The Innertube map
The Innertube map was developed by the Bike Station as part of the Climate Challenge Fund project Find a better way to work. To develop the map further, the Bike Station and Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust who were awarded over £98,000 funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund for a further twelve months to carry out conservation work along the paths in the North of Edinburgh, as well as to improve the signage and other amenities, in conjunction with others including City of Edinburgh Council. An interactive map and website will demonstrate to cyclists and walkers alike the potential and extent of Edinburgh’s paths as a means of moving about the city.
The map was launched officially at the Map Reading Room, part of the National Library of Scotland, on 24th February 2011 and by the start of June 2011, 25,000 copies had been distributed and as many copies again downloaded from our website.
Edinburgh is pretty unique in the UK in having a network of off-street, totally traffic-free cycle and footpaths spanning the city. Given that many of these routes were once railway lines, we have taken inspiration from the London Underground to chart Edinburgh’s cycleways in a clear, easy-to use map. Every line on our map is an uninterrupted, car-free bike and footway.
Background to the map
Edinburgh has been at the forefront of cycle mapping since the 19th century. Bartholomew‘s (once based just round the corner from the Bike Station in Edinburgh) produced amongst the earliest and most famous original cycle maps covering many parts of the UK, in conjunction with the Cycle Touring Club, when cycle touring was at its heyday. Many other Edinburgh cartographers soon followed suit. The craze for cycle mapping carried on until the popularity of motor cars took over. Fast forward to the 1980s, and the importance of cycling as a means of transport meant that people again felt the need to map the streets for cyclists. There were few cycle facilities then, so the emphasis was on quiet streets. Edinburgh Council began to produce some maps, focusing on those off-street paths that there were. Spokes, the Edinburgh and Lothians cycle campaign, seeing the need, then began producing detailed cycling maps of the city, with the first edition in 1985. These maps have continued to the present day, with the most recent Edinburgh Spokes map coming out in 2016.
Cycle maps of West, East and Midlothian, as well as Glasgow have followed suit. In many ways, these maps follow the rich tradition of Bartholomew’s 100 years before. These maps remain the authoritative cycle maps for Edinburgh. Sustrans have taken mapping one stage further by creating and upgrading long-distance cycle paths across the UK – the National Cycle Network, several of which go through Edinburgh. Their routes come accompanied with great maps and information sheets.
The Spokes map shows all the off-street paths, as well as the rest of the city, with all its roads and streets, graded according to how good they are from a cyclist’s point of view. We wanted something that just showed the off-street paths, and not just as a map for navigation, but as something that would double as a poster for cycling in the city, something that would show just how extensive the network of paths is for commuter and leisure journeys, and not just for cyclists but for walkers too. But as far as we were aware or could find, nowhere else had mapped cycle routes in this way, so would it work? And would it look good and be useful?
From an early felt-tip sketch of just the old railway lines in the North of the city, the designers from the Hillside Agency (based 100m from the end of the New Town – the Shore line) proved it might work and set about designing it. They then added in more lines – the Innocent Railway line from St Leonard’s to Brunstane, the Water of Leith Path and the Union Canal. We cycled to Portobello, and assessed how interconnected Silverknowes Promenade was to the line to the Waterfront. They then became lines on the map too. There was debate about showing the Meadows paths and the first draft looked like a bit too much like a Swastika in the middle of the city. Eventually, as the print deadline approached, we settled on this, our version one.
What about the missing paths? Connections between paths?
There are other routes that could have been added, and many people involved in producing the map argued for and against various options. There are routes that almost made it, and hopefully, with a bit of tarmac or other work, will appear on future maps. We also thought about on-road links between the routes – in many cases, there are easily-navigable on-road routes linking the paths, but we didn’t want to give a false impression, and in any case the Spokes maps show these perfectly. In the future, as signage improves, other versions may show these. Some decisions are purely subjective, and opinion will differ. We are now on version two – other versions will follow. But let us know your thoughts – innertube @ thebikestation.org.uk.
Innertube Map or come and pick up a copy at the Edinburgh Bike Station. For bulk supplies, please get in touch.
Innertube Map® is a registered trademark of Recycle to Cycle Ltd under UK Trade Mark registration no.2575754.