Archive for October, 2009

Government Encourages Cycling to Work

Posted by chdot on October 28, 2009

cycle to work
The Department of Transport (DfT), alongside the NHS  Change4life initiative, has publicly launched the Cycle to Work Guarantee.

The idea is to encourage employers to pledge to provide the measures that many people expect before they are willing to cycle to work such as showers and secure cycle storage. In addition the Cycle to Work Guarantee web site encourages employers to offer bike maintenance and also suggests “inspiring” more people to cycle.

Many large employers (including government departments and NHS trusts) have already signed up. In addition it has been confirmed that the popular/successful “cycle to work” scheme will continue.

Of course due to devolution the above is for England. Scotland does things differently. With things like the smoking ban and alcohol restrictions, Scotland has policies that the Westminster government has adopted/adapted later.

On cycling south of the border is leading the way. Cycling Demonstration Towns were pioneered before Scotland’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places scheme (which isn’t just about cycling). Cycling England is better resourced than Cycling Scotland (though their remits are different).

Getting more people to cycle to work is clearly a good thing, but getting children cycling is probably more important. In England there are a variety of initiatives. In Edinburgh the ‘basic idea’ of getting children to do the Scottish Cycle Training Scheme seems remarkably difficult. A small number of schools (notable Sciennes and South Morningside) make sure all P6/7 children take part in school time. Some others offer it as an after school activity.

It is ten years since the Road Danger Reduction Forum wrote “The Forum believes that high quality cyclist training for children is essential to achieve the aims of the Integrated Transport Strategy.

Good training provides children with the skills required to be responsible, safe road users not only as children but possibly as future drivers. It is also essential in order to promote and encourage more cycling, particularly through giving parents the confidence to allow their children to cycle.”

Ten years later the idea of Cycle Training leading to better drivers is still valid, but the need for training to be better (adult) cyclists is also strong. Unfortunately not enough children are being trained at primary school age.

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, TryCycling | 1 Comment »

Try Speedway on Sunday

Posted by chdot on October 26, 2009

Robert Bandoszs

Photo of new Falcons signing 19 year-old Polish rider
Robert Bandosz

Scotland’s only cycle speedway team Edinburgh Falcons is staging an open session at the Redbraes Park track (Broughton Road by the Powderhall refuse depot MAP) on Sunday (1st November).

The event is “primarily aimed at attracting new riders to Cycle Speedway”. Registration from 12:30pm with events starting at 1pm.

In recent years the Falcons have raced in a UK league, but for the 2010 season the plan is to concentrate on the local league and developing more young riders – including some who turned up to the fun event earlier this year.

The session is open to all ages and all equipment will be supplied. Fast, furious and fun – if you don’t fancy racing it’s great to watch.

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Core Path Network, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, paths, Physical Activity and Health, ride | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Professor Criticises Council Practices

Posted by chdot on October 25, 2009

Photo blackpuddinonnabike

Writing in today’s Sunday Herald, Edinburgh University professor Michael S Northcott mentions the ‘cycle facility’ near his office.

“..when the new Missoni Hotel was opened earlier this year the cycle lane was ditched in favour of a publicly provided parking bay for the hotel and two lanes for motorists.”

It’s been like this since May. After lots of protests by locals and cyclists, the Council ‘promised’ to do something, that was in June.

Michael Northcott’s article says a few other things about the environment in Edinburgh.

“..the city council continues to favour speeding cars over slow pedestrians. At many junctions pedestrians have to walk hundreds of feet corralled by metal cages to designated crossing points away from their direction of travel.”

But it’s not just Edinburgh that’s mentioned in the Sunday Herald’s “Essay of the Week” which highlights Governments’ and other organisations’ confusion and hypocrisy over Climate Change and economic growth.

“The Scottish Government recently built one of the world’s most expensive pieces of motorway – an extension to the M74 – against strong local opposition, through a housing scheme to the east of Glasgow. The road raises noise and pollution for local residents to unhealthy levels and significantly reduces the quality of their environment. But it enables drivers who don’t live in the area to traverse it at 70mph on yet another fast motorway through the environs of Glasgow, a city already strewn with urban motorways.”

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 1 Comment »

CycleStreets Gets Better

Posted by chdot on October 12, 2009

cyclestreets features

CycleStreets is the UK’s best cycle journey planner. It’s probably the only one that covers the whole of Great Britain and has a good understanding of where the cycle paths are. The underlying mapping is from Open Street Map which is the work of hundreds of volunteers (YOU could be one too).

CycleStreets originated in Cambridge where two members of the Cambridge Cycle Campaign created a cycle journey planner for the city using their computing skills and the dedicated mapping of a small group of residents. It seemed like a good idea to try to do the same for Edinburgh. A small amount of money was granted by the Scottish Government.

This helped to create and led to creation of a service that now has

One significant difference between Cambridge and Edinburgh is that Cambridge is mostly flat. (Edinburgh is actually a lot flatter than many non-cyclists realise – at least for many east/west journeys.) Initially, estimated journeys times were the same for both directions of a route. So The Mound to Canonmills ride was said to take the same time as the return trip!

Now, after many months of hard work, CycleStreets can estimate the expected time of journeys in any direction – try it for yourself. Not only does the CycleStreets software understand gradients – and estimate fairly accurate journey times – it now produces gradient profiles for all suggested versions of the same journey – so you can easily see if the “quietest” route is also the hilliest.

Dublin Street profile


Enjoy! (and feedback if the proposed routes seem ‘strange’)

You can also vote for CycleStreets – and help it get some more development money.

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Maps, ride, Safe Routes to School | 2 Comments »


Posted by chdot on October 12, 2009


Still from video
of video

A few days in London confirm that cycling is ‘hot’. Cycle commuting is rampant – multi-colours of Bromptons, monotones of yellow jackets, obsessions of speed.

Many examples of fashion on wheels – one gear wonders (a lot of London is fairly flat), and plenty of retro/traditional styling – from ‘Europe’ or England. In truth, some of this is concentrated in trendy/studenty parts of the city.

Transport for London has an overview of Public Transport, the Congestion Charge and also cycling. With millions of people travelling daily it’s a big job and comes with a relatively big budget. The Cycling section of the tfl site is useful. You can order any (or all) of the 14 free cycle maps.

The ‘next big things’ are Cycle Hire – a variation on the Paris Vélib’ – and the Superhighway. Both due to arrive next summer.

Edinburgh is thinking about its own Vélib’ variation and also plans to spend £150k on a “corridor”.

The London Superhighway plan is reasonably ambitious, though not without its critics (LCC demands Cycle Super-highways, not superficial highways). It’s not going to turn London into Copenhagen any time soon.

The most obvious feature is that the lanes will be BLUE. and there is a ‘promise’ for a minimum width of 1 1/2 metres. In addition the blue won’t stop at junctions and the surface is planned to be “smooth” with some remedial actions before the new tarmac is laid.

tfl regards this as revolutionary and has good reason to encourage cycling – basically it’s cheap. It keeps people out of their cars, reducing congestion and making bus services more reliable. It also reduces pressure on the tube.

In Edinburgh ‘transport’ is mostly the responsibility of the Council. At present much thought and money is being spent on trying to get the Tram on track. Unfortunately too many councillors and officials seem agree with the the new RAC Boss that cycling is a ‘niche mode of travel’ (which should therefore be ignored). Hard to imagine an Edinburgh councillor replacing Boris on a banner like this.

Perhaps when the tram is finished things will be different – but the planning needs to be started sooner. Perhaps Superhighway Blue could be used on Marchmont Road to replace Fading Red.

Edinburgh has a wide network of on and off-street cycle facilities. Throughout the Tram works cycling remains an effective way of getting around the city, offering easy parking irrespective of roadworks.” (From

Posted in Active Travel, bike shops, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, technology, Trams, walking | Leave a Comment »

“Less Traffic Equals Smarter Working”

Posted by chdot on October 7, 2009

less traffic
Sustainable Transport campaigners Transform Scotland today issued a new briefing paper – Less Traffic: How Scotland would benefit from Road Traffic Reduction.

The 8 page document (“supported by BT Scotland”) mentions cycling twelve times! It contains solid arguments for traffic reduction with Public Transport and car sharing (and cycling) as key elements. But it’s not just ‘save the planet’ rhetoric.

There’s a clear case in conventional economic terms – “It is a myth that economic growth must result in increased travel, and that measures to reduce traffic would therefore undermine economic development”.

Paul Tetlaw, Chair of Transform Scotland, said:  “Road traffic reduction is the most vital component of a sustainable transport strategy. Without policies, programmes and projects to cut traffic levels, there is little or no prospect of achieving crucial targets for reducing climate change emissions or creating a productive and just society.

“Transform Scotland is delighted to be working with organisations such as BT Scotland to evidence the vast financial and time savings offered by interventions such conferencing – audio, video and teleprescencing. Not only do these enable organisations from all sectors to reduce their need to travel, but they also generate massive productivity benefits.

“The most efficient use of the road network is through increasing car occupancy. Car sharing and car clubs have proven to be very successful at achieving an increase in car occupancy both here in Scotland as well as throughout Europe. And at the same time as increasing occupancy, they have also reduced car usage. If we increased car occupancy by 50%, we would see one third less traffic on the roads.

In support of this Transform quotes “A small rise in car occupancy can have a significant impact – raising occupancy by just 10% (to an average of 1.74) would reduce traffic on our roads by 9%. And an occupancy increase of 50% would result in a 33% drop in traffic”. Source.

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Meet the Cycling Author

Posted by chdot on October 4, 2009

Chris Hoy book

Edinburgh sports journalist and bike book writer Richard Moore will be live at the Portobello Book Festival on Saturday.

The fact that he raced himself (including being in Scotland’s 1998 Commonwealth Games team) has greatly helped him with insights into the top riders he has written about.

His first book was about the great, enigmatic, Scottish, Tour de France stage winner Robert Millar. In Search of Robert Millar was far from authorised, Robert could reasonably be described as a recluse – though he did answer some of Richard’s e-mailed questions. The result won Best Biography in the 2008 British Sports Book Awards.

His second book was about another top level Scottish racer, with a much higher public profile. Heroes, Villains and Velodromes: Chris Hoy and Britain’s Track Cycling Revolution chronicled the story of a BMX boy’s development into a medal winning trackman. It was published in 2008, and was very much a ‘story in progress’ and included the eye witnessed report of Chris’ trip to Bolivia in pursuit of the 1Km record.

Entertaining new video (made from stills) has recently appeared on the web.

Clearly Chris liked the book enough to tell his tales to Richard for a brand new book. (Words by Chris, tidying up by Richard.)

Officially published on the 15th Chris Hoy: the Autobiography is expected to be available at Richard’s free talk in Portobello Library (3.00 – 4.30 Sat. 10th Oct). Tickets available in advance from the Library (max. 2 per person).

Posted in Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, cycle racing, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, Edinburgh, Meadowbank Velodrome, Physical Activity and Health, ride | 1 Comment »

Learn to Fix Your Bike

Posted by chdot on October 2, 2009

ebc bike maintenance
Edinburgh’s largest cycle shop, (and one of the UK’s biggest bike businesses), has released a list of dates right up to next March for its highly popular maintenance classes.

Classes include “Foundation Course in Cycle Maintenance” (£27.47 for a half day) with an all day “intensive” version (£47.96 including lunch!). There is a women only version too.

The largest number of courses are available in Edinburgh, but they are also offered in Aberdeen, Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds. In addition EBC could “turn up at your club, school, workplace, corporate entertainment centre, or wherever with tools and workstands and teach you cycle maintenance there” – all for a reasonable £35 an hour.


Posted in bike shops, citycycling, commuting, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Physical Activity and Health | Leave a Comment »

Cyclehoop Comes to Edinburgh

Posted by chdot on October 1, 2009


Photo Anthony Lau

Award winning simple cycle parking has arrived in Edinburgh.

The Cyclehoop is a simple but stylish way to provide secure parking for two bikes. It can be fixed to poles commonly seen on most streets for holding (car) parking/waiting/loading information.

They are often used for bike parking already. Cyclehoops demonstrate that bike parking is encouraged, but more importantly make it much less likely that bikes will swivel and fall on the pavement or roadway.

Two have been fixed in West Nicholson Street as part of a trial. Hoops are are available in a range of eye-catching colours – but City of Edinburgh Council will probably stick to black!

London based designer Anthony Lau trained as an architect.

Posted in Active Travel, Art, bike security theft, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, technology, walking | 2 Comments »