The Tesco’s supermarket at Canonmills, right alongside a busy cycle path, has recently spent heavily on new tarmac, road markings, car park and other improvements. But things are not so rosy if you are trying to get to their store by bike or on foot – it is now even more dangerous and inconvenient than before.
For many years, the only way to get from the path to their shop was to squeeze through a tiny gap in the hedge. After the Rodney Street tunnel was reopened, giving Tesco’s access to a whole new market in the New Town, people began forcing their own way through the thornbushes rather than use the convoluted “designated” gap in the hedge – both accesses put you straight into the path of oncoming traffic with little or no warning to motorists. Once you’d made it through with your bike, the cycle parking provided for their customers rates as some of the worst in Edinburgh – narrow, congested and badly designed. Despite a massive car park, and being on the edge of a busy cycle path, there is only room for about 14 bikes, and even when the stands are empty, it’s easier not to use them. There are sometimes twice as many bikes as there is space, locked to up to anything and everything nearby. Look carefully in the photo below and you’ll see how the cycle racks are designed to make your bike fall over.
When work on the entrance to the car park and supermarket started some weeks ago, there was a hope that things might improve. However, not only have they failed to make things safer and more convenient for pedestrians and cyclists to get into their shop, they’ve actually spent money to make it worse.
The extremely narrow formal entrance remains as narrow, except a brand new sign on the path welcoming you to their shop makes it an even tighter squeeze. A ten foot high blue sign saying “goodbye” makes sure that you can’t see any oncoming traffic and they can’t see you until you step out. The brand new tarmac and road markings stop just short of the zebra crossing, which is almost faded away.
The shopping trolleys all have beautiful brand new wooden shelters so that they don’t get wet. The old-fashioned and useless cycle parking has stayed exactly the same.
No new entrance has been created for people coming from the Rodney Street tunnel end, they still have to squeeze through the thorn bushes.
To make sure things are unpleasant for people using the path, new landscaping under the thorn bushes includes inches of bark chippings to keep the weeds down. It is several inches higher than the path’s tarmac, and will soon wash down onto the path making the surface even muddier and unpleasant than it already is. To add insult to injury, when they clipped all the hedges, the cuttings have been dumped on the path side of the hedge – it looks great from the car park, less so for passers by on the paths.
At a time that it is widely reported that Tesco’s is suffering a drop in its market share, you would have thought that they would do anything to encourage as many shoppers as possible, be they on bike or on foot, and this branch is lucky to be alongside a heavily-used path. Ironically, in 2012 the Innertube map was shortlisted for an award as part of Climate Week – sponsored by Tesco’s! At the award ceremony, in the speech from the sponsor we were told how committed Tesco’s was to encouraging travel to their stores by carbon neutral means – ie on foot and by bike. It’s a shame therefore that at Canonmills, not only are they doing nothing to make bike and pedestrian access easier, they have actually made it more unpleasant an even dangerous!