(Part of) Edinburgh to be Travel Demonstration Community?

Posted by chdot on March 17, 2008

Members of Bingham Bicycle Club about to enter East Lothian

Today the Scottish Government announced some details for “Scotland’s local authorities to help create a series of ‘sustainable travel demonstration communities’ across the country”. (In part a response to England’s Cycling Demonstration Towns.)

The topic was the subject of a seminar in Edinburgh in December. City of Edinburgh Council was represented – as were various Edinburgh based organisations with an interest in ‘sustainable transport’. The ‘Scottish Demo Town’ idea was announced a year before – in the National Transport Strategy.

There have been rumours that cities wouldn’t be eligible because they are too big. But all (32) Scottish local authorities have been sent details and asked to consider areas/communities with populations up to 100,000. One place that might be chosen is Inverness (a city since 2001) with about half that number of people – and already involved in various cycle/sustainable transport initiatives.

For Edinburgh it would mean finding an area containing less than a fifth of its population. It could be the city centre which already has the highest concentration of cycling. However the aim of this initiative is that “communities would be a role model for others to follow, showcasing the very best methods available to encourage residents to use more environmentally-friendly forms of transport.”

It might be better to look to the east of the city where there is already a reasonable network of walk/cycle paths – particularly the Innocent Path – and other paths gradually being improved. A suitable TDC could include some (or all of) Leith, Portobello, Craigmillar, Duddingston, Bingham.

The whole area is relatively flat (east of Arthur’s Seat!) and includes parts that are being rebuilt or about to get significant new development – Brunstane/Newcraighall, Craigmillar/Greendykes, Lochend, Leith Docks.

The Scottish Government press release talks as though all the work will be done by local councils, but for this to really work in a place like Edinburgh (small towns will have a more established sense of community and travel to work areas) it’s probably necessary to involve existing local groups. These could be ‘interest’ groups such as Greener Leith, PEDAL (Portobello) and Craigmillar Cycles as well as neighbourhood groups and Community Councils.

The Scottish Government is looking for “innovative ideas” (these are just a few of those suggested in the press release).

  • Organised cycling and walking trips
  • More pedestrian/cycle/walking only areas
  • Improved conditions for walking, footpaths cleared of obstacles; better managed and maintained streets
  • Improvement of green space
  • Better use of public spaces to increase opportunities for recreational physical activity
  • Free bus and train tickets encouraging residents to give it a try
  • Maps explaining how to walk or cycle to a local shop, or even something as simple as a timetable for their nearest bus stop
  • School and work place travel plans

Quite a lot of possibilities – but there’s only £15m available over 3 years and only half a dozen places likely to be chosen. Edinburgh will need (and want) to make a good case.

This part of Edinburgh also joins both East Lothian and Midlothian. The new Queen Margaret University is just yards away from the border. Shawfair (the new community due to built with the involvement of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils) is close by. Perhaps SEStran will take an interest in, and help with, the idea of Travel Demonstration Communities too.

Colin Howden, Director of TRANSform Scotland is supportive of this new initiative:

“This will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase how small-scale local transport projects can get people to switch to sustainable transport. The English scheme has proved very successful. Given the additional funding available in the Scottish scheme, there is no reason why this shouldn’t deliver even better results.

“If Scotland is to achieve its ambitious climate change emission targets then the transport sector is going to have to play a large part. The sustainable travel towns will provide examples of how to bring about reductions in carbon emissions.

“We hope that many local authorities around Scotland will bring forward bids. It’s important that we see a range of towns in both urban and rural areas take forward sustainable travel towns.”

3 Responses to “(Part of) Edinburgh to be Travel Demonstration Community?”

  1. It’s great news that this has been announced at last (just before the Spokes public meeting on Weds 19th where the Scot Govt have to speak about what they are doing!) It is possibly slightly disingenuous for the govt press release to give the impression this is new money, as it almost certainly comes out of the existing budget of the Scottish Govt’s Sustainable Transport Team (that is what was expected). If it were to be new money that really would be good news!!

    One excellent aspect of the announcement is that it is ‘matched funding.’ That presumably means that any council wishing to participate will have to put in an (equal?) amount. For one thing, that will limit the scheme to councils that are genuinely enthusiastic, so won’t waste the money. Secondly, it means that the total sum available to be spent could be “up to” £30m (over 3 years) rather than “up to” £15m.

  2. […] (Part of) Edinburgh to be Travel Demonstration Community? […]

  3. jacquiephelan said

    Keeping fingers crossed from across the waves…want to bring back a report to our own localities (one of which is called Inverness, and only about six people there ride bikes..)
    Cheers to the guid people of Spokes, ChangingPace, chdot, etc. &c
    (From over there…)

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