Archive for the ‘Airdrie to Bathgate’ Category

“Welsh Government guarantees cycle route cash”

Posted by chdot on February 2, 2010

“Following two years of campaigning by Sustrans, the Welsh Assembly Government has pledged to dedicate five per cent of its Road Maintenance Grant to the maintenance of cycleways.” BikeBiz

What will John Swinney do?

More info – “Each local authority has £10,000 to improve on-road cycle lanes as part of new funding to repair roads which took a battering from the recent cold snap.”

Discuss on citycyclingedinburgh forum

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Spokes, Sustrans | 1 Comment »

Government Relies on Spokes Statistics

Posted by chdot on August 5, 2009


UPDATE: A civil servant has suggested that the headline should say “Holyrood Relies on Spokes Statistics”. “Cycling in Scotland” is produced by the Scottish Parliament not the Scottish Government. It’s assumed that the report’s author looked for statistics from the SG first. It’s also assumed that the SG relies on the best available statistics. If there are better statistics than those compiled by Spokes, Spokes would be keen to have them.

SPICe, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, has published a concise briefing document titled “Cycling in Scotland”. Many of the statistics quoted have come from Spokes (The Lothian  Cycle Campaign).

Not only does it indicate that Spokes’ surveys of spending on cycling in Scotland are regarded as comprehensive/accurate, it also suggests that no-one in Government is keeping their own tally!

The figures have been compiled for many years by Dave du Feu who has doggedly dealt with Local Authorities – collecting survey answers and compiling the results (and interpreting where necessary). Most Scottish LAs supply information. Getting details from the Government is more difficult.

As “Cycling in Scotland” indicates

Transport Scotland told SPOKES that it was impossible to disentangle the cycle element of trunk road expenditure, but later told Mike Pringle MSP that it amounted to £2m for financial year 2007-2008, so it is assumed that this amount is spent each year on cycle related projects”

This is a footnote from the detailed table produced by Spokes, but its inclusion in this briefing document is significant. As Spokes reports on its own web site “The Spice Research Briefings are intended as impartial documents to inform MSPs and others involved in the work of the Scottish Parliament. They are independent research publications for the entire Parliament, not decided by or controlled by the party which is in government.”

Overall “Cycling in Scotland” is useful background information for MSPs, campaigners and anyone interested in encouraging more people to cycle. Usefully it distinguishes between the two key areas of cycling as they relate to Government policies –

Cycling takes two main forms:

• a form of transport

• a sport, including track and road cycling, mountain biking, BMX, cycle speedway and cyclo-cross

and explains:

This short briefing focuses on cycling as a form of transport. It outlines the legislative and policy framework governing cycling, identifies key organisations and provides cycling related statistics. It goes on to look at sources of funding for cycling projects and the national cycle network.”

This is a useful division and highlights the convention that cycling is either ‘transport’ or ‘sport’. However it is likely that in future a third division will be necessary/desirable.

It is increasingly being recognised that exercise is necessary for good health – physical and mental. There’s a lot of discussion about diet and obesity. Chris Hoy is “Scotland’s first ambassador for mental health“. But money for ‘cycling’ largely comes from ‘transport’ or ‘sport’.

It is quite reasonable to encourage people to cycle to school, shops, work etc. and (as much as possible) record statistics for this, but it probably largely misses the people who cycle for a bit of exercise or to take their kids along a cycle path to the swing park – or just for the fun of cycling!

More importantly the emphasis on ‘transport’ and ‘sport’ perhaps makes it harder to get to people (statistically the majority) who hardly ever cycle – and get the funding to try to encourage them to cycle.

Cycling in Scotland highlights the CAPS (Cycle Action Plan Scotland) process. This is a comprehensive look at ways to increase cycling in Scotland. (YOU can contribute until the 20th of August.) This paragraph outlines some of the intentions

3. For people to have the confidence and the right information to make cycling a realistic choice for some journeys: Provide access to adult and child cycle training and cycle maintenance courses with well trained instructors. Promote the bike-to-work scheme and encourage employers and education providers to become cycle friendly. Produce cycle network maps and an online cycle journey planner.

“Cycling in Scotland” also manages to highlight Spokes’ concerns about funding and future commitment to funding.

Unusually, the CAPS consultation draft was launched without a Scottish Government press release or ministerial statement. Perhaps as a consequence of this, there has been almost no media interest or public comment by stakeholders. However, from what comment there has been it seems that the policy intentions of the consultation draft of CAPS have been welcomed, although concerns have been raised about whether they are backed by sufficient funding. For example Dave du Feu, lead organiser for SPOKES, has stated that “There’s good stuff in the action plan but if they’re not going to spend anything until 2011 – and even then there’s no guarantee that they will – I can’t see it making any difference” (The Herald 2009)

Perhaps the time has come to look beyond ‘transport’ or ‘sport’ for funding. Aren’t ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’ the main responsibilities of the NHS?

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Bathgate (to Airdrie) No More

Posted by chdot on July 28, 2009

Sculpture “Legs” by Doug Cocker

If you’ve never cycled on the old railway route between Bathgate and Airdrie you’ve missed the chance for some Central Scotland moorland solitude – and a few sculptures.

The recreation of an extra Edinburgh to Glasgow rail link is proceeding well. The cyclepath was closed last year but many would-be travellers don’t know this.

Sustrans has now issued a press release clarifying things and suggesting alternative routes.

Cyclists are being reminded that a popular traffic-free route between Airdrie and Bathgate is closed, as an increasing number of people pedal to a dead-end.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has received calls from cyclists attempting to get onto the former 14-mile route, which ran along a disused railway line.

The railway path formed part of the National Cycle Network Route 75 – a cross-Scotland route linking the Clyde Coast with the Firth of Forth – until last October when it closed as part of a £300 million project to reopen the railway.

Katharine Taylor, National Cycle Network Development Manager for Sustrans Scotland, said: “It is great to see more and more people getting out on their bikes. But because this is the first summer since the route between Airdrie and Bathgate closed, it is catching people out – seemingly anyone from day-trippers to experienced cyclists on a long-distance challenge.

“This route was extremely popular so we’d like to remind them once again that it is now blocked off rather than let people make a wasted journey or face a lengthy detour. We are putting up signs in Airdrie and Bathgate to let people know about the closure, but are unable to sign the whole diversion, so advise people to check the alternative routes suggested on our website before setting out.”

Network Rail will construct a new path close to the original Airdrie and Bathgate route, which is scheduled for completion in December 2010.

Sustrans recommends cyclists and walkers use the towpaths of the Union and Forth and Clyde Canals as a cross-Scotland route. The canals are set to become Route 754 of the National Cycle Network.

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Art, Cycling News | 1 Comment »

Cycling Could Boost Rail Use

Posted by chdot on June 10, 2009

Ayr Stranraer Report
Photo of Barrhill Station © AJ Kirkham

A new report, Ayr-Stranraer rail regeneration study, has been
published by Transform Scotland, the “national sustainable transport

Paul Tetlaw, Chair of Transform Scotland, said:  “Ayr-Stranraer is Scotland’s forgotten rail line. It has great potential but is currently greatly under-valued and under-utilised.  The railway has for too long been seen as only serving ferries when it should also be providing a service for local residents, for day-trip visitors and for tourists from overseas. The area requires better connectivity to Glasgow, and the Ayr-Stranraer line has the potential to provide journey times competitive with the car. 

The 96 page report mentions cycling several times – “The study report highlighted the potential for tourism and leisure markets in two particular areas – leisure cycling opportunities around a potential new station in the Dunragit area” (p36) “the route traverses attractive countryside (with three unique stations) and has the potential, through integrated marketing packages, to tap into a significant market for day leisure trips from the Glasgow area to visitor attractions in south Ayrshire and western Galloway – it also offers potential access to leisure walking and cycling markets.” (p40) “businesses can highlight public transport on their website, offer to pick visitors up from the local railway station, provide bikes and maps showing local cycle routes and join VisitScotland’s Walker and Cyclists welcome schemes.” (p56) “The planned extension of the National Cycle Route 73 from Newton Stewart to Cairnryan will pass under the railway near Glenluce Abbey, and will also link to a leisure cycle network in the Machars, and northwards by minor road to Barrhill. The Southern Uplands Way crosses the railway two miles north of Glenluce Abbey.” (p68).

Unfortunately there are no mentions of cycling in either the press release that accompanies the report or in its Executive Summary (p3) – these tend to be the only bits journalists and politicians read – or even the 12 page Summary Report..

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, EducatedTravel, Peak Oil, Sustrans | Leave a Comment »

Spokes Appeals to Swinney

Posted by chdot on June 8, 2009

spokes letter
Veteran (31 years and still going strong) local cycle campaign group Spokes has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, continuing its campaign for increased investment to encourage more people to cycle. (PDF)

It’s not many years since the case would have to be made for the idea of encouraging people to cycle. Now all levels of Government (Westminster, Holyrood and City Chambers) want more people to cycle (more often) but are still failing to understand that the massive increases they say they want will require cash.

As the letter’s author, Dave du Feu, points out – “Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson announced a new government target of 10% of all trips to be by bicycle in the year 2020” and continues “Mr Stevenson and other Ministers refer to comparator European countries such as Denmark which have achieved well over such levels, suggesting that such a target is achievable. However, the difference is that such countries have invested in cycling substantially and consistently over many years, whereas investment in Scotland has hovered around or below 1%, around £3-£4 per head of population, and is now on a significant downward trend. In comparator towns and countries we often find £10-£20 per head, or 5%-10% of transport budgets (even more in some towns).”

(City of Edinburgh Council has recently announced its own target of 15% by 2020 without any indication of sufficient extra investment).

Dave is not just another ‘campaigner’ asking for money for a pet project/vested interest. He has, for many years, collected statistics from all local authorities in Scotland and has a very clear idea of the amount of spending by councils on cycling (not always easy to identify completely accurately) and whether or not that investment is increasing (generally not).

“If the target is to be taken seriously, or even if the government is concerned that cycling investment is falling in contradiction to the aspirations of the SNP manifesto, then the decline in investment must be reversed in the current year, and serious investment towards the target must begin rapidly thereafter.”

Dave’s letter lists suggestions for money required – £5m more in the current financial year, in 2010/11 “a new £20m cycle projects fund, additional to current initiatives, and so roughly doubling existing levels of cycle investment.” As he points out “this proposal, whilst doubling existing cycle investment, would still leave us well below European levels, and certainly not yet on track to meet your 2020 cycle use target.”

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Art, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, ChangingPace, 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, HEALTH, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking | Leave a 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 »

English Stations Encourage Cycling

Posted by chdot on July 11, 2008

Thirty one railway stations in England have been chosen in a pilot “to encourage rail users to use environmentally friendly forms of transport when travelling to and from station”.

“Over the next nine months, extensive passenger research will be carried out at pilot stations to understand how and why passengers choose particular modes of transport to access them.  Specific travel plans will then be developed and implemented during 2009.  Further research to evaluate the effectiveness of the plans will be undertaken in 2011.”

This is a move developed by The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) but was only open to stations in England and Wales. National Express East Coast which runs trains from Edinburgh to London (bikes free, but need to be booked) is involved with the scheme at two of the stations it runs – Durham and Darlington. The latter is one of Cycling England’s Demonstration Towns

Scotland’s main train operator First ScotRail manages most stations (apart from Waverley which is run by Network Rail). ScotRail has regular meetings with representatives of cycling groups and has gradually improved facilities for cyclists since it abolished the £3 charge ten years ago.

Cycle facilities and promotion charity Sustrans pioneered the idea of “Safe Routes to Stations” and produced a valuable eight page guide on what should be done several years ago.

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, bike security theft, Bikes on trains, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Peak Oil, Safe Routes to School, Spokes, Sustrans, walking | Leave a Comment »

Party On Sustrans

Posted by chdot on July 6, 2007

7.7.77 – tomorrow, 30 years on, it’s 7.7.07.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans started life as Cyclebag in the back of a Bristol pub, and has had thirty years of serious progress towards a nationwide network of cyclepaths.

Tomorrow Sustrans in Scotland hosts a free party – OPEN TO ALL – at the Falkirk Wheel between 11am to 4.30 pm. A huge cake will be cut around 3.30. Officially it’s “a chance for everyone to loosen their cycle clips and let their hair down while the music and fun goes up a gear!”

50 Sustrans Rangers and their friends are setting off (by bike) along the two canals which meet in Falkirk. The Edinburgh ride starts from Fountainbridge and the Glasgow one starts from Kelvingrove Park, both at 9:30am. The Union Canal meanders along, to avoid the need for locks and manages to take 32 miles, around 5 miles more than a road route, (but it’s flat!).

As long as you set off before noon you should be able to arrive in time for the cake. Or you could cheat and get the train part way – why not get off at Polmont and experience the tunnel

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, paths, ride, Sustrans | 1 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 »

End of Trams?

Posted by chdot on May 5, 2007

tram + bike
Interesting times. The Scottish Parliament now has only one Independent – Edinburgh’s own Margo MacDonald – and two Greens (including their very first MSP, former Edinburgh teacher Robin Harper), five fewer than before. The Council has three Greens (up from zero) and twelve SNP Councillors (previously one). This may merely reflect the fact that the Council was elected by proportional representation for the first time and Labour is also relatively unpopular at present.

One policy where the SNP is at odds with all the other parties on City of Edinburgh Council – and which may have helped it pick up votes – is the provision of trams. The SNP clearly campaigned with the promise that if it gained power in the Scottish Parliament it would scrap Edinburgh’s ‘expensive’ tram plans. They now have a month to create a coalition (or try to govern alone as the party with the greatest number of seats – one more than Labour).

Generally environmental and cycling groups are in favour of trams as they would provide good quality public transport. In some parts of the world they are successfully persuading people to abandon their cars for many journeys. Lothian cycle campaign Spokes, took a decision to back trams in spite of unease about the loss of the Roseburn Corridor in its present form. Spokes had secured guarantees that if a tram line were built from Haymarket to the Waterfront on the former railway line, a walk/cycle path would be created alongside – though this would not be useable while construction work was proceeding.

Planned changes to this leafy part of the North Edinburgh Cycle Network were too much for some people who resigned from Spokes. The reluctance of the Council’s transport company tie to enthusiastically embrace the idea of carrying bikes on trams and, more importantly, to plan properly to accommodate cycling along Princes Street, has not endeared it to some people who would like to be more enthusiastic about the idea of trams.

IF the SNP still wishes to stop the tram schemes (and deal with any contractual issues) there will be money available for spending elsewhere. SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill who is now the Member for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh (previously a Lothian List MSP) may be a key player. Last year he was calling for a referendum. “Council taxpayers in Edinburgh are entitled to a vote on whether or not they want their hard-earned money spent on trams and to be paying for them for decades to come.” In spite of some vociferous opposition, it is far from certain that people in Edinburgh would vote against tram plans.

IF the trams are cancelled (with or without a referendum) it is important that the money is not just transferred into other ‘BIG Projects’ – road building or a new high speed rail line to Glasgow. Smaller scale projects, such as re-opening Edinburgh’s South Suburban Line (which runs through MacAskill’s new constituency) to passengers, would be more useful. Smaller scale projects improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians and providing universally available Cycle Training for primary school pupils would be highly cost effective (and socially and environmentally beneficial). ‘Safe Routes to School’ should also be a basic part of a rational transport/Active Travel policy. Kenny MacAskill was the SNP’s first Transport Spokesman in the Scottish Parliament (1999). At that time he was a parent at Sciennes Primary which was a highly effective ‘Safe Routes’ pioneer in Edinburgh and he took a keen interest in ‘Safe Routes’ issues.

But most things will still be decided and implemented locally. The make-up of the coalition may be decided behind closed doors this weekend (Evening News story). Three former councillors who had expected to be re-elected, are Trevor Davies (high profile, and sometimes controversial, Planning chairman), Sue Tritton (keen on recycling and reducing light pollution from street lights) and Lawrence Marshall (Public Transport campaigner – especially on rail). Their expertise will be missed.

More than half of Edinburgh’s new councillors are new to the Council, (you now have three or four depending which ward you are in). They will no doubt need helpful advice on what should be done to make life better for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users – who are NOT three distinct groups of people.

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, paths, Safe Routes to School, Shawfair, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »