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City of Edinburgh Active Travel Plan

The Active Travel Action Plan is a package of actions designed to promote cycling and walking for all in the City of Edinburgh. It was designed with several partners, and has a timeframe from between 2010 and 2020.

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How It Started

In June 2010, the Scottish Government unveiled its Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, setting out a framework for cycling to account for ten per cent of all journeys being made by bike by 2020, a tenfold increase on the 1 one per cent of all journeys currently made across the whole of Scotland.

To meet these national objectives, the City of Edinburgh Council drew up an Active Travel Action Plan in 2010. This aims to achieve more people walking and cycling in the city, more safely and more often.

The Plan encompasses infrastructure, marketing and education, and seeks to lower or remove the physical, informational and social barriers to walking and cycling. Regarding cycling, the main elements of the plan are:

- To improve the quality and extend the quantity of the cycle network
- To improve cycle safety, and road user behaviour across all modes
- To market the advantages and promote the status of cycling
- To improve cycle access, storage and parking.

Partners Involved

The major partners were Sustrans and NHS Lothian. Other partners, who were closely involved at the consultation stage, include cycling campaign group Spokes, the University of Edinburgh, Living Streets Scotland, and Essential Edinburgh, the city’s business interest group. The Scottish Government were also involved, both directly, and through the funding that they provided to Sustrans.


The Family Network is intended to broaden the appeal of cycling by upgrading on-road links between existing off-road cycle routes. The aim is to create a comprehensive network of quiet roads and cycle paths serving popular destinations, providing better links to and across the city centre, improved signage being a key part of this.

Design work is underway to upgrade priority city centre areas. Some upgrades to the off-road network have already been put in place.

They will deliver on-street improvements to make cycling safer and more convenient for everyday cyclists; and improving the parts of the city with the greatest potential to generate bike trips, creating a cycle friendly city.

Edinburgh’s first Quality Bike Corridor, with improvements from George IV Bridge to the University’s Kings Buildings, will be complete in June; this is complemented by a 20mph speed limit pilot.

Bike Parking. About 15 - 20 new sites have been installed during 2011 - 2012, with racks installed in Morningside, Bruntsfield and Tollcross. We have invited proposals from people interested in piloting secure on-street bike parking in tenement areas.

The plan commits to regular maintenance of white lines and coloured surfacing of cycle lanes and advanced stop lines. Two kilometres of cycle path have been upgraded through surfacing improvements and lighting, and a further 2.5km of towpath have benefited from solar-powered LED lighting. Discussions are underway how to improve vegetation maintenance and litter clearance on the off-road network.

Promotion and Training. Promotion will be integrated with the infrastructure improvements. This will be helped by a recently successful bid for around £75,000 of European funding over the years 2012 to 2015 to supplement our marketing. The Council aims to provide at least 50% of Primary 6 children with School Cycle Training by 2014.

Results and Impact

The Council’s ATAP is at too early a stage for its impact to be detected by statistical analyses such as the Scottish Household Survey, but the trend of increasing cycle use in Edinburgh appears to be continuing.

In 2011 the number of cyclists entering the city at the time of the Council’s November cordon count rose to 1,073 per hour, a significant increase of 25.6% on 2009.

Lessons Learned

The policy design and consultation process was carried out without any major difficulties; however, the exercise has highlighted the value of partnership working, as both internal and external partners made useful policy content contributions. Some of the planned actions would have been, and may still be, difficult to accomplish given the current fiscal situation, but the document served as an effective ‘bidding document,’ and the Administration decided to increase the cycling budget to 5% of the entire transport capital and revenue budgets, representing a significant increase on previous funding.

What's next for the project?

The ATAP has provided a clear roadmap for cycle infrastructure development in the city. This is one of the main factors behind the Council Administration deciding to devote 5% of its entire capital and revenue budget to cycling development, and to increase this percentage by at least a further 1% year on year until 2018.

The next steps are to continue to implement the actions agreed in the plan; to review all actions and their timescales; and to add to / remove from these actions as necessary.
Edinburgh was selected to be the only ‘Cycling Hero’ city in the UK to take part in the Cycling Heroes Advancing sustainable Mobility Practice (CHAMP) project, and so policy and cycling officers have been visiting six European city to investigate further best practice and innovations.

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Lead Contact Name

Phil Noble


Planning Officer


City of Edinburgh Council


City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1YJ

Phone Number

0131 469 3633

Email Address


City Chambers High Street Edinburgh EH1 1YJ

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