of the roads is to bad, they become dangerous.

This is without considering that some road users wil ask why there "road tax" is being diverted to non tax payers.

* what was it, £700M in bike sales last year which means £140M in vat, how much is being spent on cyclists!!!!

crazy-legs [672 posts] 2 years ago

Not sure how much it's changed from when I last rode a bike in Edinburgh maybe 2 years ago but the roads round there are shocking, an absolute disgrace. Far worse than London or Manchester.

But Edinburgh Council have squandered hundreds of millions on a tram line, now going to waste another million on what will essentially be a few bits of paint and maybe a few "cyclists dismount" signs. Call me cynical but I can't see £1 million getting a comprehensive network of segregated cycle lanes...

In this instance I agree that the money would far better spent on some proper road resurfacing.

Goldfever4 [208 posts] 2 years ago

Fair enough to complain really, how far can £1m be realistically expected to go towards cycle paths in a city the size of Edinburgh?

robcrow [53 posts] 2 years ago

There is no such thing as road tax.the tax you pay is excise duty on fuel emissions,bikes don't make emissions so cyclists don't have to pay.the road upkeep comes from your council tax,not from emission tax.so everybody who pays council tax pays for the roads.

daddyELVIS [654 posts] 2 years ago

I'd rather see potholes fixed than cycle paths created.

Some of the roads around Bristol are getting very dangerous due to poor surfaces, whilst most of the 'cycle paths' are useless. I mainly cycle on the roads, and observe that this is also the case with approx 80% of other Bristol cyclists. For me, and all those other cyclists, repairing more potholes would be very welcome indeed.

I assume this is a similar situation to other towns & cities, including Edinburgh.

Trull [79 posts] 2 years ago

Seems reasonable enough in principle, after all its too many cars which cause the damage to the road surface. So if you can drop the number of cars by providing for cyclists then your future repair bill comes down.

NIrish [20 posts] 2 years ago

Lived in Edinburgh for years and there are roads that are bad but on the whole not bad, moved to Glasgow and ever since the Scottish way to repair a pothole doesn't last. A 'repair' gets worked into a bigger hole in about 4 weeks. Don't think it's the right thing but that 1M is sure wasted on potholes.

Argos74 [358 posts] 2 years ago

Roads that don't necessitate reconstructive dental work or more car parks. Tough choice.

nbrus [293 posts] 2 years ago

Tarmacking off road tracks like the union canal will be a good way to spend the money as the bumpy dirt track puts me off using it where its not properly surfaced. We definitely need good off road paths for cycling so we don't have to mix with traffic.

vbvb [490 posts] 2 years ago

The Edinburgh Evening News loves to make these into either / or decisions. Is it wrong to hope for pot-holes filled and cycling budgets supported, considering Edinburgh's fireworks budget and annual festival revenues?

My feeling is that Edinburgh will benefit from seeing and reflecting on the other cities pushing ahead with bike lane segregation. Our "Quality Bike Corridor" is permanently out of action because of car parking - 10 or 12 unused cars ruining the main town-uni link for hundreds of commuters on bikes. That's a vision thing, not a money thing.

HKCambridge [214 posts] 2 years ago

"So why are we taking £1m that is specifically assigned to roads when really the benefits are usually given to all road users and almost all modes of transport – car, bus, bike, even pedestrians?”"

Pull the other one - how much of the roads' maintenance budget benefits pedestrians - or even cyclists?

The roads have been prioritised for cars for decades, but because (very few) cyclists use them, because there's no alternative, suddenly they are cyclists' roads?

Cycle infrastructure, if of good quality, *is* the long term view. It means fewer vehicles damaging the roads in the first place. It means a healthier populace, improved air quality, reduced noise, more pleasant cities. It possibly even means better driving conditions if enough unnecessary private car journeys are taken off the roads.

The '£50 a pop' style of pot-hole repair probably won't last the year, or even the winter in some places. How can it be anything other than short-term thinking?