Bad news from Tesco’s at Canonmills.

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.

Dumped hedge clippings

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!

Mark Sydenham
Mark Sydenham

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  1. Mark SydenhamMark Sydenham Post author

    UPDATE: It has been pointed out that, sadly, it was the Edinburgh Council Planning Department who approved the application to site the new signs. They deemed there to be no “public safety issues” because all they took into account was the safety of motorists – “drivers using the foodstore will expect to see signs. There are no objections to the proposal on safety grounds”.

  2. AvatarDave H (@BCCletts)


    Make sure Tesco are advised of the hazard and formally acknowledge receipt of that notification. This will then be a clear piece of evidence in the event of an incident they have failed to demonstrate a duty of care for which they may be liable under Section 3 of HSAW Act for any incident involving a non employee on their site.

    Consider a cyclists shopping night, when a mass of cyclists all meet up to shop at the same time. I recall that one supermarket – I believe it was Tesco – gained a great deal of publicity from holding a naturist special session, and clearly a cyclists session could highlight the value (and needs) of cyclists coming to the store. Either a visit to Tesco (embarrassing for the lack of parking facilities?), or perhaps a well publicised visit to a trading rival? (embarrassing for the clear amount of trade (everyone adds up their till receipts) that was visited on the cycle friendly store.

  3. AvatarJean-Loup R-S (@jean_loup)

    Ugh, and there I thought they were actually widening the gap between the path and the store. I don’t care so much about going to Tesco’s as I never shop there but I drive past it twice a day and this section is often congested and when both pedestrians and other cyclists come out of the store onto the path, few stop to pay attention to the incoming traffic on the path. I had hoped that with a wider gap you’d be able to see more clearly who’s entering the path. Now you say there will be more muddy overspill?

    Ugh, again!

  4. AvatarPaul Burgess

    What about Lidl in the Kirkgate or Tesco at the foot of the walk – no cycle facilities whatsovever? – that is a real scandal considering the size of Tescos Letih walk car park which is never full.

  5. Mark SydenhamMark Sydenham Post author

    Good to see that Tescos have taken heed of the complaints and made some changes. The sign has been moved, the bark chipping has been taken away and a new zebra crossing painted where the old one had faded away. There is a new bike shelter, but still with the same old bike racks, but it is less congested now. It’s a lot better than it was…..


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