Archive for February, 2007

Build Your Fantasy Bike

Posted by chdot on February 27, 2007

monster bike flyer
Poster Tim Davies Click for larger PDF.

The Forest Cafe in Bristo Place is offering eight people the chance to build their dream bike. We’re not talking about the ultimate Downhill machine or a super-light carbon fibre road racer. Look at the examples on the left (including this one) and you’ll get the idea!

Tim Davies is currently working in Spain, and has a background in sculpture and community arts projects. He’s been building these bikes “whenever I got the chance”, and will help the lucky participants.

He says – “My approach to building the bikes is always pretty rough and when I started I just cut up all the frames into bits and bolted them back together in the most basic way possible to see what new forms I could give them. Its great fun and really quick just to extend the front forks with a couple of extra pieces of tubing, or put the saddle high up and add an extra set of pedals. Recently I’ve got more into welding frames together because it gives you a lot more freedom to build the shapes you want, though it is a bit tricky to get right.”

If you’re interested, over 18, and available (all day) on April 14th to 18th, then get sketching and send your proposal to Tim before the 25th of March. He’ll let you know by the beginning of April if you are one of the chosen ones! More info from Tim.

The finished products will be displayed in the Forest’s gallery and then will probably appear on the streets, perhaps at a Critical Mass or during Bike Week or (if well enough made to survive until August)) the Evening News Cavalcade.

If you need inspiration have a look at the Tall Bikes that visited Edinburgh last year or some of New York’s finest Black Label Bikes.

Evening News story

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, BikeStation, citycycling, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, recycling, ride, Tall Bike, TryCycling | 1 Comment »

B V-R Returns – Complete with Live Music

Posted by chdot on February 24, 2007

If you missed Belleville Rendez-vous at last year’s Bicycle Film Festival there’s another chance next month – complete with a live soundtrack featuring turntables, accordion and guitars, produced and performed by Animat.

This interesting combination is touring the UK and comes to The Cameo on Saturday 10 March 2007 at 8:45 PM. £10 (£9 Members & concessions).

Cameo says – “already selling very well so advance booking is recommended.”

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, cycle racing, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh | 1 Comment »

Critical Mass Art

Posted by chdot on February 22, 2007

Critical Mass glasgow handbill feb 07
Glasgow’s Critical Mass handbill Feb 07.

It’s nearly that time of the month again (last Friday), when Critical Mass takes to the streets of cities around the world. Usually billed as a ‘celebration of cycling’, there are still those (including many keen cyclists) who regard it as a ‘motorist annoying annoyance’.

People involved in the Glasgow CM have consciously tried to emphasis the fun element encouraging dressing up and circus style activities. They also produce quirky, eye catching posters. This has long been part of the process in America. If you happen to be reading this in Chicago make sure you visit the Mercury Cafe for the annual Critical Mass Art Show 2007 (now in its 10th year). Art is also a key element in the New York CM.

Perhaps Glasgow and/or Edinburgh will do the same one day. Both Scottish cities have their own Critical Masses (Edinburgh Foot of the Mound, Glasgow George Square), and there are rumours of a new one starting in Perth next month. March could see a significant rise in numbers as rides will take place in daylight for the first time this year.

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle racing, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, ride, TryCycling | 6 Comments »

No Cycling on Porty Prom

Posted by chdot on February 18, 2007

cycling on prom
NOT Portobello

Once again the vexed question of whether cycling should be allowed on the nice wide promenade next to the beach at Portobello has been raised. This is as a result of the Council renewing the ‘No Cycling’ signs. So in spite of years of pressure from cyclists, (some) local residents and Safe Routes to School campaigners, the status quo has been reinforced.

There had been an assumption in some quarters that the new Access Legislation would automatically mean that responsible, non-motorised, users would be allowed. However it is classed as a road so restricting cyclists is legal, though it’s still not clear if there is an alternative to banning all cyclists at all times. The Council could promote a Traffic Order (subject to the usual consultation) allowing cycling for an experimental period.

At one point the Police were enforcing the ban – but in recent years they have adopted a fairly pragmatic approach, only intervening when cyclists have been caught behaving dangerously. Individual officers have also been known to recommend the route (at least for children) as being safer than the High Street.

Spokes activist and Portobello resident Ian Maxwell says – “the case for allowing cycling is strong. Towerbank Primary School enjoys what is probably one of the best cycling and walking routes to school in Scotland, and they now have the highest rate of cycling to school in Edinburgh (12%), largely due to the Prom.” (There was in time in Edinburgh when under 12s were allowed to cycle on paths under local bylaws.)

“SPOKES has always supported the opening up of the Prom to cycling, as a recognition of what actually happens. If there is to be enforcement, it should be directed at reckless cyclists – we would be happy with signs saying ‘careful cyclists welcome’, but we object to being lumped together with dog mess and broken glass.”

The photo shows a sign near Margate which recognises that there are times of year and times of day when it might be reasonable to restrict cycling. A ban until 6.00 wouldn’t help pupils coming home from school, though they wouldn’t be in such a hurry as in the morning. In Brighton there is a different approach with a clearly marked cycle path.

As Ian Maxwell points out – “there is still considerably hostility to allowing cycling on the prom, and I think local councillors have been wary of taking sides, especially in an election year.”

The Promenade is currently in two council wards. (The May election will introduce Proportional Representation with multi-member wards.) The current councillors are Maureen Child and Lawrence Marshall. Both are generally regarded as ‘cycle friendly’ but are somewhat caught in the middle!

Maureen Child says – “I get most complaints from people using Esplanade Terrace – or other narrow bits with blind corners – they feel that the Promenade should be a safe place for small children and elderly people (in particular) to wander, potter and toddle about without fear of the danger they might be knocked down by a fast cyclist.”

“Personally, I can’t understand why pedestrians and cyclists don’t mix well in this country as they do in Holland, but they just don’t seem to. Quite how we make that cultural change, and build up mutual trust, I don’t know.”

Lawrence Marshall advocates continued pragmatism – “I’ve let sleeping dogs lie on this for years because, to do otherwise, will mean a big battle that will only result in animosity to no practical end. It’s not perfect re. being nice and clear cut but sometimes life’s the better for being a bit of a muddle! It works just now in a way which most people find OK – so best left alone (even if they renew the signs now and again!)”

So the message seems to be clear, ‘it’s illegal, but be careful, don’t run anyone over, ignore the irate pedestrians who tell you it’s illegal – which is likely to be the case immediately after the Council renews the signs – and generally don’t worry because cyclists are above the law and Scotland isn’t about to introduce zero tolerance’, (except perhaps for litter).

If you live in Portobello, or use the Prom, you might like to ask candidates in the coming election which side they are on – or if they could think of a workable compromise. Perhaps point out that Edinburgh is involved in creating The North Sea Cycle Route which would bring more locals and tourists to the area. The Edinburgh section was called “The Boardwalk” in a report to Council last year – but the name is unlikely to stick!

There is of course the possibility that ‘inconsiderate cyclists’ are trying to get along the Prom as fast as possible because they know they are not supposed to be there…

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, holidays, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School, walking | 1 Comment »

Forth Bridge Update

Posted by chdot on February 15, 2007

As predicted yesterday by The ForthRight Alliance (see story below), the Scottish Cabinet (joint Labour/LibDem coalition) has decided that there will be a new crossing of the Forth Estuary. This is in spite of previous indications that a decision wouldn’t be made until technical reports on the state of the existing Forth Road Bridge were published.

This won’t be until after the (May) election. Of course it would be easy to be cynical about the timing and content of this announcement. The cynics and conspiracy theorists are alive and well in the on-line ‘readers’ comments’ section at the bottom of the Scotsman story – always worth a read if you need reassurance about the diversity of the human race.

Whether or not another new bridge is necessary or desirable is, in theory, still to be debated when the technical reports are finished. However as CyclingEdinburgh reported in December, some ‘sustainable transport’ campaigners expect that a new crossing will be built – whatever the cost, financial and environmental. The ‘big’ questions are whether the old bridge will remain and whether overall capacity will increase with or without traffic restraining measures (including tolls, which there are campaigns against. NOTE “HGVs across the Forth Road Bridge pay only £2.00 a trip, a pitiful sum compared to the £15.30 paid by lorries on the Severn Bridge, and the £18.30 paid on the Humber Bridge.” Source TRANSform Scotland)

Colin Howden, Director of TRANSform Scotland, said yesterday – “Today’s announcement appears to be no more than a pre-election give-away to Fife. This is not a sound basis on which to make investment decisions of more than £1 billion. Nothing the Executive has published today demonstrates that the existing bridge cannot be repaired. We require conclusive evidence on this matter. Any new crossing which provides additional capacity for car commuting would be totally unsustainable, and would make a mockery of the raft of commitments recently made on tackling climate change.”

Rational joined-up-transport-policies are not expected soon. One question hardly ever asked is ‘what about pedestrians and cyclists?’ This is even more important at this stage if there is a possibility that the existing bridge will be removed because it would be too expensive to maintain even for light traffic. Whatever happens, the provision of a safe cycle route to the bridge(s) from Edinburgh is even more important.

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Campaigners Anticipate Bridge Announcement

Posted by chdot on February 14, 2007

The ForthRight Alliance is condemning the decision it expects today (Wednesday 14th February) by Scottish Ministers to press ahead with a new Forth crossing despite not having all the facts about the current state of the existing bridge. The initial technical report is not expected until the end of May, with the full detailed report unlikely before next year.

The ForthRight Alliance is publishing its own proposals The case against the Second Forth Road Bridge, which sets out a range of sustainable alternatives to an environmentally-destructive new road bridge.

Paul Tetlaw, Chair of TRANSform Scotland, says – “The Scottish Ministers must wait until they have comprehensive evidence of the current state of the Forth Road Bridge before taking any premature decision. So far, there appears to have been no interest in examining the facts or considering sustainable, smarter alternatives. In recent weeks, all the major parties have been clamouring to stake out their environmental credentials. Yet on crucial decisions such as this all of the parties have shown themselves unable to take hard decisions to defend the environment.”

The report concludes –

It would be simply poor governance for the Scottish Executive to be forced into a decision to build a new Forth Road Bridge before all the relevant facts are known.

If it has already been decided to build a Second Forth Road Bridge on the basis of ‘emerging findings’ from the current engineering study of the bridge cables, then these need to be published so that a transparent and informed debate can take place.

The people of Scotland are entitled to know all the options and alternatives before a decision is taken to press ahead with spending up to £1 billion of their money on the country’s biggest transport infrastructure scheme for decades.

If conclusive evidence demonstrates that it is not feasible to keep the existing bridge open to traffic, a replacement crossing would be acceptable, but only with more effective traffic management and enhanced capacity for public transport.

An additional – rather than replacement – crossing would be an unmitigated disaster. It would be environmentally, socially and economically damaging, and of no benefit to Edinburgh, Fife or Scotland.

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, paths, ride, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Love Your Bike

Posted by chdot on February 14, 2007

valentine wheel

Give it a pat, give it wash, give it a polish, oil its chain, blow up its tyres.

A bike is for life not just Valentine’s Day.

Love Your Bike is also a fine, award winning, cycle promotion campaign from Friends of the Earth Manchester.

Photo and image © chdot

Posted in citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle racing, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, ride | Comments Off on Love Your Bike

Borders Gets Serious about Mountain Biking

Posted by chdot on February 13, 2007

Ask any young Edinburgh Mountain Biker where they’d like to ride and the word “Glentress” is likely to get an early mention. Older ones will probably have it on their list too. There was a time when ‘The Pentlands’ (recent management plan, PDF 3.6 Mb) was the most likely destination, both in aspiration and reality.

The success of Glentress is an interesting mix of geography (steep hills), ownership (Forestry Commission Scotland which added the trees and trails) and people, including Emma Guy and Tracy Brunger who have created The Hub In The Forest (“friendly café and bike shop“), plus support from Scottish Borders Council and the Local Enterprise Company – Scottish Enterprise Borders.

Last week tenders were invited for a passenger uplift service at the downhill mountain bike venue at Innerleithen. This week it was announced that the report behind that move also said that “installing the world’s first dedicated mountain bike chairlift system in Innerleithen could create 200 new jobs and generate more than £6 million a year for the Scottish economy.”

The report was commissioned by Scottish Enterprise Borders. Its Director of Strategy, Dr Julian Pace, says – “The success of mountain biking at Traquair Forest and Glentress, means the Tweed Valley region is fast becoming a favourite location for beginners and enthusiasts. This report demonstrates there is now a real opportunity to capitalise on that success and position the Borders as one of the world’s leading mountain bike destinations.”

“We are now looking forward to working with our partners to identify how we progress with the chairlift system and ensure that future development at Tweed Valley will deliver significant economic benefits while minimising the impact on the local infrastructure, environment and community.”

Christina Tracey from Forestry Commission Scotland added – “We will continue to work with the partners in looking at the options for growing the venue in a sustainable way.” Bryan McGrath, Head of Economic Development & Regeneration at SBC says “the project isn’t just about mountain bikers, it could open up all sorts of tourism opportunities in the surrounding area.”

SEB is looking at further development in the Tweed Valley as part of a wider ‘Adventure Sports’ strategy, “focusing on activities that capitalise on the natural assets of the Borders, to help position it as one of the UK’s main locations for outdoor leisure activities such as equestrianism, mountain biking and diving, which will attract more overseas visitors as well as those from across the UK.”

It is also looking at ‘cultural events’, this could include something like Edinburgh’s Bicycle Film Festival – perhaps with a Filmmakers Festival which might produce Scottish versions of Bits 3, CKD and Kranked 6: Progression! Film Festivals across the UK recently launched The Bike Film and Animation Award “to showcase bike culture”.

‘Sustainable’ and ‘green’ tourism are very much popular notions in Governmental and Economic Development circles these days. Minister for Tourism Patricia Ferguson said recently that the aim is “to grow tourism revenues by 50 per cent, between 2005 and 2015. Our ambition is for Scotland to be the most sustainable tourism destination in Europe. We can achieve this by offering an all year round experience for visitors, and encouraging them to spend more during their stay and visit a wider variety of the country’s tourist attractions. This strategy will help to both boost the economy and lessen the impact on the environment.”

That is clearly a selection of soundbites and not a detailed policy, but gives no indication of what will actually be done to get people to visit more places AND reduce the impact on the environment.

Much more could be done to increase cycle tourism (where people actually travel by bike). It’s a pity that a safe cycle route from Edinburgh to the Forth Road Bridge isn’t more of a priority.

‘Sustainable’ travellers to the Borders will benefit from the Waverley Railway Project. This is due to run from Edinburgh to Galashiels in 2011. (Hopes for completion by 2008 hit the realities of Parliamentary and planning processes.)

In the meantime it would be good if it was easier to get to the Tweed Valley from Edinburgh by Public Transport – especially with a bike.

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, bike security theft, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, cycle racing, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, holidays, Maps, paths, ride, Shawfair, sswc07, TryCycling, walking | 1 Comment »

Forestry Commission Bike Rangers Reach England

Posted by chdot on February 12, 2007

The Corstorphine based Forestry Commission already has two bicycle using rangers in the Tweed Valley Area, (you could become a Volunteer Ranger there). Now the FC was introduced the idea to Dalby Forest on the southern slopes of the North York Moors National Park. The new 34-mile network, including extensive single-track mountain bike routes, will be officially unveiled in May.

Ranger Stuart Startup will be responsible for checking trails, supervising maintenance work and providing a link between the public and forest chiefs and engineers. “Getting in the saddle is the best way for me to do this job.”

Edinburgh has a growing number of police officers on bikes – the idea is about to be extended from the city centre to local community beat officers in areas including Craigmillar. Perhaps it’s time the Council had a few to patrol cycle paths and streets to see what cyclists have to deal with daily!

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, holidays, paths, ride, TryCycling, walking | 3 Comments »

Touring East Lothian

Posted by chdot on February 11, 2007

mrcc map
map and info © Musselburgh Roads Cycling Club Publications

If you’re out in East Lothian next Sunday you might come across a few cyclists on a ‘Tour’. The event is organised (for the 19th time) by the Musselburgh Roads Cycling Club. If you fancy taking part, it’s too late this year as entries have closed, but there’s sure to be a 20th ride. In the meantime you could try the route yourself (perhaps when the weather gets warmer) with the help of the detailed map (PDF 113kb) and route notes. The Tour takes in, mostly, quiet roads from the coast to the 1400 foot heights of the Lammermuirs.

MRCC’s Tour is organised under Audax UK (AUK) regulations and “is not a race but a cycle touring ride. The event objective is to complete the course within specified time limits. You can ride the event on your own, with a group of your friends or ride with other entrants matching your pace. The distance is approximately 65 miles (105 kilometres) and you can take from 3½ hours to 8 hours to complete the ride.”

“You are given a control card, which you get stamped at control points during the ride; this is to confirm that you have completed the full route. 2 of the control point on this route are at cafes, giving you the chance to stop for refreshments. The card is sent to AUK after the event to validate that you completed the ride according to the rules. It is then returned to you as a memento of the ride.”

Audax rides are organised throughout the UK (calendar) and many other parts of the world especially the ‘Continent’ – which is why distances are measured in Kilometres. The most famous is the Paris Brest Paris (PBP), annually entered by hundreds of riders for the whole 1200 Km.

The next local audax starts in Rosewell (Midlothian) on March the 4th – merely 201Km.

Later this year, Scotland hosts a similar event (not simply a race and open to all over 18). The Etape Caledonia will be held on Sunday 24th June 2007 with two versions – 134 and 45 Km. This event is being organised by the people behind the London Triathlon and will bring closed road racing to the UK for almost the first time. Big professional races such as the Tour of Britain (starts Glasgow September 7th) are protected by “rolling road closures”, usually created by Police motorcyclists. The Etape Caledonia will close Perthshire roads for up to 5 hours, protecting all but the slowest stragglers.

Posted in citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle racing, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride, tandem, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »