Archive for May, 2007

Highway Code Improved by CTC Pressure

Posted by chdot on May 31, 2007

Plans to reword the Highway Code so that cyclists would be ‘expected’ to use ‘cycle facilities’ have been dropped.

A high profile campaign by the CTC included 11,000 letters to MPs and an on-line petition which attracted 20,000 signatures is likely to have helped!

Forty rules that benefit cyclists are being changed. Currently the proposed wording for key Rule 61 is –

“Cycle Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.”

As the CTC says – “The new version makes clear that cyclists have every right to cycle on the road.”

There is to be a ‘stakeholders’ consultation process in the next few weeks to finalise the new Highway Code, which will be in operation soon afterwards.

More details – there is another petition to sign.

Posted in citycycling, commuting, critical mass, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, ride, Safety, What the papers say | 1 Comment »

Which Planet Do You Live On?

Posted by chdot on May 28, 2007

wwf footprint.jpg
Cyclists are generally virtuous, smug even. All the emphasis on ‘Global Warming’/’Climate Change has, to some extent, obscured the concerns about resource use. Even if everyone’s lifestyles produced no ‘Greenhouse Gases’, there’s still the stuff to produce the “Stuff”. Much of it is dug out of the ground – fossil fuels, minerals etc . – processes, by definition, not sustainable.

Now environmental group WWF Scotland has produced a sophisticated on-line calculator. Even its environmentally aware people in the case studies find it hard to get below the ‘need’ for THREE Planets to sustain their lifestyles.

Posted in citycycling, commuting, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, holidays, recycling, ride, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 2 Comments »

FoE Appeals to Lords

Posted by chdot on May 23, 2007

Following the Appeal Court ruling that Critical Masses in London are “not exempt from the requirement to give advance notice under the Public Order Act”, Friends of the Earth are taking the case to The House of Lords.

FoE’s Rights & Justice Centre has been acting for Des Kay. He had challenged the Metropolitan Police’s claim that London’s Critical Mass was unlawful and that cyclists taking part were liable to prosecution. The point of law revolves around the issue of whether (in the London case) rides are “customarily held” – and therefore exempt.

The Divisional Court ruled that – “an unbroken succession of over 140 of these collective cycle rides, … cannot by now sensibly be called anything but common or customary.” Two out of three Appeal Court judges disagreed!

Tension between cyclists and ‘authorities’ is not new, especially in relation to Critical Mass. The CM ‘movement’ is a spontaneous worldwide (in over 400 cities) gathering of cyclists (usually one day each month). The ‘main’ web site says “Critical Mass is not an organization, it’s an unorganized coincidence. It’s a movement … of bicycles, in the streets. Accordingly, this isn’t the official Critical Mass web page, because there is no official Critical Mass web page. There are, however, a bunch of unofficial web pages.”

Organisation surrounding critical masses is to encourage more people to take part, so there are flyers, web sites (Glasgow has one), but at the events there are no organisers. Routes are decided by consensus – or whoever is at the front. Next CMs in Scotland are on Friday at 5.30 – Edinburgh; Foot of The Mound, Glasgow; George Square.

Posted in citycycling, commuting, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, ride | 2 Comments »

The Case for Sustaining Cycle Spending

Posted by chdot on May 23, 2007

spokes letter to swinney.jpg
Spokes is 30. (??.9.07). That’s nearly thirty years of campaigning and information provision through leaflets and newsletters and (in recent years) its web site.

To provide such a service there are a handful of volunteers (no staff). One particularly crucial part of this work is information collection. For ten years Spokes has conducted an annual survey of cycle project expenditure by all Scottish local authorities. Most are willing to answer a series of detailed questions about their spending on what has become known as “Sustainable Transport”.

The Scottish Executive even has a Sustainable Transport Team “within the Scottish Government itself, … bringing together for the first time, policy on cycling and walking with our wider sustainable transport agenda”. (Extract from last year’s National Transport Strategy)

Spokes is concerned that this, and policies favourable to cycling, might be under threat from the new SNP led Government. The Lothian Cycle Campaign’s ‘chief factfinder and pamphleteer’, Dave du Feu has written to John Swinney MSP the new “Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth”. The letter outlines some of the pro-cycling measures in Scotland and, in response to the new Government’s plans for reform, says – “we strongly appeal for you to retain the Sustainable Transport Team which was set up in the Executive last year. This was a really important symbolic move, and we believe that it is beginning to prove a very effective improvement on the previous arrangements.”

Spokes proposes measures that would greatly improve on the current position and notes that – “the most consistent and forcefully expressed wish by cycle officers in our annual survey is for forward budgets, to allow time for proper planning, public consultation, land acquisition and phased project work.” In recent years extra money has been offered to councils well into the financial year for spending before April. Some councils, including Edinburgh, have been unable to prepare their best ‘bids’ as staff are already committed to existing projects.

Spokes has copied the two page letter to all Lothian MSPs. One reason that Spokes is so successful is that its supporters also write letters and send e-mails to their MSPs and councillors.

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, walking | Leave a Comment »

Moving On – and Up

Posted by chdot on May 22, 2007

parson's green path
Path at PGPS during construction.

Sustrans is 30. (7.7.07). Headquartered in Bristol, it has its Scottish base in Edinburgh. Over the past long weekend it has moved from a West End basement to something slightly superior, (and bigger), closer to the Scottish Executive.

That is perhaps a co-incidence! The SE is increasingly recognising the importance of cycling and also the crucial role that Sustrans can play in providing infrastructure – both long distance routes and local links. The recent path at Parson’s Green Primary was created by the Council using SE funding channelled through Sustrans as part of measures to encourage walking and cycling.

Throughout the UK Sustrans is “behind the award winning National Cycle Network, Safe Routes to Schools, Bike It, TravelSmart, Active Travel and Liveable Neighbourhoods, all projects that are changing our world one mile at a time”.

The new address is Glenorchy House, 20 Union St, Edinburgh, EH1 3LR. Telephone number remains the same – 0131 539 8122.

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, holidays, paths, ride, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Save Meadowbank (Velodrome)

Posted by chdot on May 19, 2007

racing at Meadowbank Velodrome
Photo CCGD

The Save Meadowbank Campaign (SMC) was formed in February 2007 by “concerned local residents and sports groups” to try to prevent the demolition of the stadium (used in two Commonwealth Games) and its replacement by housing and a ‘less suitable’ sports complex at Sighthill. (The Council is seeking comments – reply by the 24th of May).

The SMC has posted a report drawing attention to a letter in the Evening News on the future of the Velodrome at Meadowbank.

As letter writer Peter Tuck says – “its only fault is that it does not have a roof.” Councils in Edinburgh have proposed roofing the cycle racing track several times. Detailed plans have been drawn up and shelved.

Medal winner and record breaker Chris Hoy learned his ‘trade’ on the boards at Meadowbank. It seems likely that he would still be based in the City if Edinburgh had had an all-weather track. He now does most of his training in Manchester. The Manchester Velodrome isn’t just for elite athletes – “we provide 1 hour track sessions for beginners with all equipment included at reduced rates for School, college and university student groups” – it’s heavily booked. It’s not even just for cycling – “facilities include fully Sprung Sports Courts For Basketball, Netball and Badminton”.

Chris’ father David told the Evening News this week that they are both aware of the value of the help and encouragement given by people at Meadowbank who introduced Chris to the sport and also the importance of having a facility in the city.

David has been battling in recent years for a future for a velodrome in Edinburgh. Cycling may be a ‘minority sport’ but it is one where Britain (and indeed Scotland) is disproportionately successful. Two years ago he gave an ebullient presentation to City of Edinburgh councillors and officials. At the time he was –

“… trying to raise the profile of our project over that of the Commonwealth Pool. Our main argument is that Sports Facilities seem to be falling between all stools. Sport is a devolved matter. The Scottish Exec have indicated that limited funding is available. The Council have said that they want to build it, sportscotland have allocated some grant money. So everyone has done what is expected but no one is actually doing anything other than saying that the Council is likely to allocate all available funding, £33m, to refurbish the Commonwealth Pool despite there being another 8 swimming pools within the city boundary. They say it will save £100k in maintenance so a pay back time of 330 years! Not the best investment they could make.”

Since then, Glasgow has begun building The National Velodrome as part of its bid for the 2014 Games and plans for any velodrome in Edinburgh seem to have evaporated. There were proposals for a new covered velodrome by the Jack Kane Centre in Craigmillar, but even a revised, roofless, concrete bowl option seems to be going nowhere.

Concerns over the sports infrastructure on London Road and wider issues about local swimming pools, sufficient, and suitable, playing fields and football pitches have erupted in Edinburgh recently. This is a rich city in a rich country facing increasing problems such as obesity and insufficient physical activity generally.

Sport isn’t ‘the answer’ any more than cycling is the sole solution to all transport problems. However it’s clear that there is scope for more ‘joined-up-thinking’ when it comes to ‘active travel’, Safe Routes to School, walking, cycling, sport, leisure and recreational activities and facilities generally.

in Edinburgh there has been a change in the City Council’s administration. New councillor Deidre Brock is set to become “culture and sport leader“. At the Spokes Election Hustings in March she said that she had ‘no funding promises’ but added “we have to get serious about cycling”. Her SNP colleague Councillor Steve Cardownie is keen on sport and is set to reprise a previous role with responsibility for ‘festivals and special events’.

One certain event (though no date has been set yet) is a civic reception “in honour of Chris Hoy’s recent achievements”. This was agreed by the Council in April, after a motion was put forward by (then) Councillor Billy Fitzpatrick. The subject of the velodrome is bound to come up!

March 2008 update | August 2008 update

Posted in bikeweek, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, HEALTH, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, technology, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 3 Comments »

Cycling – GO4IT

Posted by chdot on May 19, 2007

Just released is the summer programme of activities for young people in Edinburgh organised by City of Edinburgh Council.

The highly popular (book early) GO4IT scheme is offering a couple of cycling options.

Bike maintenance & Edinburgh trails.

Mountain Biking (8 courses).

Cost: £7 per course (includes transport, bikes and helmets).

PLUS a whole load of other sports, arts and adventure possibilities.

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

Film Festival Tickets Now on Sale

Posted by chdot on May 18, 2007

Bicycle Film Festival

See any three programmes in the Bicycle Film Festival for £12/£7.50 concessions, or all eight for £24/£16 concessions. Tickets must all be bought at the same time.

88 Lothian Road
Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
Box Office: 0131 228 2688 (12 noon – 9pm)

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, bikeweek, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle racing, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride, Tall Bike, technology, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Bicycle Film Festival Programme Announced

Posted by chdot on May 16, 2007

Programme design – Jenny Leask at Filmhouse. (PDF 1.7Mb)

Details of next month’s Edinburgh Bike Week Film Festival have just been released. It’s bookended by a couple of films about Scottish racing cyclists. The Festival opens with Robert Millar – The High Life a fascinating TV documentary about one of the country’s most enigmatic and mysterious sportsmen. It coincides with the launch of a biography by sports journalist Richard Moore who has just been in Bolivia reporting on Chris Hoy’s adventures.

The final film is The Flying Scotsman, the exciting tale of troubled time trial and track star Graeme Obree. The film premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last year and will finally get its UK release in July. This special preview screening is being sponsored by Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative to mark its 30th birthday.

In between there are films about bicycle gangs in New York, the latest from local filmmaker Chas Nairn, the drama Beijing Bicycle, a Canadian Critical Mass movie, a Jacques Tati comedy, and also the winners of the Wheel to Reel 2007 competition.

Tickets go on sale at the Filmhouse on Friday.

Posted in Bike Week, Bikes on trains, BikeStation, citycycling, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, critical mass, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, holidays, Spokes, tandem, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Free Ride

Posted by chdot on May 16, 2007

Just a month to go to the annual Edinburgh to St. Andrews Cycle Ride (this will be the 27th). It’s FREE to enter if you register before the 1st of June.

After that it’s a fiver. For £11 you can get a lift back for you and your bike. Many people are sponsored to raise money for LEPRA. Ros Kerry of LEPRA says – “we’ll hopefully exceed the 2006 figure of 800. It has increased yearly in my 14 years with the ride.”

It’s 67 miles which is a couple of hours for some people – OK a bit longer, but some cycle back to Edinburgh and arrive before others have reached the Fife coast! For most people it’s a great day out – ice cream at the top of the notorious Cleish Hill. Lunch in Kinross, Afternoon Tea in Freuchie. Slackers can get a train back from Ladybank.

If the date doesn’t suit or you want to create your own ‘Tour of Fife’, check the Kingdom Of Fife Cycleways site. There are a few suggested routes and a range of maps can be ordered from the site (some free).

General Haymarket to Queensferry route – not St. Andrews Ride one.

Posted in Bike Week, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, Maps, paths, ride, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »