Traffic-free cycling in Edinburgh

For those of us who like to keep fit and enhance our green credentials by cycling while on holiday, there’s a great new aid to help us navigate across the fifty miles or so of Edinburgh’s dedicated cycle paths.

The Bike Station, a city-based charity that recycles bikes, has launched an interactive map which it plans to update regularly using “ambassadors” with access to mobile technology.

Named the “Innertube Map” the project gives up-to-date information on the city’s great network of informal, car-free routes. The smart phone technology used lets the ambassadors effectively update information in real-time, to report incidents or changes to routes using photos and reports.

So if you want to picnic on the Meadows in the south, then visit Britannia at Ocean Terminal on the Shore via the sights of the city centre, you can be confident that the latest information is available on the best way to reach your destination by bike.

If you are thinking of hiring a bike (or indeed if you’ve brought your own), try it out; these routes typically use old railway lines and paths through lovely scenic parks that will keep you away from the traditional roads, reducing your proximity to traffic and pollution. Research suggests that you need only be twenty metres away from traffic to benefit from much reduced pollution levels. So much better then if you can cycle from Trinity to Silverknowes Golf Club for example, along the old railway cutting without risk of fumes or traffic.

The map itself is styled on the London Underground map, topological rather than geographically accurate as well as colour-coded for easy “on-the-move” reading. It is available to view online or as a downloadable PDF from the Bike Station website, www.thebikestation.org.uk. The map displays many of the non-street routes across the city, for example from Haymarket and Cramond in the west to Leith in the east. Future plans in conjunction with the Edinburgh and Lothian Green Space Trust aim to provide information on conservation or maintenance.

In short, this should be a great development for those of us who like to get around using pedal power during our visit to Auld Reekie!