Edinburgh the latest city to see record number of people travelling by bike

12 June 2024    

Record high of more than 2,000 daily bike trips on Leith Walk during May, following completion of cycle lanes between Leith and Picardy Place.

9% of journeys on Leith Walk and 6% of journeys on Melville Street made by people on bikes, recorded in traffic counts.

New traffic data collated by Cycling Scotland, Scotland’s national cycling charity, has revealed how the growing network of cycle routes in Edinburgh is encouraging record numbers of people to travel by bike.

Through May 2024, a daily average of 1,812 bikes were recorded travelling on the cycleway on Leith Walk, with a peak of 2,107 journeys on 30th May.[1]

Demonstrating the significant year-on-year growth in cycling on Leith Walk, a total of 219,070 bike journeys were recorded along the route between January 2024 and the end of May 2024 – almost double the number recorded over the same time period in 2022 (117,969). Data shows that cycling volumes are at their highest during commuting times, indicating many people using the routes for everyday journeys.


Data was captured by an automatic counter located on the cycle path at Picardy Place, one of Cycling Scotland’s nationwide network of counters, funded by Transport Scotland to help measure cycling levels across Scotland.

In addition, a survey organised by Cycling Scotland to monitor traffic over a 48-hour period between 15th and 16th May, recorded that bikes accounted for 9.1% of all journeys on Leith Walk: a level of modal share rarely seen in Scotland. On the other side of the city centre, Melville Street also recorded a high cycling modal share of 6.4%. The number of cycling journeys in Edinburgh is up 12% compared to May 2023, and up 19% compared to May 2022.

The sustained growth in bike journeys seen on Leith Walk comes after the completion of fully separated two-way cycle lanes along the 2km route, as part of the Trams to Newhaven project, connecting communities in Leith and Edinburgh’s city centre. The route was developed by City of Edinburgh Council, with funding from the Scottish Government. The route has also recently connected to the newly opened 4km City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL), which runs from Roseburn to Picardy Place via Haymarket Train Station, and is already seeing increases in cycling.

The results in Edinburgh follow on from an autumn 2023 traffic survey in Glasgow, which similarly revealed record levels of cycling along the newly completed South City Way.

Leith resident Elspeth, who uses the Leith Walk and CCWEL routes to cycle to work in Edinburgh Park several times a week, said:

“I use the Leith Walk cycle lanes regularly – for travelling to work but also for lots of other shorter journeys, like popping into town or visiting friends. The separated cycle lanes have made my bike journeys so much more relaxed, and thanks to CCWEL, it’s now almost completely on separated cycle lanes. It means I can go whatever pace suits me without feeling rushed with traffic on my tail.”

“I love how it gives me independence and allows me to get about town. I find getting around by bike is great for my physical and mental health, and I love the passing waves and nods from other people on bikes in the morning!”

Rowan Simpson, Monitoring and Development Officer at Cycling Scotland, said:

“It’s really encouraging to see more than 2,000 people are cycling on Leith Walk each day – yet more evidence that where Scotland builds networks of connected cycling routes, separated from vehicle traffic, more people travel by bike.

“We know that road safety is the single biggest barrier to more people cycling, and the early success of Leith Walk and City Centre West to East Link underlines the critical role of safe, convenient, separated cycle routes, if more people are to choose cycling for short and medium journeys.”

“The new cycle routes make it possible to cycle to Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket stations more safely, supporting multi-modal journeys by bike and public transport and helping more people to choose sustainable transport.

“With transport the largest source of carbon emissions in Scotland, we need to help more people to cycle, walk and wheel safely. Investing in dedicated, separated cycling lanes, limiting polluting traffic growth and helping everyone to access bikes, training and bike storage are all key actions to reduce our climate impact and improve health.”

Transport and Environment Convener of City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Scott Arthur, said:

“These are really exciting counts that showcase the significant growth in cycling on Leith Walk following completion of the Trams to Newhaven project and the connection with the recently opened City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL). The Leith Connections project will be continuing the segregated cycle infrastructure and public space improvements, from the Foot of the Walk northwards, first to Commercial Street and ultimately to Ocean Terminal in the north, Hawthornvale path in the west and Seafield in the east. This improved connectivity, and better active travel and public transport links support our wider ambitions to achieve net zero by 2030 and active travel across Edinburgh.

“Once the Leith Connections project is complete, this improved route will not only provide a safer environment for people walking, wheeling and cycling but will transform the area to create a more pleasant, welcoming space to spend time.”

Karen McGregor, Scotland Director at Sustrans, added:

“Edinburgh residents want to safely and easily get around without needing to rely on a car. This new data shows the demand that can be unlocked by delivering safe walking, wheeling and cycling links like the City Centre West to East Link.

“People in Edinburgh know that every time they decide to travel under their own steam, they are helping their health, our planet and improving the quality of the air we all breathe - and delivering more of these opportunities has support across the city.

“It’s so important to build on the success of projects like CCWEL and deliver even more high-quality, active connections which give everyone fairer, better choices to reach the places they need to.”

Further data on cycle rates in Scotland can be found on the Cycling Open Data Portal.

[1] Data captured by automatic cycle counter positioned on the cycle lane at Leith Walk / Picardy Place. An average of 1,812 bikes were recorded as passing this counter daily in May 2024, compared with a daily average of 803 in May 2022.

Links to data visualisations (hosted on Flourish)

Explanation of traffic survey methodology:

  • Cycling Scotland conducts traffic surveys at over 100 locations across Scotland’s 32 local authorities. The surveys are organised twice a year in May and September, and count all modes of traffic on roads, footways and pavements, including people cycling, walking or wheeling, over a 48-hour period (on Wednesdays and Thursdays). Video cameras are mounted onto existing street furniture and film. The cameras film at a low quality so no personal identifying information can be detected. The surveys have been running in some locations since 2017.