Virtuous cycle

I read with interest your report (25 October) of discussions within Aberdeen City Council on whether or not to invest in a tram line. We in Edinburgh have had well-publicised difficulties with trams, but even had that project gone well, I would suggest there are alternative sustainable transport modes which should be considered way before trams.

In fact, the single most cost-effective investment is invariably in active travel and specifically cycling.

In Copenhagen, for example, cyclists are estimated to save the city 17 euro cents for every kilometre travelled. This is because there is no damage to the road, no pollution and little associated need for public transport subsidy.

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Importantly, average precipitation levels in Aberdeen are similar to Copenhagen, so the argument that “the weather’s better there” does not really apply.

Or look at Amsterdam, where the annual public transport subsidy is twice the annual cycling investment level, yet twice as many journeys are made by bike, in the city centre area at least.

Twice the output for half the cost, and that is without taking into account health and productivity benefits.

Cycling investment supports economic growth and activity, is 100 per cent sustainable and makes the urban environment more liveable. There is no reason why Scotland’s oil capital cannot become a thriving cycle city.

Jim Orr

Transport vice convener for the City of Edinburgh Council (SNP)

I disagree profoundly with Neil McDonald (Letters, 28 October). In 1977 I decided not to learn to drive a car owing to the then available evidence about the harmful effect of car pollution on health.

In the following decades, research has only confirmed my decision: car pollution is responsible for the premature demise of thousands of people each year, mainly the very young and elderly, as well as contributing to increased cases of asthma and other pulmonary and cardiac disorders.

In addition, there is the role of car pollution in climate change, and the thousands of pedestrians killed more directly by cars each year.

So by all means charge me as a cyclist for road tax and third-party insurance, but offset that cost against the undoubted benefits I provide by not being a car driver.

Neil Sinclair

Clarence Street


On a recent visit to Edinburgh we walked along the pathway of the old railway line in Trinity.

We were appalled at the speed and lack of warning of cyclists on a path which is used by families on foot. There is no control over use of the path and the risk of an accident – especially to a young child – must be high.

Could I suggest that there should be notices for cyclists to sound their bells when coming up behind pedestrians and that the pathway should have a white line as a guide for cyclists on one side and pedestrians on the other?

Could I also propose that the city authorities look into the situation before there is a serious accident (for which they might be in some measure liable)?

Robert Greenshields