On the way back from yesterday's berry picking expedition, we stopped off to do a little shopping. The North Edinburgh Path Network (NEPN), which is what enabled our run yesterday to be mostly off-road, runs past a substantial shopping complex - what Americans call 'big box' shops. While we get most of our meat and veg at the farmer's market, there are always a few things that need to come from the supermarket. So, having the trailer, we stopped and did a big family shop.
On the one hand, this was easy, there is a short path off the main route, which takes a couple of yards to get to a toucan crossing. But here the challenge starts. The toucan crossing is protected by chicanes, which would be fine if they weren't at the bottom of a slight slope, and with a road on the other side. Then, once you get across the road, there's a short shared-use path. Except it's not marked as shared-use, and it winds past a small playpark, so is usually clogged with harassed mums with toddlers and pushchairs.
But all that's basically okay compared to where the path dumps you out. Which is over a kerb into full-on traffic. Is this a candidate for Edinburgh's most useless (and shortest) bikelane?
From there on in, although there's lots of bike parking available, you're stuck on roads and roundabouts. The pavements and zebra-crossings are okay for pedestrians (if not always where they ought to be), but there's no indication that cyclists are allowed on the pavements. And we're definitely not supposed to ride across zebra crossings. The way out is even worse - there's no way to get back on the access path, so you end up in a scary multi-lane thing with dodgy lane-changing, trying to make a right-turn so as to get back to the NEPN, which is only a few yards away, but feels like another world.
And that's why we don't just need 'infrastructure'. We need joined-up infrastructure, which actually works rather than putting cyclists into danger, which isn't just drawn by some engineers or planners to 'tick boxes', but actually thought about by people who cycle.