Archive for February 1st, 2007

Climate Change in Election Year

Posted by chdot on February 1, 2007

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its long-anticipated ‘Fourth Assessment Report’ tomorrow. This is expected to provide the most compelling evidence yet of the human cause of climate change and its devastating impacts.

TRANSform Scotland, the “national sustainable transport alliance”, is calling for all Scottish political parties to state (in their election manifestos) what they would do to “make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from the Scottish transport sector”.

TRANSform Scotland points out that transport is one of the main contributors to climate change. It says “despite widespread agreement on the need to take decisive action on this issue, there is little evidence that the Scottish transport sector is taking measures to reduce emissions: car use and road freight levels continue to increase, air travel growth is uncontrolled, while vehicle efficiency is failing to make significant improvement”.

TRANSform’s Director, Colin Howden, says “The Scottish Executive has fallen far short on the action needed to reduce transport’s impact on the environment. From throwing subsidies at airline companies to bulldozing through new motorways, their performance remains poor. Even more disturbingly, the Executive’s agenda has faced little or no effective scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament – with the major opposition parties, the SNP and the Tories, advocating an even more irresponsible set of policies.”

Never one to mince his words, Colin continues, “In light of the IPCC’s damning conclusions, urgent action is needed in the Scottish transport sector in order to reduce its emissions. Unfortunately, there is so far little evidence that the Scottish political class have the gumption to take up this challenge. It will be interesting to see whether any of the major Scottish political parties are prepared to set out in their election manifestos credible programmes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport. So far, all they seem capable of is pandering to greedy and unsustainable demands for cheaper travel and more roads and airports.”

There seems to be increasing evidence that everyone in the world will be affected by Climate Change, most likely in an adverse way. Compared with having to move house because of rising sea levels, driving and flying less can’t really be seen as a ‘hardship’.

Most people (perhaps understandably) are waiting for politicians and governments to set a good example, it remains to be seen if any of the political parties in the Holyrood and local council elections will come up with useful suggestions or meaningful pledges. Politicians seem to believe (perhaps understandably) that people (voters) want to drive where they choose and have cheap foreign holidays…

Cars Make Me An Awful Human Being

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, holidays, ride, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Overspend Hits Cyclists

Posted by chdot on February 1, 2007

cycling against the traffic A90
Heading home to Fife right next to oncoming cars

The recently created ‘transport authority’ for south east Scotland (SESTran) has disproportionately cut back planned spending on cycle facilities in the coming financial year.

As pointed out by Spokes in the current Spokesworker (download PDF 169kb) the amount involved for cycle projects has been “massacred from £610K to a mere £100K in 07/08”. Why the overspend wasn’t equally spread across all budgets isn’t clear. Perhaps someone decided that motorists are more important or maybe they complain more loudly…

Much of the money was destined for cross (council) borders routes. One ideal, and long overdue, candidate is the A90 route. From Edinburgh to the Forth Road Bridge (and on to Fife).

A few years ago it was decided that the A90 was ‘too dangerous for cyclists’ and they were (and still are) banned. This was in spite of much lobbying by cycle interests. Some objected to bikes being banned from main roads (they are also banned from the City Bypass) but all objectors were insistent that a ‘suitable alternative’ should be provided. (They are still waiting.)

In spite of the route being part of NCN Route 76 (and 1) the route is dreadful – especially between Cramond and Dalmeny. Paul Arbuckle regularly commutes from Rosyth to The Gyle (about 12 miles). He says “I am a keen cyclist and the distance between my home and work is to me an ideal distance to commute by bicycle.” He is one of a number of people who have written to SESTRAN Chair, Cllr Russell Imrie, c/o Midlothian Council, Buccleuch St, Dalkeith EH22 1DJ (e-mail) with his views. On the path next to the A90 (see photo) he says –

“I would describe it as extremely dangerous and unsuitable for bike use. In places it is approximately one metre wide, which means if you meet someone travelling in the opposite direction you need to stop. The surface is very bumpy and slippery and constantly strewn with debris, and worst of all due to its sunken level, when cycling down the hill northbound, the cycling eye-level is at the same level as car headlights travelling in the opposite direction. This added to the fact that there is no lighting along the pathway means that you simply cannot see what’s in front of you.”

He also copied his letter to City of Edinburgh Council Leader Ewan Aitken and adds – “I find it ridiculous that for a city of Edinburgh’s size, this is the only route open to cyclists from the North of getting into the city. We are constantly told of concerns about Edinburgh’s air pollution and the damage that the volume of traffic travelling into Edinburgh is doing to the capital.”

“Cycling is, as I’m sure you are aware, benficial to the city, the environment and of course the cyclist, and yet to me there seems to be an abject lack of provision for those who wish to take advantage of the benefits of a cycling commute. I know there are plans afoot to put in place more sustainable transport options within the city centre, such as trams, but that does nothing for your cycling (or potential cycling) public. Nor does it do anything to promote cycling as an attractive or even viable alternative to motorists.”

Another Fife based commuter says that over the past year he has e-mailed his MP, SUSTRANS repeatedly, Edinburgh Council repeatedly and commented on the issue in his response to the SEStran questionnaire. “They all claim to be sympathetic yet no one is willing to address the issue other than in general platitudes.”

He concludes “I’m at my wits end with the whole thing.” Of course that was before the latest postponement of spending on much needed facilities to improve the lives of existing cyclists and allow those ‘who would like to, but…’

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, paths, ride | 5 Comments »