Archive for March, 2007

Rail for the Future

Posted by chdot on March 31, 2007

Bedrock bike
Dave Holladay sculpture on A to B Photo Sustrans.

Busy time for railways around Edinburgh. Work to re-open part of the Waverley Route began in Galashiels this week. The ‘new’ line to Edinburgh will re-open in 2011, joining up with the existing ‘CrossRail‘ at Newcraighall.

Also approved this week is the rail re-connection of Aidrie and Bathgate. The former rail line trackbed is currently in use as a key Sustrans cycle route (NR 75). A replacement cyclepath will be provided, though the precise alignment is not decided.

Building a new railway isn’t cheap. By comparison bringing stopping passenger trains back to the South Suburban Loop (through Morningside and Craigmillar) would be a bargain. Today, many passengers are experiencing the scenic delights due to engineering work – but there are no stations to stop off at! CRAG (Capital Rail Action Group) has re-energised its long running campaign with a new web site – Scottish Parliament petition NOW ON-LINE.

Also campaigning on rail is the CTC. “Cycling and rail travel are perfect partners. The combination provides a ‘doorstep-to-destination’ option for longer-distance journeys which might otherwise be possible only by car. It is also a really simple way to set about tackling a whole range of problems all in one go: obesity, air pollution, congestion and climate change to name but a few.” – Jon Snow CTC President. More info – you can easily send a message to your MP (just add your post code).

Still on tracks – Spokes is continuing to try to persuade tie to allow bikes on the trams (when they arrive). This would be a UK first, and certainly, officially, a wish of the Council. It seems that the tram operators are not keen – just like Lothian Buses, which accepts buggies but not Bromptons.

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, paths, ride, Shawfair, TryCycling, What the papers say | 1 Comment »

Bike Manufacturer says “Spend More on Bicycle Advocacy”

Posted by chdot on March 28, 2007

trek graph.jpg
“Bicycle advocacy” is American for cycle campaigning. John Burke, President of Trek USA, has created a PowerPoint presentation about why bike companies should increase their financial support of bicycle advocates and political lobbying groups.

The presentation is a conscious echo of the surprise ‘hit’ about Climate Change by Al Gore – An Inconvenient Truth. Burke is unlikely to find the time to do such an extensive tour as Gore did – after all he IS a President!

However the talk has so far been given twice, first at the National Bike Summit in Washington DC two weeks ago (available as audio plus the PowerPoint slides as PP and PDF at and again on Sunday to Taiwan’s bike industry leaders at the Taipei trade show.

The venues are significant, the first is the Capital of the gas guzzling world, the second is Capital of a major bike manufacturing country. Actually production of bicycles is increasing being done in ‘low wage’ countries, but Taiwan is still a key player which emerged as a world leader with the development of TIG welding for frames.

BikeBiz editor Carlton Reid has more on his site and has also posted a video of the talk and the actual PowerPoint slides on the web.

In Edinburgh Spokes has been (most effectively) campaigning for THIRTY years, with hardly a penny from anyone. Bike shops support Spokes by buying adverts in its publications and some money has come from Government sources for specific projects. Most Spokes income is from members and the sale of Spokes Maps.

The maps are direct spin off from campaigning. A new Edinburgh map is due in June and Spokes is working with Go Bike! (the Strathclyde Cycle Campaign) on a new map for Glasgow. In recent years other important bicycle promotional activities have been encouraged (and sometimes financially kick-started) by Spokes.

In 2002 Castlecliff Bicycle Workshop was created to recycle bikes, offer them to people without bikes, (initially by working with organisations dealing with homeless people), and selling surplus bikes to the general public. It was also a place where people could fix their own bikes and improve their skills.

This project developed into the Bike Station – initially at Waverley (Station) and now Causewayside. The Bike Station has added Cycle Training as a practical promotional ‘tool’.

The other significant spin-off is TryCycling in Edinburgh which has monthly rides for the “nervous and novice” which are giving people the confidence to cycle to work. It is also promoting cycling generally with stalls at various festivals and many mentions in the press. It is also responsible for some of the activities under the Craigmillar Cycles umbrella.

image from John Burke presentation
In the UK a levy on new bikes is paid by most manufacturers and importers to the Bike Hub this funds useful things including the bikeforall web site. Initially Scotland was ‘forgotten’ about and all the money was spent south of the border!

Trek’s John Burke says that for every $100 of sales, bike companies typically spend $3.90 on marketing, $1.60 on R&D but just 10 cents on advocacy. Equivalent figures for the UK have probably not been calculated but there can be no doubt that (for instance) spending by Transport for London to promote cycling (along with the Congestion Charge) has boosted cycling significantly (“In 2006/7, Transport for London invested £24.1m in cycling. This will rise to £36.1m in 2007/8. That increase now means London spends more on cycling than the whole of the rest of England put together”. BikeBiz story). The Council in Edinburgh has scored badly on ‘promotion’ in the past, but there have been some improvements recently.

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Maps, recycling, ride, TryCycling, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Did You Know?

Posted by chdot on March 28, 2007

Cycle Speedway at Redbraes
Photo Tommy Lee.

“The 50’s and 60’s saw Cycle Speedway in Scotland continue to flourish, with as many as 60 teams competing in Edinburgh at one time in the 60’s, the Edinburgh “Festival Weekend” held at Davidson Mains also proved popular with the top riders throughout the U.K and was regarded as one of the premier events in the sport.” (Source)

The track was between Main Street and the railway/cycle path just before Ferry Road – there are houses there now. The only Speedway track left in Edinburgh is in Redbraes Park where Edinburgh Falcons race.

The first meeting of the 2007 season is on Sunday. (April 1st). Why not go to watch, cheer and ask how you can get a shot – the club is always looking for new members!

Posted in citycycling, cycle racing, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh | 2 Comments »

Cheap Bike Bits Week at Lidl

Posted by chdot on March 26, 2007

German supermarket chain Lidl is famous for its slightly odd bargain offers. Next week it’s underwear and toys. On Thursday there’ll be items for home decorating, plus sets of NiMH batteries at £1.99 – which might be a bargain.

From today there’s a collection of bike related products including bells at 49p, tools and very cheap helmets.

“Only available while stocks last.”

Posted in citycycling, commuting, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh | 4 Comments »

Local Tories Plan More Bikes

Posted by chdot on March 20, 2007

berlin hire bikes
In Germany bike hire schemes are run by the railway (DB).

There’s an election coming (Spokes Hustings on Thursday – see “Coming Soon” on right). The Conservatives in Edinburgh have issued their manifesto. The Evening News has highlighted a cycling proposal. In the past this would be a ‘joke’ story, but things are changing, cycling is now a ‘real’ story – not least in Edinburgh.

French firm JC Decaux, which runs schemes in several European cities, has recently got the contract to bring 14,000 (FREE!) hire bikes to the streets of Paris. Edinburgh Tory group leader Iain Whyte says “I saw the system work for myself when I was in Lyon and thought it was a fantastic idea.” The Evening News story quotes politicians from other parties as being generally in favour of the idea. (‘Politicians agree on need for more bikes, shock horror!!’)

Of course an Evening News‘ on-line reader brings it all back to ‘reality’ “The wee neds would have a field day here, This is chavvy Edinburgh, Not Amsterdam….” So is the UK/Scotland/Edinburgh SO bad? Maybe it’s the time to find out. The various bike hire schemes tend to be paid for (wholly or partly) by on-street advertising – JC Decaux is a ‘street furniture/advertising’ company.

This is certainly something that the Council’s ‘arm’s length’ company tie should look at in connection with the tram plans – not least because the work on the tram infrastructure (starting VERY soon) is going to disrupt things so much that cycling will certainly be the best way to travel round Edinburgh!

Posted in bike security theft, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride, Safe Routes to School, TryCycling, walking | 3 Comments »

Core Paths – Have YOUR Say

Posted by chdot on March 17, 2007

core paths Edinburgh leaflet
One requirement of Scotland’s Access Legislation is for local authorities to identify “Core Paths” with the idea of creating a “network”.

Edinburgh had an Access Forum before it was a legal requirement and so was well placed to start the CPN process. An access forum brings together various interest groups – landowners (public and private), walkers, cyclists, horse riders etc.

City of Edinburgh Council has had an Access Officer for a number of years. The current postholder is Alan McGregor who has an interesting job interpreting the legislation and trying to ensure that the Council (as well as other landowners) complies with the letter (and spirit) of the law. The law now allows people to cycle through the Hermitage of Braid. Alan was largely responsible for making sure that the council overturned its previous ban.

On one level, identifying core paths is easy. Many are obvious – The Water of Leith, the Union Canal, the North Edinburgh Path Network, The Innocent. The difficult bit is knitting them together to create a network. Cyclepath charity Sustrans has done some of the work with its National Cycle Network – which is why part of Edinburgh’s proposed Core Path Network includes such (apparently unlikely) places as The Mound and George Street!

This highlights the fact that a usable path network – for walking or cycling – cannot be a collection of unrelated paths. Edinburgh (like most other cities) has to work harder to improve the ‘sustainable travel’ ‘experience’ if there is to be any chance of persuading many more people that it’s desirable, and possible, to drive less.

This year’s European Mobility Week has the theme Streets for People, which is highly relevant – “Road space reallocation is not about making life difficult for car drivers but it is about improving mobility options and quality of urban life for all.” Even parts of America are beginning to get the message.

The Core Path Network proposals in Edinburgh are at a crucial stage. A series of eight public events have been arranged starting next Wednesday and finishing with TreeFest in June. More details will be available on the Edinburgh Core Paths web site next week.

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Maps, paths, ride, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Flood Prevention – Opportunity for Cycling?

Posted by chdot on March 16, 2007

Braid Burn Flood prevention path
Click for larger photo.

Today’s front page story (Evening News) that “MINISTERS today gave the go-ahead for the controversial flood-prevention plans for the Water of Leith” is generally good news. Though the decision to exempt Murrayfield from playing its part (as a natural flood plain) will ensure that the controversy continues.

The work is currently costed at £47 million and will mean new walls, some higher than the Council (and residents) wanted and changes to paths in some places. It is therefore crucial that the design details are done well.

Ever since the damaging floods in 2000 the Council has been planning flood prevention measures for the Water of Leith and the Braid Burn. Gradually new infrastructure is being put in place starting with The Braid Burn. The photo shows the view from Firrhill Crescent towards Oxgangs Road North. Previously there was a narrow path with steps at the end (see Google Earth image).

In spite of there being room for a wider path, this has not been created. Worse, there is a completely unnecessary ‘dogleg’ in the middle. This is not just a local path serving a few houses. It should also be part of the Braid Burn Walk and Cycleway – one of Edinburgh’s long distance waterside routes from the Pentlands to the Forth.

Lothian cycle campaign Spokes has only just pointed out, in its latest Bulletin, that the area where the council falls down most seriously in fostering cycle use is the failure to integrate cycling into other relevant areas of transport and other policies – “cycling is often an afterthought, treated abysmally unless Spokes and our members shame the council into a rethink”.

As Ian Maxwell of Spokes says – “We hope that pointing out these missed opportunities will reduce the chance of this sort of thing happening again. The Council should ensure that any road or path works are undertaken with opportunities for cyclists in mind, maximising the return from their investment and avoiding the need for expensive retrofitting.”

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Book Launch at Bicycle Film Festival

Posted by chdot on March 13, 2007

Robert millar book
A new biography of a top racing cyclist by Scottish sports journalist Richard Moore is scheduled for publication in June.

Book signings are being planned in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Islay and a film about Robert Millar at the height of his fame is expected to launch this year’s Bicycle Film Festival.

Millar is regarded as Scotland’s best ever road racer. His televised Tour de France successes inspired many. (That was when the TdeF was on Channel 4 at tea time!)

After finishing his professional racing career he became a team coach, though it was not a job that really suited him. Since then he has ‘disappeared’. Few people know where he lives – “maybe in the south of England”. His last public appearance in Scotland is believed to have been in 1998.

Moore was in a Scottish team coached by Millar so brings insights that other journalists would miss. However even this isn’t enough to shine light into dark corners of this enigmatic former star. “None of anyone’s business” was the straightforward response to one of Richard’s e-mail which attempted to find the truth behind one rumour that is attached to the apparent recluse.

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

Important Report Now Online

Posted by chdot on March 12, 2007

rcep report
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is “an independent body, appointed by the Queen and funded by the Government, which publishes in-depth reports on what it identifies as the crucial environmental issues facing the UK and the world.”

Last week it published a 232 page report (paper version £32.50) which “examines the environment within urban areas and the wider environmental impacts of towns and cities, and considers the relationship between the urban environment and human health and wellbeing.”

The full report contains many references to walking and cycling, not least – “Cars and lorries and their associated infrastructure (roads, car parks, road signs, traffic-lights, road markings) all too often dominate towns and cities, blighting urban landscapes and making more sustainable forms of transport, such as walking or cycling, unpleasant and sometimes dangerous. The whole design of many urban areas revolves around one thing: access for cars and delivery vehicles. There are some UK cities where the dominance of the car has been, or is being, successfully challenged (2.29), with the result that such urban areas are now seen as highly desirable places to live and work”

There is also a 28 page summary. Under the heading “New infrastructure should contribute to environmental sustainability” it states “Transport – We recommend that before development plans are approved, the government publishes a clear assessment of the transport infrastructure needs for all proposed housing growth, how they will be funded and the environmental and health impacts of meeting those needs. This should be accompanied by a clear plan for phasing in the necessary supporting infrastructure, such that new transport provision is environmentally sustainable.”

Not surprisingly the report hasn’t had a great deal of media coverage. It made the Today programme on Radio 4 and the Independant which began its article with “Why on earth would increased car ownership in urban areas lead to flash flooding?” People living alongside the Water of Leith (especially those who suffered in the 2000 flood) might like to look at the diagram on page 7 of the main report or page 2 of the summary.

Edinburgh is one of the few cities in Britain that didn’t have (too much of) its heart ripped out for roads and redevelopments. Councillors, planners and people interested in sane city living should at least skim these documents. Some would be future councillors might be quizzed about it at the Spokes Council Hustings: Policy on Cycling and Transport Thursday on the 22nd of March

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle parking, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, Safe Routes to School, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Diary Update

Posted by chdot on March 12, 2007

The Diary on this site has been pretty useless in recent months. Various ways have been investigated of producing something useful, attractive, ‘smart’ – and simple to update. A diary for cycling and transport related events in and around Edinburgh (and some further away) has been set up using Google Calendar. Click the “Agenda” tab for a list of events.

There is no intention of making this comprehensively ‘everything to do with cycling’. If you are interested in rides, the best list is at For racing events go to Details of Bike Week activities will be at

Please suggest an entry if you think other people would be interested.

If you use iCal you can subscribe to the calendar – and get automatic updates if you enable that option on your computer.

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