The latest newsletter from the Lothian cycle campaign group SPOKES reports that 11.8% of Edinburgh residents cycle to work. That’s brilliant news and is well above the national average, but the report also shows that all the other areas in Scotland still have alot of work to do to persuade Scottish commuters to swap four wheels for two. One striking difference is that people in large urban areas cycle to work more than those in rural ones. 4.2% of adults in urban areas usually travel by bike. This figure drops to between 0.5 – 1.5% in rural areas.
There are good reasons for this. Commutes in rural areas are longer, roads are less suitable and there is a lack of cycle lanes and infrastructure that have made cities so much safer to cycle in recently. This doesn’t mean that nobody cycles in the countryside. It’s just different.
As an adult, I fell in love with bikes while living in Edinburgh. Cycling wasn’t a sport, it was a way of getting to work, the shops, even out into the countryside at the weekend. My journeys usually had a purpose and a destination, and my bikes were cheap, heavily customised mountain bikes (skinny tyres, rack, bars) for efficiency. I used D-Locks and cable locks to secure them, but still had two bikes stolen – one from the tenement stair where it was locked securely. I was gutted on both occasions but never went to the police. It was a risk every cyclist took in the city.
I now live and work (from home) in the Scottish Borders. I still love bikes, but now I cycle as a sport. I go out FOR A CYCLE, not just to get somewhere. I own a cyclo-cross model for the trails and a rather lovely road bike for sportives, time trials and club rides. Curiously, although my bikes are much more expensive now, I am less worried about theft. It is far less common to find your bike missing here than in Edinburgh, and most of my cycling friends feel the same.
However, I’ve recently heard of three or four thefts from my local village, and thieves are increasingly aware of the areas where cyclists (and their expensive bikes) congregate. The Borders and the Highlands attract thousands of visitors through mountain bike centres and well signposted road routes. Centres like Glentress provide rich pickings for the serious bike thief. I’ve stopped being so complacent, and have registered my precious steeds with Veloeye. If the worst happens, I’ve got a much better chance of getting my bike back!