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Safe commuting in Edinburgh during Covid-19

Edinburgh has opened up active travel commutes for essential workers, helping to keep the city on the move during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A person cycles uphill, seperated from motor traffic by orange and white stripped cylinders. A blue car is to one side of the cyclist, keeping a safe distance.
Spaces for People measures on Crewe Road have made it easier and safer for people cycling to work at the Western Infirmary. Neil Hanna/Sustrans

The City of Edinburgh Council launched its £5 million Spaces for people project in partnership with Sustrans Scotland.

The temporary changes seen across Edinburgh have been put in place to support physical distancing and active travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Protected cycle lanes, funded through Spaces for People, have been introduced on routes to two hospitals within the city.

Streets for Everyone: Crewe Road, Edinburgh –

Physical barriers have been added to pre-existing painted cycle lanes on Crewe Road South and Ferry Road to protect cyclists from vehicle traffic on the streets.

Similar protection has been introduced on Dalkeith Road to better enable cycling to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Many Edinburgh residents don’t have access to a car, so creating safe cycling routes to hospitals has been crucial for providing access to hospitals for both service users and staff.

The importance of safe routes

Crewe Road connects North Edinburgh with the west end of the city centre. Protected cycle lanes run along the adjoining Ferry Road to provide a physically protected route for residents to access amenities and work in the west end.

As traffic gradually returned to the streets, it was necessary to provide protective options to allow people to continue cycling.

51% of people in Edinburgh are concerned about cycling safety. Providing simple interventions such as these traffic wands allows people to feel safer when using cycle lanes along the road.

Black and white stripped cylinders mounted in kerb-like bases separate motor traffic and a cycle lane on Lothian Road
Traffic wands are uses to create a temporary cycle lane and space for pedestrians on Lothian Road, Edinburgh. Neil Hanna/Sustrans.

In May, Cllr Lesley MacInnes said:

As offices and worksites begin to return, we will address arterial routes to support commuters.”

The safe routes along Ferry Road and Crewe Road have helped some people to cycle who didn’t feel confident to do so previously.

Cycling for Heroes

During the height of lockdown, key workers and other NHS staff were still travelling to work.

Helping key workers get to work during the pandemic has been a priority for Sustrans and our partners. We supported 100 free cycle hire scheme passes and 110 free 4-month passes for key workers. We also produced a map cycle offers and discounts available to all key workers (including NHS staff) across the UK.

A person unlocks a Transport for Edinburgh hire bike from a rack on Bristo Square.
Free cycle hire passes helped key workers stay on the move when other transport options were limited. John Linton/Sustrans.

The Bike Station launched its Hero Bikes scheme back in April, donating refurbished bikes to key workers.

Bridge 8 Hub/ Bikes for Refugees also provided free loans of bikes to key workers.