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Residents blame increase in motorist-related collisions on recently installed cycle lanes

An Edinburgh residents group says the new pop-up lanes are at fault for a surge in accidents in the area, despite three of the five reported collisions involving drunk, distracted, or hit-and-run drivers

The past year has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of collisions involving motorists on Edinburgh’s Lanark Road – and some residents think that a recently installed cycle lane is to blame.

The protected bike lanes stretch for four miles along the Lanark Road, Longstone Road and Inglis Green Road in Edinburgh’s south-west and were introduced in 2021 as part of the city council’s Spaces for People project. Funded by Sustrans and constructed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the pop-up scheme aims to “create more space for people walking, wheeling and cycling” in the city. 

The largest of the three roads covered by the scheme, the Lanark Road, has traditionally been viewed as particularly dangerous for cyclists. In January 2012 keen cyclist Andrew McNicoll died while riding to work on the road, following an incident involving a parked car and a lorry. His family campaigned for changes in parking and a reduction of the 40mph speed limit. As part of the Spaces for People initiative, the speed limits on all three roads have been reduced by 10mph.

Since it was first proposed, however, the scheme has come under fire from a group of local residents. In January last year, the residents group South West Edinburgh in Motion (SWEM) threatened Edinburgh City Council with legal action if construction began on the pop-up bike lanes.

> Edinburgh residents group threatens council with legal action over new cycle lane

SWEM criticised the lack of an independent safety audit and said that the scheme was carried out without consultation, despite the council’s claim that the bike lanes were introduced in response to feedback from locals worried about congestion and crowded paths during the pandemic. 

This week SWEM’s chair Derryck Reid, a professor specialising in photonics at Heriot Watt University, blamed the new cycle lanes for the increase in collisions reported in the area. According to Reid, in 2019 and 2020 there were no incidents involving drivers, cyclists or pedestrians on the three roads in question.

"However, since the scheme was introduced by the council in 2021, residents have witnessed at least five collisions,” Reid told the Edinburgh Evening News. “These appear to be partly related to the design of the new scheme and ongoing poor road maintenance.”

Of the five collisions reported by Reid, three involved a driver “under the influence” who smashed into a vehicle in a floating parking space, knocking it across the cycle lane and pavement; a “hit and run” incident when a motorist struck another car in a floating parking space; and a driver who swerved to avoid a parked car and demolished a pedestrian refuge island in the process.

> Family of Edinburgh cyclist killed while riding to work launch safety campaign

The other two anecdotal incidents included a cyclist falling off her bike due to the poor road surface and a cyclist colliding with a child.

Jason Rust, a Conservative councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, said: "There is clearly something amiss when the council's flagship policy which aims to make our roads safer, in fact results in local residents feeling less safe. I am very concerned about the number of recent collisions and near-misses and the apparent failure of the council's processes to take these into account."

However, the council’s transport convenor Lesley Macinnes criticised SWEM’s decision to focus on the new cycle lanes as the primary factor behind the apparent increase in crashes.

“We must all drive to the conditions of the road, and that this list of alleged incidents includes someone claimed to be driving under the influence and ‘hit and run’ damage shows that this has not necessarily been the case,” she said. “In fact, these events demonstrate just how much we need to protect the safety of people walking and cycling, on a route where one cyclist so tragically lost their life in recent years.

“We have been open from the outset that these measures were introduced on an emergency basis to provide a safe alternative to public transport at a time when this was being discouraged, as well as a different option to the crowded Union Canal and Water of Leith paths. Officers exercised due diligence in the implementation of this scheme, including the audits required for such urgent changes and consideration of previous collisions, as well as liaising with community members since.

“This is a clear bid to upend a carefully thought through policy aiming to protect public safety based on anecdotes, many of which have not been reported to police and, in some cases, involve criminal behaviour by drivers.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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26 comments

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wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
1 like

"This week SWEM’s chair Derryck Reid, a professor specialising in photonics at Heriot Watt University, blamed the new cycle lanes on the increase in collisions reported in the area."

WEll two things occur to me. If the roads are increasing dangerous then cycle lanes are probably required.

If drivers can't help driving into other cars or people, then they only have themselves to blam.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
3 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

If drivers can't help driving into other cars or people, then they only have themselves to blam.

I think the trouble is they blam all to often and into others!

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mpdouglas | 2 years ago
3 likes

Living proof of the truism that half of the population are below average intelligence!

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graemee | 2 years ago
2 likes

Interestingly, the road has several speed cameras that have been deactivated since the reduction in the limit from 40 to 30. There's very little point in limit reduction if there's no enforcement. I can confirm the surface is terrible, much like the rest of Edinburgh!

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antigee | 2 years ago
3 likes

well that's changed my perception of how things work...every morning when the traffic news comes on listing collisions and congestion I usually "tut" "tut" and think "bloody cyclists" coming out of nowhere, dressed in dark clothes, running red lights, not wearing helmets and causing all those drivers to crash their vehicles into one another....now I know its not the cyclists that's the problem...it's the cycling infrastructure causing all those collisions!*

*costing £29m per day in insurance payouts according to the motor insurance industries website which I guess excludes NHS / Ambulance / Police / Fire and Rescue / economic / emotional costs

Maybe if the parking spaces where charged at their economic cost they wouldn't get used and then there would be no collisions?

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago
1 like

I hope this professor of photonics knows more about that than he does about road safety.  I wonder if I could attend one of his lectures and interrupt with expressions of contempt for his lecture planning.

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OldRidgeback | 2 years ago
6 likes

So cycle lanes are driving drivers on Lanark Rd to drink?

I used to commute to work along that road on my 10 speed back in the olden days.

 

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Tom_77 replied to OldRidgeback | 2 years ago
1 like
OldRidgeback wrote:

I used to commute to work along that road on my 10 speed back in the olden days.

I used to work at Heriot Watt University, half a lifetime ago. Cycled there on my Saracen Tufftrax, until the back wheel got so out of shape the tyre started rubbing on the frame.

 

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AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
10 likes
Quote:

This week SWEM’s chair Derryck Reid, a professor specialising in photonics at Heriot Watt University, blamed the new cycle lanes on the increase in collisions reported in the area. According to Reid, in 2019 and 2020 there were no incidents involving drivers, cyclists or pedestrians on the three roads in question.

I would be worried that a Professor teaching at a University makes claims like these when evidence shows multiple incidents along those routes in 2019/2020.
Unlike the Professor, Crashmap takes actually officially reported incidents and not anecdotal ones from residents and it shows 4 along Longstone Road alone in 2019-20 including a serious one. 

The 2 comments are interesting though, one rightly points out that why is it the councils fault that cars are hitting stationary objects, where the other is blaming the council for not considering parked cars are invisble at night, 

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IanMK replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
2 likes
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

 

where the other is blaming the council for not considering parked cars are invisble at night, 

It's good to know that drivers are required to learn the highway code in order to be able to drive. That way we all know that they are familiar with Rule 248 "You MUST NOT park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognised parking space." 

A law that one would assume is designed to maximise their visibility

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to IanMK | 2 years ago
3 likes

However, there is nothing to indicate the car parking was facing the wrong way and the floating parking spaces actually have reflective wands on them to show people inthe dark that they exist. 

I think the lies being told by SWEM is shown in the actual pictures in the article with the car that hit the predestrian refuge section. actualy facing a direction of travel that doesn't have floating spaces. To have avoided one, they would have had to been travelling on the wrong side of the road and refuge, which I expect they were actually doing. The only point I agree with SWEM on is the road surface issues and the need to fix the markings on the central refuge as it could be used by pedstrians with cars thinking driving up the centre of the road being OK. 

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OnYerBike replied to IanMK | 2 years ago
4 likes

Whilst I suspect very few drivers are in fact familiar with that rule (and it is, as far as I can tell, entirely unenforced) in this case it sounds like the parked cars were within "recognised parking spaces" and therefore not strictly relevant.

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mdavidford | 2 years ago
11 likes
Quote:

a driver who swerved to avoid a parked car

...which obviously appeared out of nowhere.

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Hirsute replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
5 likes

Well, it was floating !

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OldRidgeback replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
2 likes

Was it not wearing hi viz?

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
9 likes

I'm shocked that a bit of white paint hasn't protected people!

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jaymack replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
5 likes

Or those poor parked cars.

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Sriracha | 2 years ago
5 likes
Quote:

...blamed the new cycle lanes on the increase in collisions...

You sure that's what was said?

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Secret_squirrel replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
1 like

I came here to say the same thing.  There is nothing in the original quotes from the Professor Chairman bloke that calls out the cycle lane specifically, just the new scheme in general.  As three of the incidents involve floating parking spaces it seems more likely those are to blame rather than the cycle lane itself.

Too click-bait-ish Road.cc, this isnt the Daily Heil or the Torygraph.  You've made SWEM out to be anti-cylist and nothing suggests that in the actual article.

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mdavidford replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
2 likes

I think you might have missed the point of Sriracha's question.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
0 likes

I don't know. The scheme essentially was a cheap way to create some segregation by taking the metre from the kerb used by cars to park to give to cyclists, then used orcas and wands to allow car parking further out. There wasn't anything else done from what I can see. So if the changes are to blame for these imaginary accidents and, as I mentioned above he has lied about there being none before, then it is quite simple to "blame" the cycle lanes for the imaginary increase.

It seems SWEM is the same as One *insert London Borough here*. Making themselves sound like they want safety but essentially wants roads to be reverted back to cars only "the way it was" and then making up loads of shit on why the new way is dangerous. 

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Flâneur replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
5 likes

As mdavidford said, you've missed the point of Sriracha's post. But I can assure you that SWEM is very much anti-cyclist. This is one of the widest roads in Edinburgh, and every house on it except around 10 has its own driveway good enough for 2+ cars, plus many have garages. Despite all this, SWEM bitched and moaned so much about the installation of cycle lanes and potential loss of on-street parking, that Edinburgh council engineered in floating car spaces (many more spaces than there are ever cars parked on that road). Now, a very small number of those (unnecessarily) parked cars allegedly being struck by clearly dangerously substandard or drunk drivers is being used by SWEM as a means of trying to get the lanes removed (which they've tried to do once already and nearly succeeded until a protest bike ride up and down the cycle lanes played a part in dissuading the council). SWEM are pond scum.

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Secret_squirrel replied to Flâneur | 2 years ago
0 likes

Thanks for the local colour!  I stand corrected!

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TheBillder replied to Flâneur | 2 years ago
4 likes

Flaneur, I think you're being unkind to ponds and scum.

I rode up Lanark Road (a major drag) when the opposition to the scheme was reported here and found the same as you - almost every house has ample off street parking for a sensible number of cars, but some houses had 5 or more. There are some flats that don't have space but this is an obvious road for a cycle lane.

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Miller replied to Flâneur | 2 years ago
1 like

Just had a look at Lanark Road on GSV. It's really wide! There is tons of space for everyone was my impression.

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Flâneur replied to Miller | 2 years ago
0 likes

Yes, and not that much traffic outside of peak times. Even when it was a '4-lane road', cars only ever drove in the middle 2 lanes due to (a) the odd parked car and (b) various sections of non-connecting bus lanes.

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