I’m afraid this post is not going to be one of my usual random chatters about how great cycling is.
I feel it’s time to actually be heard and my way of speaking out is through my blog so I will be publishing this link in numerous locations and I urge others who care to do the same.
I feel it’s important to say that I am not attacking my local council – I know things are part of a much bigger picture but I do feel it’s important to tell the details of my communication with them as it shows how long this has been going on and why I am so frustrated.
I have been cycling from Musselburgh to Edinburgh and back in one form or another since 2012. This year as you know I have started to take the cycle paths rather than use the road for the vast majority of my journey, but I have always used the cycle path in Musselburgh which leads from Queen Margaret University to Newcraighall and in this time, the lights which are meant to light the path have never worked.
Now during summer this isn’t a big deal as it’s light enough for you to see where you are going and any other path users including dogs. However autumn and now winter means that this path is absolutely pitch black. I mean pitch black – no exaggeration. You literally cannot see your hand in front of your face let alone the path, potholes, other path users or worse anyone who means you harm.
The photo: This is just how dark it is on the path. The little dot is another cyclists light – they were less than ten feet from me.
I first raised this concern with East Lothian Council last November. I explained the situation and even that the lights had been clearly vandalised and to give them their due, I got an email back – explaining that the lights were vandalised but that they would be fixed. I heard nothing more so I chased again. I was then emailed and told that the lights were beyond economical repair and so would be replaced. I heard no more so I emailed asking when this would happen and I have been emailing asking that question now for a year. It’s now winter and again the path is pitch black and terrifying to use so I emailed again and complained that I hadn’t had an answer… eventually I got a reply saying there is no date for when the lights would be replaced.
I am now furious that public safety is so far down the list of concerns that even a year after the notification that the lights were not working that there is not so much as a plan of when and how this will be rectified. I face another winter of cycling in the dark on a secluded path just hoping that I do not get hurt or attacked. Or would an injury or worse be what actually gets East Lothian to do something about this? After all how much was spend on the new John Muir paths? Maybe if the little path at Queen Margaret University got more publicity they’d care?
Now I know I could just not use the path in winter, instead use the busy and quite dangerous road for that part of my journey but the path is in place. Our council tax has been used to provide an outdoor space for cyclists and walkers, it’s the perfect join between the paths in East Lothian and the Edinburgh paths and I am really happy that this brilliant piece of infrastructure is there and I want to encourage people to use it rather run the gauntlet on the roads. It’s just such a waste that it isn’t respected and maintained the way it should be.
I am lucky, I was able to buy some very expensive but very bright lights which make things a bit better but we shouldn’t be making cycling a past time only for those who can afford expensive equipment, after all the government are meant to be encouraging more folks to get on their bikes, get healthy and cause less pollution!
I have now written to my local councillors and MSPs for my area and asked them to step in. I am also asking cycle groups, bloggers and media folks to get involved as it is clear that safety is far lower on the list of priorities than it should be.