Sunday, 31 August 2008

Cycling resources around Edinburgh + Scotland

First of all - apologies for the lack of blogging. I moved house recently and it has taken a long time getting an internet connection back up and running. As ever, British Telecom were unbelievably frustrating to deal with. Useless customer advisors, ridiculous bureacracy, mistakes and sheer shoddiness.

Anyway, I now have a place to store a bike and I bought a new one a few weeks ago. I've never cycled in Edinburgh prior to this but had heard of some decent routes in and around the city. When I started using some of the tracks they exceeded all my expectations (although to be honest, these were quite low!). I live in the North of Edinburgh now, and my daily unmotorised commute takes me some 4.5 miles into the centre of Leith. The vast majority of this distance is on dedicated pedestrian/cycle paths part of a network of routes called the North Edinburgh Path Network. A useful brochure and map is available from cycleshops or on this PDF. These paths follow old railway lines across this area and allow you to get half-way across the city without encountering any motorised traffic. From Leith out to Cramond or to Murrayfield, along well-sign posted tracks. The city of Edinburgh council who look after the paths have also produced a further PDF showing additional cycling facilities in the area but resources are also available for other parts of Edinburgh and around.

This brings me neatly onto the wider picture. Sustrans is the country's leading 'Sustainable Transport' charity and has produced a series of maps that show some of the national cycling routes that exist. Their old site looks to run on an arcIMS application, which feels a bit old, but does contain a vast amount of detail. They also have a more modern version which uses Google Maps to show dedicated day routes. As you can probably imagine, this new site with the Google Mapping is much more user friendly, but sadly lacks the detail that the Sustrans main site does.

Over time I am planning to build up my own little collection of cycling routes and make these available on google maps or other mapping platforms. While the other sites are useful, I don't feel they provide nearly enough detail on how to get around, where you go when the dedicated path ends, and how to connect between the different routes. That isn't to beat them up too much - in fact, I think they are an excellent resource, and if cycling is promoted further we can force decision makers to improve the network even further.

Where do geoglobe's fit into this? Worry not, all these routes will be available within both your web browser and as KML. Now I've just to get cracking on them.

Happy cycling.

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