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Government Relies on Spokes Statistics

Posted by chdot on August 5, 2009

SPICe

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?

Posted in Active Travel, Airdrie to Bathgate, Art, Bicycle Film Festival, bike security theft, bike shops, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, BikeStation, bikeweek, ChangingPace, Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Craigmillar Cycles, critical mass, CTC, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, Cycling on TV, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, ERC, European Moblity Week, Food, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, HEALTH, holidays, Maps, Meadowbank Velodrome, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Chris Hoy Wins Again

Posted by chdot on June 30, 2009

This year’s winner of The Edinburgh Award is Sir Chris. (Press release)

“The Edinburgh Award was set up in 2007 to recognise an individual’s outstanding achievements and contribution to the city of Edinburgh. The winner is selected by a judging panel chaired by the Lord Provost, with representatives from all political groups on the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council and the business community.”

Previous winners are writers Ian Rankin and JK Rowling. Another nominee this year for “services to cycling” was Maggie Wynn of ChangingPace.

UPDATE – Chris Hoy’s acceptance speech

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, Cycling News | Leave a Comment »

Bike Week Film Festival Starts Today

Posted by chdot on June 11, 2009


Edinburgh’s Filmhouse plays host to the Bike Week Film Festival for the 4th time this year. 

Tonight there’s the chance to see Dave Sowerby’s sensational YouTube video hit, Inspired Bicycles, showing off the exploits of talented Edinburgh based rider Danny MacAskill on the big screen.

Danny is on a non-stop 24 day tour demonstrating his skills in person, but Dave is expected to attend. 

The main event is Mark Huskisson’s film Home which “combines a celebration of mountain biking with a passion for shooting in stunning landscapes”.

Afterwards Chris Ball of Dirtschool (who appears in Home) will lead a discussion on cycling – in Scotland (audience participation welcome).

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, bikeweek, ChangingPace, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »

Bike Week Looms

Posted by chdot on May 31, 2009


Less than a couple of weeks away it’s that annual celebration of cycling that adds a few extra organised rides to the streets of the Capital – and elsewhere throughout the UK.

Find your nearest ride (and a range of other events) on the official Bike Week web site’s Google map.

Some events seem to be offshore – no doubt a technology failure/operator error!

Once again Edinburgh has two fine fixtures – Spokes Bike Breakfast on the 17th and the Bike Week Film Festival (11th to 13th). The breakfast is free, films are at normal Filmhouse prices.

Posted in Active Travel, Art, Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, bikeweek, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Physical Activity and Health, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans | 1 Comment »

Edinburgh Council Signs Cycle Treaty!

Posted by chdot on May 26, 2009


brussels treaty

City of Edinburgh Council is often criticised for the gap between its (sometimes lukewarm) pro-cycling rhetoric and the realities in the streets. Manifesto pledges for a ‘model cycling city’ are, so far, little more than words.

Things may be about to change. Fairly new Head of Transport Marshall Poulton travelled to Brussels (probably not by bike) to sign the new Charter of Brussels. Surprisingly Edinburgh is the UK’s first city to adopt its principles. (Even accident avoiding London Mayor Boris Johnson missed out on this photo opportunity.)

Marshall and CEC Cycling Officer Chris Brace were in Belgium for Velo-city 2009 – the latest version of the assembly of cycle planners and campaigners that was hosted by Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2001.

The key passage that Edinburgh has agreed to says: “To set a target of at least 15% for the share of cycling in the modal split of trips for the year 2020 and of further growth if this target already is achieved.”

The truth is this is hugely ambitious – but not impossible. The current share is closer to 5%. The target doesn’t necessarily mean a tripling of cycling (though that would be nice). Less car use will need to be a significant factor. More passenger journeys on public transport will be beneficial to all road users, but will do little to shift the balance between 5% and 15%.

Politicians (local and national) have to grasp the reality that having accepted that it is a ‘good thing’ to encourage cycling it will require a significant change in attitudes – AND money. More people need to feel that cycling on normal roads is ‘safe’. There is little scope in Edinburgh for many segregated cycle lanes on existing roads. Maintaining the current on-road cycle lanes properly would be a good start.

Cycle Training for all pupils (in school time) should be implemented as part of the new Curriculum for Excellence. Widespread availability of practical training/encouragement for adults (especially parents of school age children) would be a good idea.

Politicians have to stop believing that voters=motorists. Even where that is true they are also pedestrians, cyclists, shoppers, parents of children too young to drive, children of people too old to drive, etc.

The Charter ends:

“Furthermore, the signers of this charter call upon all authorities worldwide, at all levels to strongly promote cycling and to incorporate cycling into all areas of policy (health, spatial planning, city management, economy, mobility and traffic, leisure, sports, tourism).”

Earlier this year Copenhagen brought an exhibition (Dreams on Wheels) about its cycling vision to the Botanics. Perhaps in a few years Edinburgh will be able to justifiably boast about its own achievements.

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, bike security theft, bike shops, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Exhibition, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, HEALTH, holidays, Lothian Buses, Maps, Meadowbank Velodrome, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, 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 edinburghfixedgear.co.uk 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 »

Hoy Stands Up for Mental Health

Posted by chdot on February 12, 2009


Superhero Chris Hoy is on a roll – the medals, the knighthood, the cheesy cameos in TV adverts for breakfast cereal!

He is in demand – personal appearances, game show panellist, big figure sponsorship opportunities etc. The pressure must be immense – and that’s not counting the training schedule required for future successes.

So it may come as a surprise that he is willing to attach his name (and time) to a charity that does not deal with a ‘popular’ subject. No cuddly animals, no high profile children’s charity – or even a sport or environmental one.

No he’s chosen SAMH – the Scottish Association For Mental Health. But that makes sense. Most people know that cycling is good for general health. Cycling is also great for mental health. The exercise gives a sense of wellbeing. In addition a bicycle is a simple tool for getting away to somewhere nice. In Edinburgh that’s as simple as heading for the North Edinburgh Path Network or the Union Canal or anywhere along the Water of Leith.

One great place to visit is Redhall Walled Garden which is in Craiglockhart Dell close to the WoL Walkway and the canal. Coincidentally it’s a project run by SAMH.

Anyone who saw how Chris handled the ‘fans’ after the bus top parade in Edinburgh last year will know how well he deals with people. They were excited to meet him, have their photographs take with him – or even by him – feel the medals etc. It wasn’t just about seeing someone ‘famous’ it was also the uplifting effects of being involved with a great sporting success.

Chris Hoy is a worthy holder of the new title “Scotland’s first ambassador for mental health“.

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, bikeweek, ChangingPace, Chris Hoy, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, Meadowbank Velodrome, TryCycling | 1 Comment »

Even More Cycling on TV

Posted by chdot on August 18, 2008


In the week when Britain’s cyclists (including Edinburgh’s Chris Hoy) are doing rather well at the Olympics, there’s a completely different type of cycling on BBC1.

First shown in Scotland several months ago, the story of Mark Beaumont’s amazing record breaking round the world trip is on four nights this week throughout the UK.

Today 11.15, Tuesday 10.35, Wednesday 10.45, Thursday 10.35

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, Climate Change, Cycling News, Cycling on TV, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride | 1 Comment »

Film Fest Final Day

Posted by chdot on June 15, 2008


BWFF organiser Maggie Wynn listens to Jacquie Phelan

Another successful Bike Week Film Festival finishes today with two showings.

At 1 o’clock there’s 24-Solo about World Champion Chris Eatough – a “rare glimpse into the personal life of the sport’s most successful 24 Hour racer is a rollercoaster of energy and emotion”.

After a break that will give you time for a ride round Edinburgh and a chance to sample the Filmhouse’s beers and natchos there’s Hardihood at 6.00.

And afterwards one of the film’s stars, Jacquie Phelan, will talk about Mountain Biking and her involvement in the pioneering racing years. If you were at Klunkerz on Friday you know it will be entertaining!

Posted in Art, Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, bikeweek, ChangingPace, citycycling, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride | 2 Comments »