Leader comment: Edinburgh, finally, joins global cycle revolution

Glasgow's nextbike scheme is set to grow (Picture: John Devlin)
Glasgow's nextbike scheme is set to grow (Picture: John Devlin)
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Finally, the flagship scheme of what is a global cycling revolution has arrived in Scotland’s capital. London has its ‘Boris Bikes’, Glasgow’s version is the nextbike, Paris boasts more than 20,000 Velib bicycles, there’s Citi Bike in New York City and, even that most car-obsessed of cities, Los Angeles, there is Metro Bike Share.

Finally, the flagship scheme of what is a global cycling revolution has arrived in Scotland’s capital. London has its ‘Boris Bikes’, Glasgow’s version is the nextbike, Paris boasts more than 20,000 Velib bicycles, there’s Citi Bike in New York City and, even that most car-obsessed of cities, Los Angeles, there is Metro Bike Share.

Scientists are increasingly discovering just how bad the sedentary lifestyle of many people in the modern world is for our health.

Someone who drives to an office, to work in front of a computer at a desk, then drives home to spend an evening on the sofa, could find themselves in the seated position for the vast majority of their day. Given our busy lives, turning the daily commute into a form of exercise makes sense.

READ MORE: Pilot Edinburgh cycle hire scheme to be launched

Edinburgh’s scheme will start with at least 500 ordinary bicycles but also 100 electric bicycles. The latter are important as they will enable those of us who might otherwise dread attempting to summit the Mound using pedal power alone to participate. Given the at-times fractious relations between motorists and cyclists, some may not exactly welcome the arrival of hundreds of new bikes on the city’s streets. Those inspired to take up cycling for the first time or after a long break should familiarise themselves with the rules of the road and how to travel about the city safely, for their own sake and for that of their fellow road users.

And, for their part, drivers should recognise the world is changing and cycling is becoming a part of everyday life for many. And they should realise they will benefit from the resulting reduction in congestion, as people switch from car to bicycle, helping to speed up journeys for everyone around the city.

But cycle hire schemes are only part of the transition to healthier forms of transport. Creating more cycle paths segregated from motorised transport is key as they help reassure those who are put off the idea of cycling by the understandable fear of being hit by a car, van or lorry. Walking is, of course, our original means of getting about. We seemed to forget that in the middle of the last century with pedestrians relegated to second-class citizens in some places, as city planners gave priority to cars.

Ensuring travelling on foot does not involve complicated detours and abruptly truncated pavements will help us remember that we are a bipedal animal.