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Opportunities to Promote Cycling

Posted by chdot on June 8, 2009

bike the strike
Cycling in London is on the increase. Periodically there are Public Transport strikes which result in more people trying cycling.

The London Cycle Campaign has reacted to the latest strike (due to close the Tube tomorrow evening for two days) by launching a simple web site giving advice to people thinking about an unfamiliar travel mode.

In Edinburgh when bus strikes have been threatened, the Council has reacted by (for instance) planning to allow drivers to park on The Meadows. The current disruption caused by the creation of the tramline is another great opportunity to encourage people to cycle in Edinburgh, but neither the Council nor tie see the merit in actively encouraging more people to leave their cars at home and try a two wheeled alternative.

Posted in Active Travel, bike security theft, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, cycle training, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, Maps, Peak Oil, Spokes maps, Trams, walking | Leave a Comment »

Cycle East Lothian – Sea, Art, Food

Posted by chdot on June 2, 2009

3 Harbours Festival
Just east of Edinburgh is East Lothian. A county of contrasts, (once known as Haddingtonshire), it is mostly rural with rich arable on the flatter land near the coast and sheep grazing on the slopes of the Lammermuirs. The extensive coast has a fishing tradition which remains today and also fabulous sandy beaches.

Easy to access with relatively quiet roads away from the main A1 and an hourly stopping train service to North Berwick with room for 6 bikes. (Mainline trains also stop at Dunbar but booking is required). From Longniddry station there is an off road route gently rising on the old branch line to the county town of Haddington. Outside Drem station are country roads that lead to the large, douce, village of Gullane for dunes, sweeping bay, food and golf.

Prestonpans station is close to the coastal settlements that host the 3 Harbours Arts Festival.Which runs from 5th to 14th of June and promises “Art in Unusual Places” in Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton.

“Bigger and better than last year, the festival will bring an abundance of musical talent from the Lothians and Edinburgh, a creative mixture of dance forms including belly dancing and a plethora of visual art. Focusing on art in unusual places; highlights include a tremendous collection of artists in the Cockenzie Power Station, the Primary Schools Seafood Poster competition Prestonpans window trail, the model boats and Boatie Blest and the quirky open houses trail in the heart of Cockenzie and Port Seton. There is definitely something for everyone this year.  Also being served is the new addition to the festival – the Seafood Festival.”

Well worth cycling for.

Some routes on cycle-route.com | Cycling info from East Lothian Council

Posted in Active Travel, Art, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, commuting, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Food, holidays, Lothian Buses, Maps, Physical Activity and Health, Spokes maps, Sustrans | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Edinburgh Council Signs Cycle Treaty!

Posted by chdot on May 26, 2009


brussels treaty

City of Edinburgh Council is often criticised for the gap between its (sometimes lukewarm) pro-cycling rhetoric and the realities in the streets. Manifesto pledges for a ‘model cycling city’ are, so far, little more than words.

Things may be about to change. Fairly new Head of Transport Marshall Poulton travelled to Brussels (probably not by bike) to sign the new Charter of Brussels. Surprisingly Edinburgh is the UK’s first city to adopt its principles. (Even accident avoiding London Mayor Boris Johnson missed out on this photo opportunity.)

Marshall and CEC Cycling Officer Chris Brace were in Belgium for Velo-city 2009 – the latest version of the assembly of cycle planners and campaigners that was hosted by Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2001.

The key passage that Edinburgh has agreed to says: “To set a target of at least 15% for the share of cycling in the modal split of trips for the year 2020 and of further growth if this target already is achieved.”

The truth is this is hugely ambitious – but not impossible. The current share is closer to 5%. The target doesn’t necessarily mean a tripling of cycling (though that would be nice). Less car use will need to be a significant factor. More passenger journeys on public transport will be beneficial to all road users, but will do little to shift the balance between 5% and 15%.

Politicians (local and national) have to grasp the reality that having accepted that it is a ‘good thing’ to encourage cycling it will require a significant change in attitudes – AND money. More people need to feel that cycling on normal roads is ‘safe’. There is little scope in Edinburgh for many segregated cycle lanes on existing roads. Maintaining the current on-road cycle lanes properly would be a good start.

Cycle Training for all pupils (in school time) should be implemented as part of the new Curriculum for Excellence. Widespread availability of practical training/encouragement for adults (especially parents of school age children) would be a good idea.

Politicians have to stop believing that voters=motorists. Even where that is true they are also pedestrians, cyclists, shoppers, parents of children too young to drive, children of people too old to drive, etc.

The Charter ends:

“Furthermore, the signers of this charter call upon all authorities worldwide, at all levels to strongly promote cycling and to incorporate cycling into all areas of policy (health, spatial planning, city management, economy, mobility and traffic, leisure, sports, tourism).”

Earlier this year Copenhagen brought an exhibition (Dreams on Wheels) about its cycling vision to the Botanics. Perhaps in a few years Edinburgh will be able to justifiably boast about its own achievements.

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, bike security theft, bike shops, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Exhibition, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, HEALTH, holidays, Lothian Buses, Maps, Meadowbank Velodrome, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking | 3 Comments »

No Tram for Roseburn Corridor

Posted by chdot on April 24, 2009

City of Edinburgh Council’s Head of City Development, Dave Anderson, confirmed on Radio Scotland this morning that Line 1b will not be going ahead ‘for the foreseeable future’.

This controversial route was planned to branch from the tram line currently being built through the city. The spur (the previous plan for a loop to join the Newhaven to Airport line was trunkated some time ago) was due to run from Haymarket to Granton.

This plan to improve public transport to north Edinburgh was controversial as it would have meant that a very well used walking and cycling route would be affected. Due to pressure from Spokes the council agreed to keep a path alongside the tram. This would have been very narrow in places (due to the overbridges) or be diverted away from the fairly flat route.

In addition the idea of taking the tram to the Western General Hospital was rejected as it would have increased journey times for people living or working in the new developments at The Waterfront (largely unbuilt and very much ‘on hold’).

Most of the trees and vegetation along the route would have been removed, completely changing the character of what is known as the Roseburn Corridor – a corridor for wildlife (notably badgers) as well as non-motorised humans.

Officially Line 1b is shelved rather than cancelled, but Dave Anderson indicated that any future development of a tram system would be more likely to be Tramline 3 linking the city centre with King’s Buildings and the Royal Infirmary. This could sensibly be extended to Queen Margaret University in East Lothian and into Midlothian (possibly along the former railway line to Loanhead), but such developments are now many years away.

Perhaps today’s news will allow some serious discussions about a sensible and viable ‘sustainable’ transport future for Edinburgh involving walking, cycling and public transport – buses (Edinburgh still has one of the best bus services in the UK), trams and rail. Re-opening the South Sub would cost significantly less than Tramline 3 and could be part of much better rail system in the East of Scotland.

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Yellow Bus Report Encourages Cycling

Posted by chdot on September 12, 2008


The Yellow School Bus Commission has issued its report today. It concludes that a widespread, America style, system of school buses would reduce ‘school run’ traffic congestion and have positive effects on pupils and the environment.

It is also clear about other methods of getting to school: “The Commission strongly believes that walking and cycling should be encouraged and promoted within sensible distances.” It recommends “Further measures to encourage walking and cycling”.

“As stated in Section 4 and reinforced in the recommendations, the Commission is mindful that any proposals should build on the work done to develop walking and cycling. For shorter distances, walking and cycling remain the most sustainable mode of travel for the journey to school.”

The six person commission was chaired by David Blunkett MP and included Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

Full report (64 pages) | Executive summary (5 pages)

Posted in Active Travel, bike security theft, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, Lothian Buses, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 2 Comments »

Commuter Challenge Volunteers Wanted

Posted by chdot on September 10, 2008

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chdot/2803933116
Once again Edinburgh is to have a Commuter Challenge as part of European Mobility Week. For the past few years the destination has been Princes Street. 

For 2008 (Friday 19th September) it will be the newly opened, almost tranquil, St. Andrew Square gardens – complete with cafe.

Participants will set off from each of four departure points around Edinburgh (the Park and Ride site at Ingliston, Newcraighall Station, Ocean Terminal and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) and travel by car, bus, train, motorcycle or bicycle.

Organiser Maggie Wynn of ChangingPace is looking for volunteers travelling either by their normal means of transport, or trying a different one for the day. “The challenge compares some typical commuter journeys into the centre of Edinburgh for speed, cost and impact on climate change.  We hope that the results will help people make their own minds up about how they want to travel to work.”

Departures will be timed so that the participants from each starting point will arrive at St Andrew’s Square around 8.15am.

It’s not a race - all participants will have to follow the highway code and other regulations, so car drivers will have to observe the speed limit and park legally, public transport users will have to buy a ticket, and cyclists will only be allowed to use roads and recognised cycle routes). Awards will be given for the earliest arrivals from each of the four departure points. Coffee and buns for registered participants!

If you want to join in the fun, e-mail Maggie Wynn (or ‘phone 07914 727 018)

Posted in Active Travel, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, Cycling on TV, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Lothian Buses, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, walking, What the papers say | 2 Comments »

It Might Be Leith

Posted by chdot on June 2, 2008


City of Edinburgh Council is through to the next round of the ‘sustainable travel community’ bid process with its proposal for the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership area.

“It is a partnership project with Local Authorities to reduce car dependence; increase physical activity; reduce emissions and congestion; and promote sustainable places. Activities might include personalised travel planning, improvement of green space, demand management measures and reallocation of road space.”

Twenty eight (out of 32) Scottish councils submitted thirty nine bids, but only thirteen are through to the next stage (full list). Collectively their proposals “significantly exceed the funds available”. So it is likely that fewer than half will get the ‘prize’ of (a share of) £15m over three years.

The shortlisted councils include ones that did well in Cycling Scotland’s recent survey and others that scored more modestly. Top of the list was Fife, famed for its Kingdom of Fife Millennium Cycle Way, and now hoping to develop a scheme in Dunfermline. Fife and Edinburgh (and countless cycle tourists and commuters) would both benefit if money was spent on the cycle route between the city and the Forth Road Bridge!

On the other side of Edinburgh is East Lothian which did badly in all of Cycling Scotland’s nine “topic” areas. East Lothian is a great place to cycle – flat coastal landscapes, Luca’s ice cream, the Pencaitland Railway Path, the train back from North Berwick (usually room for eight bikes) and also the hillier delights of the Lammermuirs. The council has chosen to develop a scheme for Dunbar which is on the East Coast Main Line and keeps trying to get a better train service into Edinburgh. It is also becoming a Transition Town, so there should be plenty of local support.

Support, political and community, is a key element in this new Scottish Government initiative. As it says in the criteria: “Written support from local/national partners: including detailed reference to in-kind and financial support and related activities. Specific references should be made where relevant to the involvement of Community Planning Partnerships, Community Health Partnerships, public transport operators and relevant businesses and environmental groups.”

It will be fairly easy to mobilise local support for plans to improve conditions for walking, cycling and Public Transport use – and upgrade local green spaces. Leith has a wide range of local groups including Greener Leith which has already offered active support. The area even has a community radio station – Leith FM to spread the news.

Councils have until July 9th to produce detailed plans. The outcome should be decided by the end of that month.

Posted in Active Travel, Art, bike security theft, bike shops, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Lothian Buses, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Challenging Fuel Prices

Posted by chdot on May 27, 2008

Today and tomorrow, newspapers, radio and TV will be full of headlines and stories about ‘hardships’ caused by the cost of fuel, the effect on ‘poor’ people of the proposed Vehicle Excise Duty increase, etc.

It seems likely that Labour politicians worried about losing their seats and Conservative politicians keen to achieve power will all be maneuvering to propose ‘popular’ ‘solutions’.

The simple fact is that fuel prices are likely to rise significantly in the coming years, due to increasing world demand. Also, whether or not ‘Peak oil’ has been reached, it will become more difficult (and therefore more expensive) to find and extract future oil – especially the grades that produce transport fuels.

A 1998 Government report Car Dependence in Rural Scotland, (published on Christmas Eve – so perhaps hardly noticed), contained the heading Transport policy : reactions and evaluations. It noted: “Given the central place which cars occupy in the collective consciousness, any policy designed to make driving less convenient or more expensive will be strongly resisted, regardless of whether households would be significantly affected or not.”

Not much has changed in ten years. It’s not clear whether politicians are reluctant to ‘offend’ floating voters or just have equal desires to own and use cars without sufficient thought for the implications or consequences.

In spite of the notion that ‘everyone’ is a ‘motorist’, a significant proportion of Scottish households don’t have ‘access to a car’ – over 30% (report based on 2001 census) – and much higher in some parts of urban areas. Under 17s aren’t allowed to drive and many elderly or infirm people don’t, so car ownership and use is far from universal. There is also a noticeable gender gap. Just look at the people waiting for buses. As well as young and old, there are generally far more women than men. Anyone who advocates a ‘fairer society’ – all political parties these days – should perhaps wonder whether it’s fair to listen to the travellers who make the most noise, or the ones with fewer (or different) choices.

The photos at the top were taken in Muenster (there are similar images from elsewhere). They clearly show the benefits for cyclists and pedestrians of the ‘modal shift’ that governments claim to want. More space to move, cleaner air to breathe, quicker, more reliable, bus services etc.

Report by Professor Gilbert N. Hanson states -

* Bicycle: 72 people are transported on 72 bikes, which requires 90 square meters.
* Car: Based on an average occupancy of 1.2 people per car, 60 cars are needed to transport 72 people, which takes 1,000 square meters.
* Bus: 72 people can be transported on 1 bus, which only requires 30 square meters of space and no permanent parking space, since it can be parked elsewhere.

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, CTC, cycle parking, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, Cycling on TV, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, Safe Routes to School, Safety, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 1 Comment »

It Could Be Leith

Posted by chdot on May 14, 2008


Councils throughout Scotland are waiting to hear if their “Smarter Choices, Smarter Places” bids have been successful. This new funding stream from the Scottish Government is for what have also been called ‘Travel Demonstration Communities’. (Background)

Initially it was assumed that Edinburgh would be ‘too big’, but the guidelines made it clear that any ‘recognisable community’ up to 100,000 would be eligible. Various options were considered, mostly in the north and east of the city.

It was clear that “Leith” was both a well established/recognisable area and also a good candidate for this programme. It’s on the edge of path networks heading both east and west and is also having a tramline built through the middle. This is due to be completed in 2011, which will coincide with the third year of this (initially) three year funded initiative.

The precise boundaries of “Leith” are open to interpretation. It once had fixed boundaries as Leith was a town until 1920. One line was drawn across the middle of Leith Walk. As a consequence, the Boundary Bar (now called The City Limits) had different closing times in each half!

Various possible boundaries were considered by the Council for its bid. The catchment area of Leith Academy was a possibility. Adding Trinity Academy’s catchment was another option. This would have demonstrated the importance of schools (particularly the feeder primaries) in changing travel habits. City of Edinburgh Council has a long standing Safer Routes to Schools programme which mixes physical measures – traffic calming, speed restrictions etc. – with ‘softer’ initiatives including producing School Travel Plans.

The area settled on for the bid is that of the (relatively) new Leith Neighbourhood Partnership (one of twelve across the city) which covers the Leith and Leith Walk wards (population about 44,000). This is sensible as it will involve an existing dedicated team with responsibility for, or oversight of, many areas that are crucial to this demonstration project. As well as improvements to infrastructure – improved walking and cycling routes and the extension of the bustracker scheme, significant effort is planned to go into marketing the many alternatives to private car use.

This will include Travel Plans aimed at large employers and ‘destinations’ and also smaller ones for families. The purpose of the project isn’t just to substitute one means of transport for another on existing journeys. The idea is to also improve and/or highlight local amenities such as parks and path networks. These are places where people can go for fun and exercise as well as ‘transport’. Places where children can practice riding their bikes and adults can gain the confidence to consider using their own bikes for journeys – perhaps to work.

One positive spin-off from the bid process (even if it is not successful) is that there is now a recognition within the Council that not only do existing paths have to be promoted more – not least with appropriate signage – but money has to be spent on maintenance. Too often in the past ‘capital’ money has been spent without enough thought for the ‘revenue’ implications. One proposal is for a “ranger team” for the path network. This would have paid staff and not just rely on the excellent Sustrans Volunteer Rangers!

To add weight to their bids councils are expected to find partners and supporters. Greener Leith, (which has campaigned for improvements to the off-road path links in Leith), is one organisation that is supportive – and has even offered to help finding “matching money”. Alastair Tibbitt, Chair of Greener Leith, has told the Council that it “wholeheartedly supports the City of Edinburgh Council’s bid to the ‘Smarter Choices, Smarter Places’ project. There is no doubt that Leith needs investment in the local transport infrastructure if it is become more sustainable. As the regeneration of the docks proceeds, together with a number of other key sites, such as Shrubhill, the existing transport network is being placed under increasing stress. We hope that the Scottish Government will shortlist this project and we wish CEC every success in its bid. We would hope to be able to work with the council to seek further match funding for some capital improvements, should you be successful.”

Other partners include Spokes, Transport Edinburgh Limited/Lothian Buses, NHS Lothian, the Police and Sustrans. A decision is expected shortly.

Leith through to stage 2

Posted in Art, bike security theft, bike shops, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Exhibition, HEALTH, Lothian Buses, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

‘Accident’ Waiting to Happen

Posted by chdot on May 3, 2008


In the week of a tragic death at a road junction, (police are still looking for witnesses), it’s disturbing to come across a ‘new’ junction with serious problems.

The ongoing evolution of closures and diversions (for the tram) is causing endless inconvenience for road users and pedestrians. It would appear that AIP (Accident, Injury, Prevention) considerations are not as prominent as they should be.

The photo shows a car going through the red lights at the Lothian Road/Castle Terrace junction. It was one of several in a fairly short period. Clearly the responsibility lies with the driver, but the amount of visual overload isn’t helping.

The brightly coloured shrouds on the out of use lights must be one contributory factor. The line of cones and the ‘no right turn’ signs perhaps imply that there is no longer any traffic coming from Castle Terrace. In addition it seems that the green phase for traffic turning right out of Castle Terrace isn’t long enough. The lights change while traffic is still turning into Lothian Road.

It is no longer clear who is responsible for any of this. It should be City of Edinburgh Council’s City Development Department, but tie (wholly owned by the Council) has responsibility for delivering the tram and is largely obviously to criticism – whether it comes from Leith Walk traders or cycle campaigners Spokes. The recent shambles over diversions for cyclists around the Shandwick Place closure doesn’t inspire confidence that things will improve.

Tram supporters constantly say that ‘the pain will be worth the gain’. It’s to be hoped that no one will suffer actual physical pain between now and February 25th 2011.

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, Safety, Spokes, Trams, walking, What the papers say | 2 Comments »

 
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