Archive for October, 2007

Healthy Cycling in Midlothian

Posted by chdot on October 30, 2007

A half day seminar to help encourage the development of cycling throughout Midlothian, On the Right Track, is being organised by HELPP (the Midlothian Healthy Living Partnership Project), in partnership with Cycling Scotland. It will be held on Friday 9th November in the Lesser Hall at Penicuik Town Hall (33 High Street – map) from 10am to 2pm. It “aims to encourage partnership working to increase the health and wellbeing of lapsed or novice cyclists and to raise awareness of local cycle networks.”

HELPP Development Worker, Sandra King, says, “we are bringing together local workers from the local authority, health and voluntary sector with an interest in promoting cycling in Midlothian. We have previously organised Cycle Training through Cycle Scotland and offered a Cycle Family Picnic during Bike Week (Midlothian Advertiser report) and are keen to take this work forward. We are using a participatory appraisal approach to ensure everyone has their say and can contribute their ideas. We are keen to strengthen the links between different agencies to pull together resources, knowledge and enthusiasm.”

The event is open to anyone wanting to encourage cycling in Midlothian. Flyer and application form.

Midlothian has it’s own Bicycle Recycling Project based at the Midlothian Advice & Resource Centre (MARC). It’s even possible to win a refurbished bike in a radio phone-in competition.

Posted in Bike Week, bikeweek, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, Midlothian, paths, recycling, ride, Sustrans, walking, What the papers say | 1 Comment »

SNP Students Call For Velib Scheme in Edinburgh

Posted by chdot on October 27, 2007

Velib in Paris
Photo © Fr@nçois Lafite

A motion due to be debated at the SNP conference tomorrow says:

Conference commends the Mairie de Paris for launching Velib (official web site, BBC story, photos, YouTube video, a user’s report,), a low cost public bicycle scheme similar to those already in existence in other European capital cities such as Barcelona, Berlin and Copenhagen. Conference believes that a pilot scheme could be implemented in our capital city in conjunction with Edinburgh City Council and would further emphasise the SNP Government’s commitment to a greener and healthier Scotland.
Federation of Student Nationalists

Dave du Feu of Spokes has responded:

“As regards the velib scheme, we are all for this, but of course it is likely to work best if people feel that conditions on the roads are suitable. A lot has been done in Edinburgh, which is a good start, but a great deal more on cycle infrastructure would help take things much further.”

When the SNP formed the new Scottish Government in May, Spokes sent a letter to John Swinney MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth) calling on the new Government to continue the financial support given to Sustrans, Cycling Scotland and local councils.

Conservative councillors in Edinburgh have already asked for the scheme to be looked at. Cllr Iain Whyte says, “I envisage
using it once I am in town to get between meetings.” He says the Council has looked at a London scheme which he regards as “inferior” and are now investigating continental ones like Velib and Velov “which I have used in Lyon”.

The Paris Velib scheme’s web site says “the first 30 minutes of every journey are always free of charge”, which would certainly encourage people to use them. First ScotRail is also looking into the possibilities of cycle hire at, or near, some of its stations. Let’s hope the Council is in touch with the train company to make sure the best solution is found.

Posted in bike security theft, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Spokes, Sustrans, technology | 6 Comments »

Consultation on Midlothian Core Paths Plan Ends Today

Posted by chdot on October 26, 2007

Midlothian core paths
Unlike Edinburgh, which is allowing three months (details), Midlothian Council has only allowed a month to comment on its Core Path plans. Officially the last day is today, though there is a mention on the web site of the 28th (Sunday). There will be another 3 month formal consultation period next year.

Midlothian has conveniently carved up its domain into chunks. Each one is a PDF of around 1Mb. So if you have an interest in walk/cycle routes in parts of the county it would be worth a quick look – comments can be sent by e-mail to

Midlothian is not alone in not paying much attention to cross boundary links. Given the number of people who work in Edinburgh but live outside, this is disappointing. Many people would like a convenient (and safe) route into the city from the Dalkeith area. It is therefore a pity that there are no ‘aspirational’ dots in the area north of Dalkeith.

This is particularly surprising as it is the area that used to be known as the South East Wedge where the new settlement of Shawfair is due to be created sometime.

“Boarding the train at Waverley you know you will be home soon, having left the car at home, you can avoid the evening rush hour. Fifteen minutes later you see children racing each other, having fun, on the cycleway near Whitehill Mains as you approach Shawfair Station.” (Source)

That station will be the first new one in Midlothian for many years, built as part of the Waverley Railway Project (due to be completed in 2011). It would be good if a parallel walk/cycle path could be built (Sustrans’ proposals) allowing a relatively flat route to be created. This could connect with the Millerhill to Loanhead route that Sustrans plans for the former railway line which Midlothian acknowledges as a “Candidate Core Path” on map 5 but not map 1. This route is already well used between Loanhead and Roslin over the magnificent Bilston Glen Viaduct.

Midlothian has decided that it “cannot put aspirational routes on the Draft Core Paths Plan unless they will be on the ground within the next two years.” Obviously putting lines on a map that are ‘possible/maybe’ can be counterproductive, but for something as important as the (statutory) Core Path process, perhaps two years is artificially short.

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Midlothian, Shawfair, Spokes, Sustrans | 1 Comment »

Deputation on Trams Today

Posted by chdot on October 25, 2007

Velo + Tram + Train
LRT poster on Strasbourg train, photo Hugh McClintock

2 p.m. UPDATE

After the Spokes deputation (details below), Green councillors tabled an amendment calling on the Council to reaffirm the Local Transport Strategy’s emphasis on improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in connection with the trams. It also asked for cycle carriage to be looked at again.


Campaign group Spokes is sending a deputation to City of Edinburgh Council’s Full council meeting today, to persuade councillors that they need to instruct TIE to take more account of cyclists’ needs on road and allow cycle carriage on the trams.


Spokes is a voluntary organisation which has worked in Edinburgh and the Lothians for 30 years to encourage cycling and press for improved conditions for cyclists.

We have over 1000 members and, through voluntary effort, we promote cycle use in many ways, including our highly-praised cycle maps, path maintenance projects, fostering new initiatives like the Bike Station, and of course our campaigning work.

When the tram was first proposed, we surveyed our members, and found overwhelming support for the tram as long as onroad facilities for cyclists did not suffer and the offroad Roseburn path was maintained.

Accordingly, we have supported the Tram throughout, and we lobbied local and central government forcefully when it was under threat.

From the earliest days we have discussed bike/tram integration with the council, and later with TIE and TEL – including the Roseburn corridor, design of on-road sections, cycle carriage on trams, and cycle parking at stops. We also organised a seminar addressed by Hugh McLintock of Nottingham University, probably Britain’s top expert on tram/cycle integration.

Although our recent dialogue with TIE and TEL has been constructive, today’s deputation to the Council is necessary because some recent decisions contradict the stated aims of the Council in the Local Transport Strategy and in the January 2006 joint Council/TIE Final Tram Design Manual.

We have 3 specific points which we ask the Council to include in its response to the FBC (Final Business Case).

** First, the FBC fails in consideration of wider transport issues. Although it discusses modal shift from car to tram, it omits the potential of cycling to widen the catchment area of tram stops beyond that of walking.

** Second, the FBC does not discuss the impact of the tram and tram lines on city centre streets in terms of congestion and of safety.

Many European cities now *rely* on high levels of cycling to cut congestion. We need measures to keep cycling safe and so to encourage more people to make city centre journeys by bike. Cycle use is growing in Edinburgh: our last survey found bicycles to comprise a remarkable 20% of all northbound vehicles on Lothian Road in the rush hour. Trams must contribute to this growth, not threaten it.

Spokes is so exceptionally concerned about onroad conditions that we are taking the unprecedented step for a voluntary organisation of inviting over a Netherlands tram/bike expert to propose ideas for Princes Street, Leith Walk and elsewhere, even if this has to be paid from the voluntary donations of our members. We are delighted that TIE has agreed to participate in this.

We therefore ask that in its response to the FBC, the council reasserts the followingcommitment from the Local Transport Strategy, about bus and tram schemes (I quote) …

“Conditions for pedestrians and cyclists should be maintained or improved.”

** Third and finally, the Council has a clear aspiration, and I quote from the Council’s own Tram Design Manual, that

“trams should be able to carry bicycles, particularly during off-peak operation.”

Yet we have recently been told by TEL that this will not be done (although it might be considered at some later date).

Perhaps you wonder why fit and healthy cyclists need take bikes on trams? We are not talking about a few stops, but about a cyclist in the east of the city cycling to Leith then using the tram to get to Edinburgh Park or the Airport; or a tourist arriving at the Airport with their bike and using the tram to get to their hotel in central Edinburgh. These mixed mode journeys are vital, are expected by European visitors, and of course also increase tram ridership.

We therefore ask that in your response to the FBC, the council reasserts its above aspiration as an instruction to TIE and TEL, so that Edinburgh leads the way on intermodality in the UK. Specifically, we suggest a one-year trial of off-peak cycle carriage, or, if that cannot be agreed, a one-year trial of weekend operation. It is very important that this starts from day 1, so all aspects of the tram internal design are suitable and tested. If it can be done later, if it can be done in Europe and the US, then it can be done in Edinburgh, and it can be done from day 1!

Finally, in thanking you for your time, I would stress that the Council has a responsibility today beyond just approving the Final business case.

You have a duty to ensure that the FBC meets the needs of all transport users in Edinburgh – pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, as well as bus and tram passengers and operators, and is fully compatible with the Local Transport Strategy.

I hope that my comments from the point of view of cyclists have been useful.

Thank you.

More background information on Spokes site.

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, walking | 2 Comments »

£125m for Cycling in the UK?

Posted by chdot on October 23, 2007

4 £50 lottery finalists
The shortlist has been announced for The People’s £50 Million Lottery Giveaway. Fortunately Sustrans‘ worthy (but not dull) and ambitious (but not unrealistically so) connect2 project is one of the four finalists.

Pledge your support.

It must also be the bookies’ favourite as it’s an international plan available locally to ‘everyone’, whereas the other three are site specific. Whether much needed facilities to encourage walking and cycling should depend on the telephoned votes of TV viewers is of course a different issue.

In England there seems to a real expectation of “a big cash injection … Cycling England wants a minimum of £75m to progress its plans”. (reported in Cycling England has been doing good work with its ‘6 Showpiece Cycling Demonstration Towns‘, proving what can be done with a sensible sum of money (“Cycling England will contribute up to £500,000 per year, per town for three years, matched by equal or greater funding from the local authority and its partners”) spent on new infrastructure and ‘softer’ promotional measures.

The Government in Scotland has been working on plans for a demonstration town for about a year, but is still ‘waiting to see what’s in the spending review’.

Posted in Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, citycycling, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Sustrans, walking | Leave a Comment »

Vandals Take Toll on Counters

Posted by chdot on October 22, 2007

At least two of the recently installed cycle counters have been toppled. Seventeen were paid for with money from SEStran.

Estimating the number of people who cycle is a far from exact science. Most traffic surveys are done on-road. A simple count by Spokes earlier this year proved that significant numbers of people are cycling to work in the centre of town.

More comprehensive data is needed to give a better idea of the number of people cycling on the North Edinburgh Path Network, Union Canal, the former Corstorphine branch between Carrick Knowe Golf Course and Pinkhill (pictured) etc. which might help to get more resources for cycling.

Unfortunately whoever installed the cycle counters (around £50,000 worth) didn’t do a good job, they are rather easy to push over. Another one near Boswall Drive is also out of use. Putting a large lump of metal on the end of a pole in a small hole isn’t sensible.

UPDATE 6.11.07

Thanks for letting me know. These two counters are being fixed this week. If you or anyone on the Cycling Edinburgh network spots any more problems with vandalism affecting the operation of cycle counters, please forward the details to and copy the email to myself.

Many thanks,

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride, TryCycling, walking | 1 Comment »

Trams – Some Cycle Progress

Posted by chdot on October 18, 2007

Evening News Tram date cover
© Evening News


Concern about how the planned re-introduction of trams to Edinburgh will affect cyclists continues. Initially the most contentious issue was over the delightful Roseburn Corridor (former railway line from Haymarket to Ferry Road). IF the tram ‘system’ is extended to the Waterfront a “high quality” parallel walk/cycle route is now “guaranteed”.

SPOKES, the Lothian Cycle Campaign, is contining to press Council owned companies TIE (which is managing the project) and Transport Edinburgh Limited (which will run the trams – as well as Lothian Buses) to improve their plans. Spokes met representatives of both companies this week and had “a positive and constructive meeting”.

Two main issues remain unresolved. 1) carrying bikes on the trams 2) the actually amount of space left on the road for cyclists – notably in Leith Walk and Princes Street. In spite of years of planning, Scottish Parliamentary processes etc., detailed plans for the route are still not available. There are tentative plans for Leith Walk which show that the trams will be in the middle and the buses will use the same lane – though presumably the bus stops will still be on the inside lane!?

TIE seems pleased with the fact that it has ‘found space’ to ‘reserve’ a 1 metre strip – next to the parked cars. Which as any cyclist knows is not a smart idea. Spokes has persuaded TIE to seek a second opinion from a Dutch traffic expert before making final decisions. As Ian Maxwell of Spokes says: “We want to draw on the extensive experience of integrating cycles and trams within historic city centres in the Netherlands. We are therefore inviting a specialist to visit Edinburgh in the next few weeks to help find a solution which makes best use of road space and which will be safe and attractive for cyclists and other road users.”

The Tram Design Manual (p. 35) outlines the Council’s intentions: “Ensure a good relationship of the tram system with other modes of transport, including pedestrians, cyclists, buses, taxis and private vehicles.” In the Appendix (p. 104) It states: “Trams should be able to carry bicycles, particularly during off-peak operation.”

Spokes will be pressing the City Council later this month to ask TIE/TEL to carry out trials of bikes on trams from the opening day (February 25, 2011 according to today’s Evening News) – for example, at weekends. A trial run took place on the Sheffield Supertram last month, and Nottingham and Manchester Councils are considering trials on new lines.

Spokes thinks that Edinburgh should be leading the way in the UK. They point out that First Scotrail recently increased the bicycle carrying capacity (ScotRail bike info) on their North Berwick train service (timetable), and that many tram systems in Europe and America already allow cyclists to take bicycles on off-peak services.

TIE recognises that many tram passengers will use bikes to reach the tram stops outside the city centre, and it will provide plenty of cycle parking spaces at tram stops. Although it’s strange that this is not mentioned in TIE’s business case as people cycling and using the tram could be a significant proportion of the tram line’s business.

Previous story – “Cyclists fear trams will squeeze them off roads”

Meanwhile in San Francisco – “Between our place and the Golden Gate, there are roughly sixteen schools and each of them has hundreds of cars tying up traffic…I decided to hop on a bus partway there, and a bus came along in 20 minutes….thank goodness. Then when the bus got stuck in traffic, I hopt off and pedaled away.”

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Safety, Spokes, technology, Trams, What the papers say | 4 Comments »

“Couldn’t be a Bicyclist in Edinburgh”

Posted by chdot on October 17, 2007

Kirsty Allsopp
Well that’s the verdict of Kirstie Allsopp – live on Channel 4 – after announcing that Edinburgh is this year’s winner of the “Location, Location, Location Best and Worst Places to Live in the UK“.

Her reason – it’s “hilly”. The short film showing some of the highlights of Edinburgh – The Grassmarket, Chambers Street Musuems, Edinburgh College of Art, Morningside etc. managed to miss ALL the cyclists on Edinburgh’s streets!

For a programme that’s very much about ‘quality of life’ it’s a shame cycling didn’t get a mention. Maybe it’ll be taken into account when Edinburgh wins again next year.

Perhaps Kirstie (or at least Phil) will be given a chance to experience a bike tour of the city before then…

STOP PRESS: Kirstie is now working for David Cameron looking into “how buying and selling a home could be made easier” – Observer story. Maybe he’ll teach her how to cycle in cities (with or without a following car).

Posted in ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, paths, Spokes, TryCycling, What the papers say | 2 Comments »

Cycling the Answer to Obesity?

Posted by chdot on October 17, 2007

A significant report into (likely) causes of obesity is published today
as part of the UK Government’s Foresight programme. (Report and background papers.)

“Tackling obesity has striking similarities with tackling climate change. Both need whole societal change with cross governmental action and long term commitment. Many climate change goals would also help prevent obesity, such as measures to reduce traffic congestion, increase cycling or design sustainable communities.” (Extract from summary.)

The related BBC story is headlined “Obesity ‘not individuals’ fault'”.

“Obesity, the authors concluded, was an inevitable consequence of a society in which energy-dense, cheap foods, labour-saving devices, motorised transport and sedentary work were rife.”

“From planning our towns to encourage more physical activity to placing more pressure on mothers to breast feed – believed to slow down infant weight gain – the report highlighted a range of policy options without making any concrete recommendations.”

Which is perhaps a pity. Inevitably there is an emphasis on food and, particularly, the role of the food industry. In short; people eat too much, often the ‘wrong’ sorts of foods, for their lifestyles – which don’t involve enough exercise.

Anyone reading this site will ‘know’ that one real ‘answer’ is riding a bike – to work, school, shops etc., for leisure, pleasure, transport and sport. All the more reason for Edinburgh to make sure that there is Cycle Training for all P6 pupils, more encouragement for cycling as a normal way of getting around (like Copenhagen) and planning to replace the Velodrome.


11.01 Radio 4 News story just mentioned “walking and cycling”

11.20 CTC Press Release “Two generations of planners have designed the UK’s towns and cities around motorised transport, encouraging people into sedentary, car-dependant lifestyles. The report highlighted how encouraging people onto their bikes was an essential part of any strategy to tackle obesity – and that such measures would also help meet our climate change targets.

Campaigns and Policy Manager Roger Geffen said “The Foresight report has added its weight to the bloated library of evidence of the role of cycling in tackling the twin crises of climate change and obesity. It is no longer enough for the Department for Health to tell us all to munch apples while other Departments force us into sedentary, car-dominated lifestyles.”

“With the Department for Health and Department for Transport working out their spending plans for the next three years, it’s the perfect time to see a radical increase in funding for cycling.”

14.00 BBC Radio 4 News reports Gordon Brown saying ‘need to increase fitness; that’s why sport, in schools, is going up from two hours a week to 5 hours a week over the next few years’.

England only? Once again misses the point. There’s more to exercise than ‘sport’ (even if that’s allowed to include dance etc.). It’s more about ‘active lifestyles’ and ‘active travel’. Many young people dislike organised PE/sport so much that this is likely to be counterproductive – even ignoring issues such as resources (more PE teachers?) and ‘balanced’ curricula.

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, paths, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 1 Comment »

Helmet Debate Continues

Posted by chdot on October 17, 2007

Scotland on Sunday ran a story headed “Whose parents will soon be fined?”. It began “CHILD cyclists will be forced to wear helmets under a new law to be introduced this week which aims to cut the tragic toll of youngsters killed or injured while riding bikes.” A few paragraphs later it added “The bill is being presented to MPs on Tuesday as a Ten Minute Rule Bill, giving Bone 10 minutes to argue his case in the House of Commons. If approved, the bill becomes a Private Members Bill, which generally requires government backing to stand any chance of becoming law.”

Which of course is the crucial fact as few Private Member’s Bills become law. It went on to say that “Tory Peter Bone has the backing of the Department of Transport for his new law, The Bicycles (Children’s Safety Helmets) Bill. Officials say they will support the change if, as expected, its latest review confirms that cycle helmets improve road safety.”

It’s hard to say where the “as expected” came from – in July Jim Fitzpatrick, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport, told Mr. Bone:

“The Department is planning to commission a new research project on cyclists’ road safety in the autumn. This will include a new review of cycle helmet effectiveness. The research project as a whole is likely to take three years, but we are aiming to complete the review of cycle helmet effectiveness within two years, so by autumn 2009.” (As reported in

The SoS piece generated a lively response including a post from Colin Clarke who presented a paper at this year’s Velo City cycling conference in Munich – “The case against cycle helmets and legislation” – (extended PDF version).

Report on today’s House of Commons proceedings in BikeBiz.

The bill will receive its second reading on 19th October.


Posted in citycycling, commuting, CTC, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, What the papers say | 3 Comments »