Keeping up with the Joneses
Compared to their European neighbours, Scottish cities aren’t bike-friendly. Amsterdam, Copenhagen and even good old London town have pedalled ahead, while the likes of Glasgow and Edinburgh, by failing to utilise the benefits of two-wheeled transport, have lagged behind.
Scottish cities struggle with traffic congestion, poor performing bus and bike networks and inhospitable pedestrian environments. The result – a negative impact on residents and tourists alike. And due to these growing transport problems, keeping up with the Joneses, by providing bicycle lanes, could be the solution.
The pros of investing in bike lanes are obvious. Firstly, people will use bikes more often, making travelling by bike easy and safe. This increases overall cycling rates, and encourages people who otherwise wouldn’t even consider cycling to cycle. It also results in drivers becoming more aware of the presence of cyclists, which makes them pay closer attention.
This reduces the number of accidents involving cyclists. An accident involving a cyclist can result in serious injuries, losses and damages to all parties concerned. If you have been involved in an accident, as either a cyclist or a driver, you should contact an experienced personal injury solicitor as soon as possible.
Other benefits of cycle lanes include that customers tend to visit shops more, as they can easily find a safe place to leave their bike. Finally, bikes are better for the environment and reduce traffic congestion. Not to mention the fact that cycling is better for people’s health.
So, what’s the problem?
A close look at American research has shown that bike lanes in cities aren’t only good for both cyclists and road traffic, but also have a positive impact on local businesses.
But even though bicycle lanes have been proven to have many positive impacts, there is still one main obstacle – business owners. Businesses worry that bike lanes cut down customer traffic; meaning less people will go into their shops.
They believe customers primarily access businesses by car so removing street parking, to replace with bicycle lanes, affects their business.
Research has proven that this is a common misconception, but who can blame them? Business owners are provided with no research on the benefits of bike lanes to their business.
Bike lane benefits
The installation of bike lanes allow businesses and cities to thrive by:
- Increasing retail visibility and the volume of customers.
- Giving workers the opportunity to be healthier and more productive by cycling to work.
- Making properties more desirable by removing traffic congestion.
How can we find a solution for everyone? Apart from the obvious advantages of introducing cycle lanes, providing business owners with information on the benefits of cycle lanes is a step in the right direction. Recent studies show that investing in bike improvements boosts small business. It’s important that business owners are kept informed of this.
Edinburgh paves the way
In March 2013 Edinburgh City Council announced plans to make the city centre more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists by introducing more cycle lanes.
These plans would make changes to both Princes Street and George Street, which would free up space for cycle lanes in Edinburgh. So how would this benefit people?
Councillor Ian Perry, the city’s planning convener, said: “We want to encourage more people to come into the city centre, whether it’s to shop, relax, work or socialise. It’s about making sure the city centre continues to thrive both as a leisure, business and tourism destination and as an attractive place for people to live in. One of the key things I’m interested in is creating a more ‘mixed use’ Princes Street, with more residential properties and a variety of restaurant, cafe and bar spaces at ground level, so that the street is bustling at night as well as by day.”
Again, we see how these benefits are a result of encouraging more people to come into the city centre by cycling. This in turn would increase store revenue in the long term.
Setting a good example
Bike-friendly European cities are paving the way for other cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow to embrace the use of bicycles. The benefits are numerous. ‘Being bike friendly makes everyone a winner’ is the take home message here.