Archive for April, 2009

Not Seeing Red

Posted by chdot on April 29, 2009


GOOD NEWS. City of Edinburgh Council is due to spend £19m on road repairs in the current financial year. (Evening News story).

According to the News “road chiefs have agreed to focus their efforts on residential streets due to the already “exceptional” level of roadworks in the city centre as a result of tram project.”

This is understandable – there’s rather a lot of digging between Leith and Haymarket at present. Unfortunately it also increases the danger that suburban side streets, that aren’t in a particularly bad way, will get priority over longstanding, outstanding, needs closer to the centre where cycle use is high and provision is (literally) patchy.

The Council still can’t make its mind up over whether or not to use red surfacing in the ‘sensitive’ World Heritage area. (A year ago it seemed that this had been resolved when a brand new red Advance Stop Line appeared in Heriot Row – but it was some sort of ‘mistake’.)

Meanwhile in areas where there is no problem of principle, there seems to be no mechanism for doing regular, basic, maintenance of cycle lanes and ASLs – both the red surfacing and white bicycle logo and lane markings.

Some Council officials claim it’s a matter of ‘resources’ – but it’s clear that’s it’s more to do with priorities. In spite of Council policies that aim to encourage walking and cycling, it seems that the basics of marking on-road cycle lanes are too difficult to deal with.

Well maintained cycle lanes (e.g. painting the markings before they fade to invisibility) would indicate that the Council takes the encouraging of cycling (and the safety of cyclists) seriously.

The photo shows a newly surfaced section of Marchmont Road designed to increase the safety of pedestrians using the Zebra Crossing. The vibrant red section of cycle lane is most welcome – but it serves to show how shabby the rest of the lanes are (see video).

At a recent Cycle Forum (where representatives of local cycling organisations meet council officials) it was pointed out that the Clarence hotline (Freephone 0800 23 23 23 was the place to report problems. Small ones, such as missing white markings, are apparently likely to get fixed quite quickly. Seeing red may take longer…

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Safe Routes to School, Safety | 11 Comments »

2,000,000 Views and a New Web Site Too

Posted by chdot on April 26, 2009


A week ago Danny MacAskill was a name known to his friends, family, some customers in Macdonald’s Cycle Centre (where he used to work), a few of the people who have seen him working with The Clan Team and those in the BMX/skate/Trials Bike scene (mainly in Edinburgh).

Now due to the Internet (YouTube in particular) – and the filming and editing skills of flatmate Dave Sowerby – he is known to millions around the world.

Two million hits in a week is far from common. Danny is still coming to terms with this unexpected ‘fame’. One small result is his own web site and also a few interviews and intriguing offers of work.

As he says in his first blog entries –

“What a week!

“The last few days have been a blur!

“The response I’ve had to the video has been amazing!

“I never expected to get anywhere near the reaction it has. I hoped that other riders would like the video, and maybe a few riders outside trials, but when people started contacting me about interviews for TV and things it was crazy.

“I didn’t expect to get my own site and it’s pretty weird feeling, but thought it would be a good place to put news and new videos.

“I can’t say thanks enough to all the people who have commented on the video or contacted me, it’s definitely motivated me to push my riding and videos even more.”

Posted in Art, citycycling, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safety | 1 Comment »

No Tram for Roseburn Corridor

Posted by chdot on April 24, 2009

City of Edinburgh Council’s Head of City Development, Dave Anderson, confirmed on Radio Scotland this morning that Line 1b will not be going ahead ‘for the foreseeable future’.

This controversial route was planned to branch from the tram line currently being built through the city. The spur (the previous plan for a loop to join the Newhaven to Airport line was trunkated some time ago) was due to run from Haymarket to Granton.

This plan to improve public transport to north Edinburgh was controversial as it would have meant that a very well used walking and cycling route would be affected. Due to pressure from Spokes the council agreed to keep a path alongside the tram. This would have been very narrow in places (due to the overbridges) or be diverted away from the fairly flat route.

In addition the idea of taking the tram to the Western General Hospital was rejected as it would have increased journey times for people living or working in the new developments at The Waterfront (largely unbuilt and very much ‘on hold’).

Most of the trees and vegetation along the route would have been removed, completely changing the character of what is known as the Roseburn Corridor – a corridor for wildlife (notably badgers) as well as non-motorised humans.

Officially Line 1b is shelved rather than cancelled, but Dave Anderson indicated that any future development of a tram system would be more likely to be Tramline 3 linking the city centre with King’s Buildings and the Royal Infirmary. This could sensibly be extended to Queen Margaret University in East Lothian and into Midlothian (possibly along the former railway line to Loanhead), but such developments are now many years away.

Perhaps today’s news will allow some serious discussions about a sensible and viable ‘sustainable’ transport future for Edinburgh involving walking, cycling and public transport – buses (Edinburgh still has one of the best bus services in the UK), trams and rail. Re-opening the South Sub would cost significantly less than Tramline 3 and could be part of much better rail system in the East of Scotland.

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Big Fun on Saturday

Posted by chdot on April 23, 2009



Edinburgh Falcon‘s cycle speedway base at Redbraes Park is hosting a Big Bike Family Fun Day on Saturday (25th) between 11.30 and 3.00.

As well as the opportunity to try cycle speedway there will be a range of activities to watch and do. (More details)

In addition there will be a free, basic, Dr. Bike checkup.

The event has been organised by the Citadel Youth Centre in Leith. 

Plan a route using the edinburgh.cyclestreets journey planner or meet at the Citadel at 11.15 for an organised ‘walk to the park’

UPDATE: Watch the video of the fun

Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, citycycling, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, ride, walking | Leave a Comment »

Government Cycle Policy Published

Posted by chdot on April 23, 2009


The new “National Cycle Policy Framework” has been published.

Our vision is that all cities, towns, villages and rural areas will be bicycle friendly. Cycling will be a normal way to get about, especially for short trips. Next to walking, cycling will be the most popular means of getting to school, both for primary and secondary school. Our universities and colleges will be bustling with bicycles. Business men and women will see the bicycle as the best way to travel for part or all of their daily commute. Shopping by bike will be as normal as it is in many of the Northern European cycling friendly countries. The bicycle will be the transport mode of choice for all ages. We will have a healthier and happier population with consequent benefits on the health service. We will all gain economically as cycling helps in easing congestion and providing us with a fitter and more alert work force.

A culture of cycling will have developed in Ireland to the extent that by 2020, 10% of all trips will be by bike.

Yes that’s right it’s “Ireland’s First National Cycle Policy Framework” (PDF) and most impressive it is too with lots of joined-up-thinking evident. Whoever wrote it clearly did their homework. The Bibliography contains a long list of publications from countries and cities across northern Europe (including the DfT, Cycling England and the Mayor of London’s office). Surprisingly there are no references to North America where there are significant pockets of ‘good practice’ in places like Portland.

It’s not merely aspirational or a wish list. Of course it remains to be seen how much will be achieved in the current economic climate which is (perhaps) affecting this (former) ‘Celtic Tiger’ even more than the UK. However, crucially, the Executive Summary contains the following statement-

Cost benefit analyses (CBA) attest to the fact that investments in cycling outweigh the costs to a far greater extent than investment in other modes.

The next sentence is “For example, Benefit / Cost ratios of 7.4 have been shown for cycling training programmes in the UK (SQW, May 2007).” (This was a report to Cycling England).

Not surprising the new policy document contains ambitious plans for cycle training “There needs to be a mandatory national cycling proficiency programme for all school children in Irish schools starting at primary level and continuing in a graduated manner through to secondary level. This programme should prioritise practical on-road skills. A similar approved national curriculum for adult cyclists could also be developed, based for example, on the UK “Bikeability” programme.”

Of course Ireland is a long way behind the UK when it comes to cycling policies and provisions – just as the UK is mostly years behind much of Europe.

In Scotland the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS) process is underway. (You may have had your say last year). The Consultative Draft Action Plan was due to be published in February 2009 with the Final Cycling Action Plan for Scotland intended to be published in May 2009. The first date has slipped, so presumably has the second.

Clearly it will be an important document, there was a lot of genuine consultation with helpful input from a lot of individuals and organisations. Whether it becomes (or even influences) Scottish Government policies only time will tell.

Cycling issues in the Scottish Government are dealt with under Transport but politicians still generally see cycling as a minor/minority issue often regarded as ‘leisure’ or perhaps ‘tourism’. In spite of the SNP Government’s intentions to see better cross-departmental working it seems that those concerned with (for instance) education and health are happy that cycling is in Transport and Transport is more interested in major infrastructure projects which tend to marginalise cycling (in both policy and financial terms).

The real responsibility for action is largely devolved to local authorities. Cycling Scotland publishes a review every three years. Edinburgh did reasonable well in the 2008 National Assessment report.

Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, HEALTH, Maps, paths, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Sustrans, walking | 2 Comments »

Video Views Reach 1m

Posted by chdot on April 23, 2009

great video shot by Dave Sowerby The

Photo tdave

Edinburgh’s star street rider Danny MacAskill is not only highly skilled he is now ‘world famous’.

Overnight the great video shot by Dave Sowerby received its millionth hit (9 a.m. tally – 1,138,271 views).

That other Scottish sensation Susan Boyle is getting more viewers – but she has had the benefit of appearing on a mainstream UK tv show and the front pages of the tabloids for the past week!

Has Max Clifford signed up Danny and Dave yet?

Will cycling skills become part of the anti-obesity/fitness ‘agenda’?

Posted in Art, Bicycle Film Festival, citycycling, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling on TV, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Physical Activity and Health, Safety, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »

Single Speed Sports

Posted by chdot on April 22, 2009

Photo sindändùne

Yesterday a man on a bicycle with one gear (in Edinburgh) was an Internet sensation – he even featured on BBC Scotland radio and tv news programmes.

It was just the latest example of a world wide return to a certain simplicity – bikes with one gear.

In the 20th century such machines were often referred to as having “no gears”. This was to contrast them with bikes with (usually) a 3 speed hub – most made in Nottingham by Sturmey Archer.

After the Second World War derailleur gears gradually took over as the normal method of efficiently transferring leg power to road speed.

In the 1970s and 80s 10 gears was the norm, usually in the form of a ‘ten speed racer’. Since then the ‘mountain bike’ has become the mass consumed machine.

The most significant innovation of the MTB boom is probably the widespread use of the triple chainset (the three chainrings by the right foot pedal).

The crucial component is the smallest ring which gives the lowest gears – making climbing hills easier whether that’s the Pentlands or The Mound.

15 gears soon became 18 with 21, 24 and 27 speeds becoming more ‘desirable’. Largely a triumph of marketing. More gears doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Having a bike with only one gear was once the only option, (think penny farthing), then normal for economy reasons – gears were expensive. Now singlespeeds have become something of a street fashion.

This has generally been a spin off from the cycle courier scene.  (This development is not always welcomed by ‘real’ bicycle messengers and the term fakenger has been coined!) If you earn a precarious living speeding packages across congested city centres, breakdowns can be costly.

Hence a move to minimalism – one gear, fewer moving/breakable parts. In the UK it is a legal requirement for a bicycle to have a brake on each wheel. On the rear wheel this can be a fixed wheel (the rider’s legs, exerting backward pressure, providing the braking), so a brake mechanism, lever and cables can be removed, adding simplicity and reducing weight.

Another advantage of bikes with a single chainring and sprocket is that (providing the wheel is pulled back to tension the chain properly) the chain doesn’t come off.

Single/fixed riding is particularly common in flatish cities like New York, Boston and London but it’s a growing niche in Edinburgh – there’s even a web site and the Edinburgh Bike Co-op web site has a page of info on hows and whys – plus details of readymade bikes and fancy components for those toying with the idea of a new craze or lifestyle change.

But its not just YouTube star Danny MacAskill who is skilled at riding a bike with one gear. (Sir) Chris Hoy has won many races with just one (fixed) gear on velodromes around the world. Like many children he started riding a bike with only one gear. His (very) early racing career was as a BMX racer. 

Another established (and just hanging on) track sport is Cycle Speedway. Edinburgh has one remaining track at Redbraes (video) where the Edinburgh Falcons train and race (new members welcome – bicycles provided).

Bike Polo has been around for over 100 years though it’s not known if it has ever reached Edinburgh in an organised way.

Bicycle Soccer is even less established as a world class sport. There are practitioners in America but it seems to be better established in Japan (video – note the specially positioned saddles).

In addition some people race mountain bikes with only one gear! The Singlespeed World Championships were held in Scotland two years ago.

Bikes can be fun with any number of gears. Some skills, and successes, take practice. Rumour has it that a skatepark is finally going to be built in Edinburgh (Saughton Park). In the meantime practice on street corners, MeadowbankRedbraes or indoors at transgression park.

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, Chris Hoy, citycycling, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, Meadowbank Velodrome, ride, Safety, technology | 1 Comment »

Edinburgh Bike Video Runaway Success

Posted by chdot on April 20, 2009

Danny MacAskill is well known for his extreme bike handling skills. His creative approach to using Edinburgh’s urban assets is striking.

It’s easy to find videos of his trick riding on the web. Now there is a new one shot in recent months by Dave Sowerby.

As a rider himself (some history) he is in tune with what Danny is likely to do – something which is clear in the consistently impressive framing and following of the inspiring action.

The duo are no longer a local curiousity with a small cult following. The latest video on YouTube has had around 170,000 hits in its first day – being beaten by Miss California, The Black Eyed Peas and not much else!

UPDATE: Overnight the count seems to have jumped to almost 300k – can this be true?!

UPDATE 2: another 24 hours and the counter says 687,287.

Posted in Cycling News | 2 Comments »

It’s Open!!

Posted by chdot on April 7, 2009

It’s more than a year since Rodney Street Tunnel was strengthened and ‘finished’. Now the path has been laid and lighting fixed.

In addition a new surface has been laid on the steep ramp up to Scotland Street.

One of the first users works in Henderson Row and is happy to use the tunnel even though it makes his journey slightly longer – “so much more peaceful than navigating the Canonmills junction”.

Some local people were worried that the tunnel would become ‘a hangout for undesirables’ – (they probably didn’t mean cyclists…). More likely to be filled with a flow of New Town residents walking to Tesco instead of driving (perhaps).

OLD photoVideo | New photos | Route on CycleStreets

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, Maps, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School, Spokes, TryCycling, walking | 1 Comment »