A Guide to Cycling in Edinburgh: Bike Hire, Cycling Routes + Where to Lock Your Bike
Another hotspot in the UK for cycling, there are few better places to be out on two wheels than Edinburgh.
But just what makes the Scottish capital such a popular destination for cyclists?
Edinburgh Cycling Statistics
Certainly, it’s undeniable that cycling is thriving in Edinburgh. For instance, a Bike Life survey carried out as recently as 2017 found more than half of those surveyed own at least one bicycle, while levels of cycling rose significantly from 2010. With about 200 miles of bike routes, roughly half of which is traffic-free, it’s not hard to see why.
And by the general standards of Britain’s bigger cities, it’s also particularly well-equipped with cycling infrastructure. Just about all of Edinburgh’s roads are accommodating to cyclists, with plenty of off-road bike paths, on-road cycle lanes and forward stop lines at traffic lights in place.
It is extremely busy, though; its official population is at about the 500,000 mark, and having attracted 1.75 million visitors from abroad in 2016, is the UK’s second-most popular tourist destination after London.
So, especially if you’re cycling during the city’s Fringe Festival in the summer, the most largest arts festival in the world, be prepared – you’ll bump into an awful lot of people.
Cycle Paths in Edinburgh
This Ordnance Survey map shows you the best cycling routes in Edinburgh lasting no more than two hours or extending longer than 40 kilometres:
For a more scenic cycle, try the ride of about 25km from South Queensferry Bridges into Edinburgh; it takes in stunning views of each of Scotland’s three Forth bridges, especially beautiful at sunrise or sunset. You will also see the outskirts of the city, cycling through the coastal Dalmeny estate, later passing the largest Napoleonic collection outside France in Dalmeny House before turning inland at Cramond and arriving back into Edinburgh.
And be sure to visit Edinburgh’s ‘other castle’, Craigmillar Castle, perhaps best-known from being used as a safe haven by Mary Queen of Scots. About 10km outside of the city, it’s easily accessible while on your bike.
If you’re a more confident cyclist, don’t forget the loop around the west of the city, either, which should take you a good hour-and-a-half.
Edinburgh Bike Hire
It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling without your own two wheels; since September 2018, Just Eat Cycles in Edinburgh has been the city’s official cycle hire scheme.
It’s extremely easy to use – download their app on your phone, use it to find a bike near your location, unlock the bike using the app, and get riding. You can also park the bike in 66 different stations dotted all over Edinburgh, or at a virtual station by indicating where the bicycle is marked as you finish your ride.
There are three passes available to you: £1.50 for a single trip of as long as one hour (each half-an-hour after that costs £1), £3 for a day pass, or £90 for an annual membership, offering you as many ‘one-hour hires’ as you like all year round.More Discerning Cyclist City Guides