Archive for December, 2006

Exploring Just Got Easier

Posted by chdot on December 28, 2006

google swanstons.jpg

Images The GeoInformation Group, TeleAtlas. Route TryCycling in Edinburgh

People often ask “where can I cycle in Edinburgh?” The first response is to say “buy a SPOKES cycle map“. A bargain at £4.95, with off-road routes and quiet roads clearly marked.

But it can’t show what an area or route is like on the ground. One answer is Google Earth an impressive piece of software bringing maps and satellite images to your computer screen. Unfortunately while Aberdeen, Glasgow and many other places could be clearly seen, Scotland’s Capital was a bit of a vague blur.

NOT ANY MORE. About a week ago Google quietly released “small high-res updates in the UK (Swansea, Edinburgh, Doncaster, Gwent) and expanded London coverage”. The image is from a sunny (Sun?)day in 2005 (looks like late July with Edinburgh getting ready for the Festival).

It’s now much easier to see where you might like to go (or have just been). The map is a bit basic with few cycle paths marked – so you’ll still need the SPOKES map!

The clarity of the images will also make it easier for you to plot your favourite route and share it with others. This could be a tour around the North Edinburgh Path Network or a suggested way for someone who wants to cycle to work avoiding the main roads.

One web site that will make this easy is Map My Run. Originally created for runners it’s also used by cyclists. If you have a GPS device the process is simple, but without one a series of mouse clicks will quickly create your own on-line route map. (Works best with Firefox.)

The results can be e-mailed as a web address or as a Google Earth (kmz) file. Existing routes can be searched for on Map My Run. Already available are the H2EP route (Haymarket to Edinburgh Park avoiding main roads) (kmz file) and July’s TryCycling ride to Swanston (kmz file).

If you create your own favourite route e-mail the details and we will compile a list.

The new clarity will help schools to plan safe routes to school as part of their ‘Green Travel Plans’. Businesses will also be able to encourage employees to cycle to work.

(Google Earth needs a recent computer and Broadband to work effectively.)

Posted in BikeStation, City of Edinburgh Council, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling on the Radio, HEALTH, holidays, paths, tandem, TryCycling | 3 Comments »

Bike Lights for Christmas

Posted by chdot on December 23, 2006


It takes 120 volunteers to power 1,500 LEDs for 5 days. The same effort would only light 120 bulbs.

Christmas promotion for BC Hydro in Vancouver.

Spotted – on

Posted in Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh | Leave a Comment »

Government Ignores Cycling

Posted by chdot on December 22, 2006

That’s not (just) the view of hardened cycle campaigners, but bike trade journalist Carlton Reid. He edits BikeBiz (FOR EVERYONE IN THE BICYCLE BUSINESS) and this is his latest front page story (reproduced in full with permission) –

“Report after report plugs cycling, but there’s still no joined-up effort to boost biking in Britain…”

"IN MANY ways we’ve never had it so good. Cycling is getting more and more official mentions in weighty, Government-sponsored reports. The Stern Report on climate change, the Eddington Report on transport and a multitude of reports on obesity have all recently plugged cycling.

But there’s little to show for this on the ground. Motorists take it for granted that tax pounds will be spent on the upkeep of the roads they ruin and pay for the creation of lots of new ones. But cyclists have to make do with a patchy network of often badly thought out urban bike routes that are often neither use nor ornament.Amazingly, despite this, cycle use is on the up and up, especially in cities such as London, where cycling is taken seriously and funded accordingly.

The Government cannot say it wasn’t told that cycling is a (partial) solution to many of today’s ills. From fighting flab to reducing greenhouse gases, more people cycling more often is a key recommendation from a host of official reports. In his recent report for Government, Sir Nicholas Stern, head of the Government economic service and former World Bank chief economist, said: “There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we act now and act internationally.

Governments, businesses and individuals all need to work together to respond to the challenge. Strong, deliberate policy choices by governments are essential to motivate change.” So, is the Government taking on board the Stern Report’s warning? Not really: it has earmarked £11.4bn for the expansion of the road network, yet just £545m for tackling climate change.

Cycling England is funded with just £5m a year. Yet simply telling people about transport choices can have a dramatic impact. Sustrans estimates it would cost £500m to roll-out a national TravelSmart scheme, which would lead to a ten per cent reduction in car trips. James Ryle, director of TravelSmart for Sustrans, said:“To reduce car travel nationally by at least ten per cent for the cost of building 17 miles of motorway is a good return on investment.”

The Government isn’t listening. Partly this is because Ministers don’t like to be seen as ‘anti-car’. Transport ministers are particularly sensitive about being labeled as supporters of walking or cycling: they have a fear of being positioned next to library stills of Monty Python’s John Cleese in the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. And the Conservatives are certainly no better in this respect. In a Commons debate about the Eddington Report, Chris Grayling MP, the Shadow Transport Secretary, giggled at the report’s mention of cycling. “The Eddington says: ‘Walking and cycling options have the potential for very high welfare returns relative to their cost…’ Whoever wrote that deserves some form of prize and clearly has a bright future as a comedy writer.”

Such ridicule is commonplace and it’s reflected in the British mass media. In mid-December the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued the first ever national guidelines about obesity. The NICE press release led on activity recommendations such as more walking and cycling, but the mass media sprinted past the sensible stuff and plumped instead for kiddie stomach-stapling.

Cycling is mentioned many times throughout the NICE release. It isn’t until half way down page two of the release that bariatric surgery got a brief mention. With the mass media preferring shock headlines about a handful of super-fat kids going under the knife, the more proactive message about active lifestyles was almost wholly lost. It’s against this sort of backdrop that it becomes easier for the Government to sideline walking and cycling. And that’s bad for the bicycle business, the planet and people’s health…


Of course he is talking about England and Westminster, but……

Posted in citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, HEALTH, paths, ride, TryCycling, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Fifth Forth?

Posted by chdot on December 21, 2006

This photo shows the famous Forth Bridge. It’s only been in use since 1890 and there have been various worries over the years about rust and maintenance. Since the passing of RailTrack it seems that its future is safe.

Just upriver is the Road Bridge. The Queen opened it less than half a century ago. It has walk/cycle paths in both directions which are well used especially in June.

Unfortunately corrosion and increasingly heavy traffic loads mean that it may not be ‘fit for purpose’ for much longer. So there is increasing clamour for a replacement. At present another bridge is being built further inland at Kincardine close to the existing (1936) bridge. A new bridge at Queensferry would make it five, though some people favour a tunnel.

Today ‘sustainable transport’ sceptics have taken their stance. Paul Tetlaw of TRANSform Scotland said “If the existing bridge can’t be maintained then it is vital that any new crossing is a replacement of the existing bridge, and not additional to it. We need clarity on plans for the existing Forth Road Bridge. It is essential that there is complete transparency in the decision making process, and that all reports considered by the Scottish Cabinet are published in full.”

JUST IMAGINE – the roadways of the existing Forth Road Bridge just used for walking and cycling – THAT would a great ‘new’ facility!

Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, added, “Ministers must not approve any additional crossing that results in increased road capacity across the Forth. Doing so would increase traffic volumes and undermine Scotland’s climate change programme. If a replacement crossing is genuinely needed, a full Strategic Environmental Assessment must be undertaken to ensure that all reasonable alternatives are considered.”

Massive sums of money are already committed to large scale transport projects in and around Edinburgh – trams, new rail route to and under the airport. Airport expansion is planned and now the possibility/probability of another river crossing.

At a time of increasing evidence of Climate Change and general concerns about energy security, it can’t just be cyclists who would rather have potholes filled and a few more Safe Routes to School in place.

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, paths, TryCycling, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

More Free Bikes

Posted by chdot on December 19, 2006

Another train operator is following the longstanding (since 1998) ScotRail policy of carrying bikes on trains for free.

At present ‘one’ is charging £3 for a single journey to take a bike on inter-city trains into London and £1 on local services across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

From January 2nd the charges will be removed. “Reservations are still required on services to London and also encouraged for local journeys.” These are free – as they are for GNER journeys and also required for a few ScotRail routes to the north.

‘one’ says “The combination of bikes and trains is a ‘green’ option for many journeys. So we’re pleased to encourage sustainable transport trips wherever we can. This development, combined with our work to increase cycle parking at many of our stations in recent years, is part of a dedicated effort to make integrated public transport a real alternative for as many journeys as possible in East Anglia.”

Bikes on Trains ‘rules’ from AtoB Magazine.

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, citycycling, commuting, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, ride, sswc07 | Leave a Comment »

Flying Scotsman on Film 2006

Posted by chdot on December 18, 2006

Tonight’s Film 2006 had a report by Jonathan Ross on the ‘troubled’ biopic about Graeme Obree. Obree talked about his role as body double for the film’s star Jonny Lee Miller saying that he mostly sat around as Jonny wanted to do the cycling!

Ross mentioned the financial problems saying that union BECTU reckoned that the cast and crew would be unlikely ever to be paid in full. This is in spite of the recent distribution deal with MGM which means that the film is shown in the US from the end of the month.

It launched this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival and had a showing at Filmhouse again in November. A general UK release is planned for July to coincide with the Tour de France’s start in London.

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, cycle racing, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »

Trams – SPOKES Speaks

Posted by chdot on December 18, 2006

Image from

Following last week’s news that eleven charities have written to City Councillors urging them to back the tram project, local cycle campaign SPOKES has done the same.

SPOKES has always supported improvements in Public Transport. In recent years it has taken an active part in the tram consultation process. At present it is not certain if a tramline will be built on the Roseburn Cycle Path, but if it is, SPOKES has helped to make sure that there is a walk/cycle path alongside.

Strangely, in spite of considerable pressure, the Council (and its ‘arms length’ company TIE) have been unable to say how (or even if) bicycles will be encouraged on Princes Street. SPOKES also has other concerns as detailed in its letter –

Dear Councillor

We understand that the Council will be voting on 21 December on whether to proceed with the Edinburgh Tram Project, and we are writing to give you the view of Spokes.

The arguments in favour of a tram system are well known, and we are convinced this is the right direction for the city, as part of a modern European integrated transport system. We urge you to vote for the project.

Having said that, we certainly do have big concerns, and these concerns are very important to our members. In a survey of our 1000+ members we found 95% supported the tram if cycling and walking issues were fully integrated, but this fell to just 50% support, with many strongly-worded dissenters, if this did not happen.

The concerns fall into the areas below…

a. Provision for cyclists on the offroad sections, e.g. Roseburn path. We have had considerable discussion on this with TIE, and are pleased with the compromise that has been reached, given the many constraints. We congratulate TIE on their efforts in this matter.

b. Provision for cyclists in relation to all the on-road sections – including notably Princes Street and Leith Walk. Whilst TIE have throughout promised full consideration and discussion on this, we are increasingly concerned that it has not yet happened, even in relation to such a vital location as Princes Street. There must be continuing high quality routes for cyclists, and full attention to potential tramline/bike wheel dangers.

c. Cycle carriage on trams. This is a stated aspiration of the Council, but TIE has been unable to commit themselves as yet, even though we have provided evidence of a substantial trend to cycle carriage in European and North American tram systems. At the recent Edinburgh University transport seminar, for example (attended by several councillors) Prof Nigel Wilson of MIT, a tram expert, told us cycle carriage is now absolutely standard practice on all new US systems, and it is having to be retrofitted into many older systems. It would be tragic if Edinburgh did not follow this current practice, and it would lead to continuing pressure for retrofitting.

d. All tram stops should be assessed to ensure that they are linked by convenient walking/cycling routes, wherever appropriate, to nearby destinations and residential areas. A great deal of welcome attention is being given to bus/tram integration. Is the same happening for walk/cycle access to stops?

e. The tram should attract considerable numbers of people who would otherwise drive. The Council should ensure that the road space freed up is used for sustainable transport purposes and public domain improvements, and is not allowed to fill up with other motor traffic.

In conclusion, whilst it is vital that the above matters all receive full consideration, we repeat that Spokes strongly supports an integrated tram project, and we urge you to vote in support on the 21st.

Yours sincerely,

Dave du Feu and Ian Maxwell SPOKES

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, paths, TryCycling, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

What Every School Needs!

Posted by chdot on December 15, 2006


What a great idea! A bike rack with a built-in pump!

This was designed (and has been patented – and won the Dutch Design Awards 2006 prize for public space product) as an art project in Ypenburg (a newly build neighbourhood in the Netherlands). Along with the car shaped bike rack it shows that bicycle related ‘street furniture’ can be fun and functional.

Work in schools by TryCycling (and others) shows that one reason children don’t cycle (enough) is because “I’ve got a puncture”. This usually turns out to be a flat tyre and the bike’s owner has no access to a working pump…

City of Edinburgh Council’s City Development Department is about to put cycle sheds in another three secondary schools. A Heklucht pumpstand would be a useful addition.

Understandably not that cheap – polished version: €1900,00 (£1,273.50), powder coated version: €1715,00 (£1,149.47). However as the Scottish Executive “will invest through Local Authorities, Sustrans and Cycling Scotland, almost £18.9 million on cycling and walking infrastructure, resources and marketing” this year (Encouraging alternatives to ‘school run’), perhaps a few can be purchased as a practical way of encouraging cycling to schools.

If you fancy one (or more) contact Krijn & Jeroen.

Posted in bike security theft, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, critical mass, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, TryCycling | 2 Comments »

Season’s Greetings from Sustrans

Posted by chdot on December 14, 2006


Click here to see full ‘card’ and send to a friend.

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh | Leave a Comment »

Cycling or Stomach-Stapling?

Posted by chdot on December 13, 2006

Read the popular press headlines and it seems that the second option is more ‘important’. NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has today issued the first ever national guideline addressing obesity in adults and children.

As Carlton Reid points out in Bike Biz, cycling is mentioned in the NICE Press Release (see Bike Biz article) several times, but overlooked in the search for sensationalism. As Carlton told cyclingedinburgh, “I fell off my chair when I read the headlines and then the original press release. It’s mass media myopia.”

Once again ‘we’ are badly served by much of the mass media. Cycling is fun, convenient, sensible, good for health, the environment etc. etc., but it seems stomach-stapling is ‘sexier’.

Posted in citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, HEALTH, TryCycling, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »