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a woman standing in front of a bicycle


Getting Cycling in Edinburgh

By SarahWhelan 10 Mar 2020

Whether you live on campus, at home or have a flat in the city centre, cycling can be an excellent way to get from A to B.

It is cheaper than driving or public transport, it keeps you active, reduces your carbon footprint and can be a great way to de-stress (just avoid Princes St at rush hour!).

So you're going to start cycling. Great!

Now you just need a bike. If you don't already have access to one, here are some options:

  • Buy 2nd hand. The Edinburgh Bike Station has a great selection of 2nd hand bikes that will be checked by a qualified mechanic.
  • Hire a bike. Cycle Connections has a fleet of 20 hybrid bikes available for hire (£40 per semester) and new for summer 2020 are e-bikes!
  • Use a Just Eat Cycles Bike. Located in University Square, Just Eat Cycles can be hired for 1 hour, 1 day or a whole year! (Students get a discount on the year pass- £40)
  • Dig your friends/parents/siblings one out of the shed. If it needs some love bring it along to our monthly Dr Bike sessions for advice or try a Fix Your Own Bike session at the Edinburgh Bike Station.

So you have the bike. Next step is getting the right kit.

No, don't worry, you don't need to become a lycra clad racer (unless that's your thing!)

Here are 5 things that can be really handy or 100% neccessary

  • Bike Lights: You are legally required to have a white front light and a red rear light on your bike when cycling between dusk and dawn.
  • Helmet: It isn't a legal requirement but protecting your noggin is always a good idea. Plus they keep your head warm in winter.
  • Lock: Sadly Edinburgh has a way of disappearing bikes. Use a D-lock for extra security and attach it through the frame and rear wheel. 
  • Waterproof jacket: It is Scotland, it IS going to rain. A good lightweight jacket will come in useful and can be packed away easily.
  • Hex keys: AKA Alan keys. There are a lot of bolts on modern bikes that are adjustable using a hex key i.e. saddles, handle bars, bottle cages. Having a set on you is going to come in useful at one point.

Cycling is amazingly freeing, nothing beats passing all the cars in traffic as you glide home but there are some rules of the road you should be aware of:

  1. It is illegal to cycle on pavements UNLESS it is a shared use path
  2. Bike lights are required on the front and rear of your bike between dusk and dawn
  3. Road signs and traffic lights still apply to cyclists. A one way road is still a one way road for cyclists unless specified otherwise.
  4. You should NOT ride a bike under the influence. Either walk your bike home after the party or leave it and pick it up the next day (great excuse to get out of bed and pick up those post-nightout-movie-marathon-munchies)

Some Edinburgh Specific Tips:

  1. Watch out for tram lines, if you need to cross them do so with your wheel at right angles to the track
  2. You are allowed to cycle in bus lanes but be aware of buses moving in and stopping. If you cant see a buses wing mirrors from behind, the chances are the driver can't see you. 
  3. If you find an issue with a cycle lane, potholes or gritting report to your local council. This will be East Lothian Council if you live on or near campus. 

You are now all set to cycle, you just need to find the routes...

Cyclists are allowed on all public roads except motorways but if you are new to cycling you might want to start off on routes with segregated cycle paths so that you are separated from other vehicles. 

  • CycleStreets is a great website for planning cycle routes and you can specify quickest or quietest too.
  • Sustrans website has maps of all the cycle routes across Britain. The routes are colour coded depending on whether they are on or off road.
  • There are plenty of cycle route options for those heading to QMU. National Cycle Route 1 will take you from the Meadows to campus and out to Dalkeith. The 76 will take you from Dunbar through Musselburgh to campus and the 196 will bring you in from Penicuik. 

If you have any questions, would like FREE puncture kits, tyre levers, reflectors or more, or you would like to hire a bike send a message to us at Cycle Connections.

Enjoy life on two wheels!

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