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Government Relies on Spokes Statistics

Posted by chdot on August 5, 2009

SPICe

UPDATE: A civil servant has suggested that the headline should say “Holyrood Relies on Spokes Statistics”. “Cycling in Scotland” is produced by the Scottish Parliament not the Scottish Government. It’s assumed that the report’s author looked for statistics from the SG first. It’s also assumed that the SG relies on the best available statistics. If there are better statistics than those compiled by Spokes, Spokes would be keen to have them.

SPICe, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, has published a concise briefing document titled “Cycling in Scotland”. Many of the statistics quoted have come from Spokes (The Lothian  Cycle Campaign).

Not only does it indicate that Spokes’ surveys of spending on cycling in Scotland are regarded as comprehensive/accurate, it also suggests that no-one in Government is keeping their own tally!

The figures have been compiled for many years by Dave du Feu who has doggedly dealt with Local Authorities – collecting survey answers and compiling the results (and interpreting where necessary). Most Scottish LAs supply information. Getting details from the Government is more difficult.

As “Cycling in Scotland” indicates

Transport Scotland told SPOKES that it was impossible to disentangle the cycle element of trunk road expenditure, but later told Mike Pringle MSP that it amounted to £2m for financial year 2007-2008, so it is assumed that this amount is spent each year on cycle related projects”

This is a footnote from the detailed table produced by Spokes, but its inclusion in this briefing document is significant. As Spokes reports on its own web site “The Spice Research Briefings are intended as impartial documents to inform MSPs and others involved in the work of the Scottish Parliament. They are independent research publications for the entire Parliament, not decided by or controlled by the party which is in government.”

Overall “Cycling in Scotland” is useful background information for MSPs, campaigners and anyone interested in encouraging more people to cycle. Usefully it distinguishes between the two key areas of cycling as they relate to Government policies -

Cycling takes two main forms:

• a form of transport

• a sport, including track and road cycling, mountain biking, BMX, cycle speedway and cyclo-cross

and explains:

This short briefing focuses on cycling as a form of transport. It outlines the legislative and policy framework governing cycling, identifies key organisations and provides cycling related statistics. It goes on to look at sources of funding for cycling projects and the national cycle network.”

This is a useful division and highlights the convention that cycling is either ‘transport’ or ‘sport’. However it is likely that in future a third division will be necessary/desirable.

It is increasingly being recognised that exercise is necessary for good health – physical and mental. There’s a lot of discussion about diet and obesity. Chris Hoy is “Scotland’s first ambassador for mental health“. But money for ‘cycling’ largely comes from ‘transport’ or ‘sport’.

It is quite reasonable to encourage people to cycle to school, shops, work etc. and (as much as possible) record statistics for this, but it probably largely misses the people who cycle for a bit of exercise or to take their kids along a cycle path to the swing park – or just for the fun of cycling!

More importantly the emphasis on ‘transport’ and ‘sport’ perhaps makes it harder to get to people (statistically the majority) who hardly ever cycle – and get the funding to try to encourage them to cycle.

Cycling in Scotland highlights the CAPS (Cycle Action Plan Scotland) process. This is a comprehensive look at ways to increase cycling in Scotland. (YOU can contribute until the 20th of August.) This paragraph outlines some of the intentions

3. For people to have the confidence and the right information to make cycling a realistic choice for some journeys: Provide access to adult and child cycle training and cycle maintenance courses with well trained instructors. Promote the bike-to-work scheme and encourage employers and education providers to become cycle friendly. Produce cycle network maps and an online cycle journey planner.

“Cycling in Scotland” also manages to highlight Spokes’ concerns about funding and future commitment to funding.

Unusually, the CAPS consultation draft was launched without a Scottish Government press release or ministerial statement. Perhaps as a consequence of this, there has been almost no media interest or public comment by stakeholders. However, from what comment there has been it seems that the policy intentions of the consultation draft of CAPS have been welcomed, although concerns have been raised about whether they are backed by sufficient funding. For example Dave du Feu, lead organiser for SPOKES, has stated that “There’s good stuff in the action plan but if they’re not going to spend anything until 2011 – and even then there’s no guarantee that they will – I can’t see it making any difference” (The Herald 2009)

Perhaps the time has come to look beyond ‘transport’ or ‘sport’ for funding. Aren’t ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’ the main responsibilities of the NHS?

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Art, Bicycle Film Festival, bike security theft, bike shops, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, BikeStation, bikeweek, ChangingPace, Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Craigmillar Cycles, critical mass, CTC, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, Cycling on TV, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, ERC, European Moblity Week, Food, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, HEALTH, holidays, Maps, Meadowbank Velodrome, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

“Smarter Ways Forward”

Posted by chdot on June 23, 2009

Smarter Ways Forward
Photo Colin Howden

Smarter Ways Forward is the latest report from transport pressure group Transform Scotland Trust. It’s 50 pages of detailed research into the results of various measures, north and south of the border, encouraging people to walk, cycle and take public transport.

It highlights the ongoing problems and some of the answers:-

“Distances as short as one kilometre are regularly travelled by car (Scottish Executive 2005). Nearly a quarter of car journeys are less than 2 miles and over a half of all journeys made by car are less than 5 miles (CfIT 2007). Research on the impact of Smarter Choices by Sustrans/Socialdata found significant modal shift is possible: 50% of all local car trips in non-metropolitan towns could be replaced by walking, cycling and/or public transport (CfIT 2007).”

Annual surveys of school children in Scotland demonstrate a small shift towards more walkng and cycling.

Sustrans’ National Hands-Up Survey Scotland 2008 (May 2009) reported that 51.8% of Scottish children travel to school by active travel modes – a greater number that those who get to school by car, bus or taxi (47.7%). The number of children cycling (2.8%) or walking (48.3%) to school was greater than Sustrans had expected. It was found that 27.6% of children were driven to school for all or part of their journey (6.1% of this amount took the car for part of the journey and walked the rest) while 18.1%” took the bus.”

Transform’s researchers asked local authorities what would help them implement measures and what, if any, problems they had encountered in attempting to implement measures. The report finds that “general problems such as ingrained car culture among staff, and lack of senior management buy-in to Smarter Choices make it difficult for them to implement various measures”.

In Edinburgh there is some evidence that such attitudes are being. slowly, overcome. The Council’s recent adoption of a policy of ‘15% by 2020′ for cycle journeys is a massive step forward, though a few days later the firm target was officially described as “aspirational”

The conclusions of Smarter Ways Forward (page 32) are under five main headings: –

A national Smarter Choices programme – “..The programme would be delivered at local and regional levels – making commonplace the implementation of schemes such as workplace travel plans, school travel plans, car clubs, and car sharing..”

Car clubs – “..a review of possible support strategies that would encourage the development of car clubs to serve communities throughout Scotland.

(Tele-)Conferencing -“Local authorities (and/or RTPs) should increase access for small businesses and voluntary organisations to affordable conferencing facilities through creation of local ICT hubs.”

School travel plans – “..We recommend that School Travel Coordinator posts be a mandatory requirement of Local Authorities; that Local Authorities should provide adequate budgets for school travel planning; and that the Scottish Government (as part of recommendation 1.1 above), consider reinstating ringfenced funding for the School Travel Coordinator programme.”

Public transport information – “The Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers in Scotland (ATCO Scotland) should take forward work on improving common standards for public transport information across Scotland..”

Is it possible that the Government can ignore another well researched and well argued report on ‘sustainable’ transport that addresses some of the issues that need to be dealt with if the ambitious targets of the Climate Change Bill (today in Holyrood) are to be met?

Posted in Active Travel, bike security theft, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Lothian Buses, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

“investment in walking and cycling is declining”

Posted by chdot on June 17, 2009

delivering climate change

That’s the sad, but very understandable, conclusion of Transform Scotland after reading the Scottish Government’s new Climate Change Delivery Plan.

Press release in full -

Responding to today’s launch of its Climate Change Delivery Plan, Transform Scotland have criticised the Scottish Government’s plans as being unambitious on transport.

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“Transport is the basket case of climate change policy. It is the second largest sector for emissions after heat, and it is the sector where things are still going in the wrong direction.

“The delivery plan does a good job of setting out the range of measures that could reduce emissions from the transport sector – including demand management, investment in active travel and Smarter Choices, and cutting speed limits. The problem is that Government action in these areas is small and stunted: investment in walking and cycling is declining, the budget for Smarter Choices is tiny, while there is little action to ensure the enforcement of current speed limits let alone reducing speed limits.

“All of this contrasts with the Government’s multi-billion road-building programme – which goes strangely unmentioned in this document. At £2,000 million, the proposed Second Forth Road Bridge on its own represents 100 years of Government investment in active travel at current levels.

“There remains a huge mismatch between Government stated aspirations towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its own spending priorities. If the Government truly wants to deliver on its climate change targets then it needs to give top priority to low-cost and swiftly deliverable investments in active travel and Smarter Choices measures, rather than relying on the vain hope that technological change – mainly outwith its control – will come to save the day.”

Posted in Active Travel, bike security theft, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, ChangingPace, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, HEALTH, Lothian Buses, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 4 Comments »

Velib Comes to Capital

Posted by chdot on June 12, 2009


Photo sidewaysbike

Yes that looks like Edinburgh’s Rose Street, but of course it’s Dublin. (More photos on Velovision Forum by Sideways Bike inventor Michael Killian.) London is due to be next and Edinburgh – one day, maybe. City of Edinburgh Council is actively looking into the idea – having seen the success in Paris.

There is a real possibility that Edinburgh’s version of a mass bike hire scheme could arrive before the first trams run.

Imagine an immaculately resurfaced Princes Street (tram line laying there due to be finished by the end of this year) with a Velib station by every block (perhaps where the bus stops used to be) and the buses still running via George Street.

This is certainly the vision of Spokes which is calling for Princes Street to be just for pedestrians, cyclists and trams. Remarkable this idea seems to have struck a chord with Councils officials and politicians and many Edinburgh residents.

Maybe it’s a ‘must do’ if Edinburgh is to have any hope of the proposed 15% of journeys, by bike, by 2020.

Posted in Active Travel, Art, bike security theft, Bikes on trains, citycycling, Climate Change, cycle parking, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, European Moblity Week, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Spokes, technology, Trams, TryCycling | 1 Comment »

Bike Week Film Festival Starts Today

Posted by chdot on June 11, 2009


Edinburgh’s Filmhouse plays host to the Bike Week Film Festival for the 4th time this year. 

Tonight there’s the chance to see Dave Sowerby’s sensational YouTube video hit, Inspired Bicycles, showing off the exploits of talented Edinburgh based rider Danny MacAskill on the big screen.

Danny is on a non-stop 24 day tour demonstrating his skills in person, but Dave is expected to attend. 

The main event is Mark Huskisson’s film Home which “combines a celebration of mountain biking with a passion for shooting in stunning landscapes”.

Afterwards Chris Ball of Dirtschool (who appears in Home) will lead a discussion on cycling – in Scotland (audience participation welcome).

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, bikeweek, ChangingPace, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »

Spokes Appeals to Swinney

Posted by chdot on June 8, 2009

spokes letter
Veteran (31 years and still going strong) local cycle campaign group Spokes has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, continuing its campaign for increased investment to encourage more people to cycle. (PDF)

It’s not many years since the case would have to be made for the idea of encouraging people to cycle. Now all levels of Government (Westminster, Holyrood and City Chambers) want more people to cycle (more often) but are still failing to understand that the massive increases they say they want will require cash.

As the letter’s author, Dave du Feu, points out – “Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson announced a new government target of 10% of all trips to be by bicycle in the year 2020″ and continues “Mr Stevenson and other Ministers refer to comparator European countries such as Denmark which have achieved well over such levels, suggesting that such a target is achievable. However, the difference is that such countries have invested in cycling substantially and consistently over many years, whereas investment in Scotland has hovered around or below 1%, around £3-£4 per head of population, and is now on a significant downward trend. In comparator towns and countries we often find £10-£20 per head, or 5%-10% of transport budgets (even more in some towns).”

(City of Edinburgh Council has recently announced its own target of 15% by 2020 without any indication of sufficient extra investment).

Dave is not just another ‘campaigner’ asking for money for a pet project/vested interest. He has, for many years, collected statistics from all local authorities in Scotland and has a very clear idea of the amount of spending by councils on cycling (not always easy to identify completely accurately) and whether or not that investment is increasing (generally not).

“If the target is to be taken seriously, or even if the government is concerned that cycling investment is falling in contradiction to the aspirations of the SNP manifesto, then the decline in investment must be reversed in the current year, and serious investment towards the target must begin rapidly thereafter.”

Dave’s letter lists suggestions for money required – £5m more in the current financial year, in 2010/11 “a new £20m cycle projects fund, additional to current initiatives, and so roughly doubling existing levels of cycle investment.” As he points out “this proposal, whilst doubling existing cycle investment, would still leave us well below European levels, and certainly not yet on track to meet your 2020 cycle use target.”

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Art, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, HEALTH, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

It CAN be done

Posted by chdot on June 5, 2009

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphias
It’s only two weeks since City of Edinburgh Council signed the Treaty of Brussels which ‘committed’ it to making cycling account for 15% of journeys by 2020. It’s a fabulously ambitious target, but not impossible

Since then the Council has been backtracking a bit and is talking about it being “aspirational”.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia reports that “bicycling in Philadelphia has doubled over the past three years” (press release). A long report in the local citypaper refers to some of the things that the city has done: –  Over the years it has increased the number and mileage of bike paths and lanes . New Mayor Michael Nutter, “who ran as a bike-friendly candidate, has directed the Planning Commission to develop the city’s first comprehensive bike plan. He also made good on a campaign promise to hire the city’s first-ever bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, a position many other large cities have had for years.”.

Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia says “Bike lanes are the single biggest reason for the doubling of biking in this city. What European cities taught us is that you need to build a network, not just a trail, that is a functional system of transportation.”

citypaper writer Isaiah Thompson adds “Right now, Philadelphia has about 200 miles of bike lanes. That’s not bad, but the so-called “bicycle network” is incomplete and fragmented. There are gaps, lanes to nowhere, mysterious disappearing ghost lanes, the infamous lineless lanes along Columbus Boulevard. Then there are miles of lanes lost through atrophy. Ten years since bike lanes started emerging, many have crumbled and faded to the point of disappearing.”

Sounds just like Edinburgh! (See state of cycle lanes in Marchmont Road.) In spite of which both Philadelphia and Edinburgh have seen significant increases in the number of people cycling (and journeys/distance cycled).

The Treaty of Brussels was signed with the approval of  Transport Convener Phil Wheeler. He has just been replaced by Councillor Gordon Mackenzie who is quoted in the Evening News saying “Edinburgh has to address both congestion and healthy lifestyles. This is why we are so keen to sign up to the ambitious targets of the charter. Getting more people on to their bikes is not just good for the environment – it’s good for their health and well-being, too.”

It remains to be seen whether he and his successors are able to proclaim the success of tripling cycle use over the next eleven and a half years. It will need some change of official attitudes and a re-allocation of resources – not just ‘aspirations’.

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Copenhagen Comes to Edinburgh

Posted by chdot on May 28, 2009

Sustrans womens
Maybe.

Anyone familiar with the web site Copenhagenize.com (a celebration of cycling in a city that has taken bikes seriously for years) will probably have come across Copenhagen Cycle Chic “Streetstyle and Bike Advocacy in High Heels”.

Originally a photo record of well dressed, normal, people (mostly female) going around the Danish capital in all temperatures. It now is increasingly recording people in other cities.

So it seems certain that some photos from Sunday’s Sustrans event will feature there soon! (Pictured here are two of Sustrans‘ Edinburgh staff.)

“Dozens of fashion-conscious cyclists are expected to join the colourful ride along the city’s cycle routes dressed in their favourite outfits.”

“Men are also invited to join the ride, which starts at Haymarket Yards, next to Haymarket Rail Station, on May 31st at 12pm. It will last about one and a half hours along National Cycle Network routes to the north of the city centre. There will be prizes for the most glamorous riders and also a ‘Bling Your Bike’ competition to find the most dressed up bike.”

It seems certain that the riders will cross those on the regular monthly TryCycling In Edinburgh ride which starts at Ainslie Park Leisure Centre at 10.00 taking a leisurely three hours to ride to Cramond and back.

Posted in Art, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, paths, ride, Sustrans, TryCycling | 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 »

More needs to be done for “Vulnerable Road Users” – Official

Posted by chdot on May 8, 2009



Photo blackpuddinonnabike

Improving Road Safety for Pedestrians and Cyclists in Great Britain is a new report from the National Audit Office. It reports that “the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured fell from 2000 to 2004, but rose again by 11 per cent from 2004 to 2007, despite the amount of cycling staying broadly constant.”

“Nearly one quarter of all trips are one mile or less, and over 40 per cent are within two miles and so potentially suitable distances for either activity. Improving the actual and perceived safety of walking and cycling will help to increase the uptake of these activities. Improving child safety on the roads is also a key strand of the Government’s Public Service Agreement to improve the safety of children and young people, who are more dependent than adults on walking and cycling.”

The report concentrates on the Department of Transport and so some of it is not directly applicable to Scotland, but issues are largely the same with many responsibilities in the hands of local authorities.

  • Executive summary (PDF – 250KB)
  • Full report (PDF – 1268KB)
  • Press notice (HTML)
  •  

    This report comes just after the CTC released “Safety in Numbers” which conclusively proves that increasing the number of people cycling (and the amount they cycle) has a very positive effect on safety.

    ctc diagrams

    Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, critical mass, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, Safety, TryCycling, walking | 1 Comment »

     
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