There are three ways across (that I know of) but until yesterday I had only ever used one of them. And that's because they are impossible to find and crap when you get there.
Can't go under it: I use the Telfer subway quite a lot to get from Fountainbridge to the Dalry Road and Haymarket. It's a nice off-road route to our closest Lidl and I've been this way a few times recently with my kids, stocking up on lebkuchen and stollen. It ought to be a good route to and from the Russel Road access to the North Edinburgh Path Network, but it isn't.
If you're on foot you need to have good eyesight to watch out for dogdirt, and you know to watch out for the cyclists coming around downhills on blind corners -- three of them (if you include the path to Lidl). Oh, and the bollards on the Dalry end aren't wide enough for our trailer, and the crossing at the Fountainbridge is misaligned, and not a toucan. And it's not at all well signposted from the Dalry side. So all in all, not a route that signals 'we've been thinking how we can make life easier for bike users".
Can't go across it: The Springside 'zig-zag' is the newest crossing point, and while I'd heard about it, and seen it from the bus, I'd not appreciated its true horror. it was included on a 'quiet route' by cyclestreets, which makes sense - it's the sort of infrastructure that would be appreciated by those not wanting to venture onto the busy streets around there. Once you find the Fountainbridge access point, the route takes you down a reasonably wide, well-signed shared use pavement between two new housing developments, to a downhill slope that takes you to a toucan crossing, and onto another shared use pavement. So far, so good. but, faced with a wide, gently sloping space and the need to get cyclists, buggies, and pedestrians up and down, they built what you see here - two sets of stairs, with a windy cobbled ramp in the middle. The incline on the ramps is nice and gentle, but it takes forever, and the corners are too tight to negotiate easily even on my 'nippy' folder. Worst of all, it pushed each user into the footway repeatedly.
Can't go over it: the final route, I have yet to find, despite cycling this area regularly. I am told that it crosses over the Western Approach and takes cyclists to Festival Square (which may soon be renamed Mandela Square). If I find it, I'll let you know.
All of these routes have one thing in common (other than that they've been poorly designed) they've all been built into developments. It's pretty clear that they've been tacked on by developers, obliged to make their developments accessible to bus stops and footpaths in order to secure planning permission, but with no real thought to its actual usability.
What's frustrating is the potential that's been missed, and the resources that have gone into these underutilised feats of engineering. Why are they so hard to find and use? Why are they not 'intuitive' ? Why don't they make people want to use them?
Even more frustrating is that the most used one -- the Telfer subway -- is probably the worst designed - bringing cyclists and pedestrians into conflict needlessly day after day.
Is there any way past this wasteful squandering of space and potential to make cities that are permeable and accessible and liveable? Where are the people with expertise in these areas? and how do we get their knowledge and ideas spread more widely?