Around 35 cyclists (and Ward 12 councillor Susan Rae) gathered for an hour this lunchtime on Leith Walk at the junction with Pilrig Street.
Dressed in blue safety tabards, they lined the north and southbound cycle lanes as ‘human bollards’ to protest against the removal of ‘armadillos’ from the road.
Armadillos, also known as ‘orcas’, are moulded lumps (about the size of a shoebox) bolted to the road surface. They offer some (largely psychological) barrier to motorised traffic, and are attractive to local authorities because they're comparatively cheap.
Without them, say the protestors, it’s too easy for drivers to encroach – or even park – on the cycle lanes. Paint alone doesn’t work.
The recently installed armadillos were taken away after some shattered on impact, and others were viewed as a trip hazard by pedestrians unwilling to use a crossing.
The protestors (‘an informal collective of Edinburgh residents’) were initially vexed that the Council seemed to have no alternative plan for a physical separation of bicyclists and motorists.
However, Transport & Environment Convener Lesley Macinnes has since indicated that there is indeed a proposal to introduce such measures, and she will meet Spokes Lothian representatives on Wednesday to discuss them.
Whether we’ll eventually see a raised kerb (effective but expensive) or poles (visually disagreeable) or something else entirely (barracudas, perhaps, or ninja hedgehogs) remains to be seen.
[Image of four-legged armadillo from Wikipedia, Creative Commons; image of no-legged armadillo from Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester, on which blog it is apparent that their introduction to Salford in 2014 was equally unsuccessful.]
See also Letters (18.12.17).