Waverley Fortress Whinge

I’m in a bad mood and I have a blog. So here, have a whinge.

I’m not the only one thinking of the changes to Waverley Station are really just turning it into a fortress. Beyond how annoying it is to have to walk behind slow pedestrians on a very narrow pedestrian walkway, I’m fully expecting that there’s going to be an injury as a result of the location of the barriers at the top of the walkway.

I was regularly commuting from the North end of town when the conversion from Train Station to Fortress commenced. I started my coast down Waverley Bridge and found, out of nowhere, that there was a barrier preventing me from continuing to coast down the North Ramp into the station. I stopped abruptly at the barrier, dismounted and walked, certain there was a mistake — they had only JUST made North Ramp a dedicated cycle space! I wondered what they were up to that they’d need to temporarily close the ramp. Ooh, were they going to actually paint a cycle lane to let the pedestrians know that they ought not stand there and smoke? No.The next day was when I’d spotted the signs that said that this was going to be the way it is until further notice. No official explanation why. I tweeted Network Rail to ask, no response. I emailed to ask why they had to close it to cyclists, no response. I know, now, that many other cyclists also emailed and wrote letters, but still no response. Sure, we’ve got theories, but none that explain the blanket ban.

Time passes, annoyance increases.

I’m now commuting from the South end of town, and could much more easily enter the station from the Market Street entrance…. But the escalators are a bit too steep to take the bike down, the bike is a bit heavy for carrying down two flights of stairs, and the lifts are slow. Besides which, there’s road works on Market Street so I need to get past the temporary lights, navigate around the potholes, and squeeze between the cones to dismount in the first place. It’s a stressful way to end an otherwise lovely journey.

I tried going North up Waverley Bridge and turning right down the South Ramp. I wait for traffic and, as soon as it’s clear, I turn across traffic — to find there’s nowhere safe to dismount. The orange-and-white barriers that they’ve installed more recently are flush with the kerb against a moving lane of traffic. So traffic needs to be clear enough not just for me to cross traffic, but for me to cross traffic, slow to a stop, dismount, and get onto the pavement. Sure, there’s a bit of paint on the road to say that the kerb is meant to come out further than it physically does, but tell that to a taxi that’s just pulled out and is skirting the kerb closely because there’s a bus coming the opposite direction.

I had a word with the Network Rail staff in the office to ask if they could, at VERY least, move the orange-and-white barriers further back so I at least had somewhere to dismount. The fellow at the desk looked genuinely surprised that he’d not considered cyclists needing to dismount somewhere, to transition from being a vehicle to being a pedestrian on their stupidly narrow ramp footways. He said he’d speak to his manager about it. The next day, one of blocks forming the barrier at the top of each ramp was moved to the side, giving me somewhere to cycle to where I could dismount. By the following day it looked like the barrier blocks had been moved back.

Seriously. Waverley Station planners, whoever you may be, this is ridiculous and dangerous — fix it.

Why I Pedalled on Parliament

Yesterday was the third Pedal on Parliament. This year, rather than simply riding with the crowd, I heeded the call to arms and found myself marshalling at St. Mary’s Street, helping slow down (and stop) cyclists briefly as the lovely traffic police stopped cross-traffic and removed the barriers.

I was told that the only problem with marshalling down the road is that you don’t get the fun of joining in ringing a bike bell with everyone else or exhilaration of being part of the crowd moving down the Royal Mile — but I had the distinct pleasure of seeing every single cyclist pass by me on their way to the Scottish Parliament.

It’s seeing the crowd there that really drove home why I wanted to be there, why I needed to help —

I’m not alone on these streets.

There are hundreds of us, thousands of us. We are men, women, and children. We are families with wee bairns on balance bikes, we are teens with stereos, we are lovely ladies and men in lycra.

Some of us came in our Sunday best and some came out out in our most casual of jeans. Some of us wore fluorescent jackets and helmets, some wore just helmets, some wore nothing special at all. Some of us rode recumbants, tandems, racing bikes, mountain bikes, folders, bikes with trailers and tagalongs, and some of us walked.

And we were all there, together, showing that we, people of all ages and abilities, have one thing in common:

We want Scotland to be a cycle-friendly country. And we want it now.

If you want to support Pedal on Parliament, please contact your MP, MSP or local counsellor and tell them that you want to see more! You can also donate to Pedal on Parliament through the PayPal link on their website.

Burley Travoy Pack Mule

I walked up to the counter at the local grocery store, my shopping trolly full nearly to the brim. I set the separator down at the end of the belt, to make it stop moving. I then proceeded to unload the trolley while the cashier dealt with the previous customer who was still bagging her groceries. I put the large, heavy things closest to the till, the light bread and eggs near the end of the belt, and left the giant bag of pasta to the very end. By the time I was finished, the previous customer had left and the cashier turned his attention to me:
“Do you want help packing?”

It’s not my favourite question, for many reasons, but I answered as I always do when I have my bicycle trailer with me:
“No, it’s ok. I’ll just fit it all in this bag.”

At this point, of course, the trailer was still collapsed and in the trolley. It didn’t look like much and it certainly didn’t look like it’d fit a trolley worth of groceries into it, once full. The cashier looked at me, very puzzled. “It’s a big bag. I swear, I’ll unfold it, it’ll fit.” He nodded in a way that made it clear that he didn’t believe me but he was going to humour me because I am a paying customer.

Item by item, I packed the bag. Heavy items went to the bottom, the lighter and crushable things on top. A grocery Tetris game. Sure enough, I was able to pack it all into the bag, minus the huge bag of pasta that I lashed to the top of the trailer. The look of confusion on the cashier’s face melted away to boredom. Can’t impress everyone.

Burley Travoy trailer full of groceries
Bike trailer full of groceries, en-route home

I got it home and took a picture of all of it unloaded. About two weeks of food for me and my other half — about half what would fit in the boot of our old Renault Clio but easily five or six times what I once carried in a rucksack.

Groceries spread across the dining table
The amount of groceries that can fit into the Burley Travoy bike trailer

People keep telling me that they can’t really carry much when they’re cycling — but that’s because they keep thinking of their bike as only what they can fit in their rucksack. But there’s a whole world out there of pannier bags and trailers that’ll completely change how you can use your bike. Oh, and the bike AND the trailer fit in that tiny space under the stairs when I’m done.