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MAJOR New Report on “Active Travel”

Posted by chdot on March 26, 2010

The Scottish Parliament Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee has just reported on its “Inquiry into Active Travel”. (Call for submissions)

A wide range of organisations and individuals contributed evidence. The report calls on the Scottish Government to act in many areas and explicitly says that without significant action (and money) there is no change of the SG’s target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020 being remotely possible.

Benefits of investment in active travel

191. Alex Macaulay of SEStran expressed the view that “the capital cost of providing for good-quality active travel is relatively modest compared to other major transport investment.” He went on to say that “…it seems to me to be a no-brainer that in times when money is tight we should put it where we will get a bigger bang for our buck.”

The concluding sentence in the report is – “Stronger, more effective and sustained leadership is required from the Scottish Government in order to implement improvements to walking and cycling policies in Scotland.”

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/ticc/reports-10/trr10-04.htm

Will Scottish Ministers – for Finance, Transport, Health, Education etc. actually sit down together to discuss this document?

Will Alex Salmond ever ride a bike?

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Scotland Years Ahead of Denmark!

Posted by chdot on January 13, 2010

Photo by [Zakka / Mikael]

Can’t be often you read that, especially when it relates to cycling! The fact remains that the £3 bike charge on ScotRail was abolished in 1998 to coincide with greatly improved cycle capacity on most routes. (Bikes still have to be booked on some long distance routes.)

“Danish State Railways [DSB] will allow bicycles to travel free on the red S-trains that serve Greater Copenhagen and suburbs. It is a test period that starts this Friday and that will last for the rest of the year. DSB hope to make everyday journeys easier for Copenhageners and encourage more people to use their bicycle.” (Story from copenhagenize.com.)

Wouldn’t it be nice if trains in the UK marked the bike spaces so well! (And had more of it – though Scotland is generally much better than other parts.)

Meanwhile in California bikes go free too – but there’s room for more of them.

Photo richardmasoner

Posted in Active Travel, Bikes on trains, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, EducatedTravel, holidays, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health | 2 Comments »

Scottish Parliament Committee Wants YOUR view on “Active Travel”

Posted by chdot on November 4, 2009

transport committee
The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee is “holding an inquiry into Active Travel – walking and cycling”.

Yesterday the Committee took evidence on the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2010-11 from John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (in private).

According to Spokes (via Twitter) Des McNulty MSP asked Mr. Swinney about the Spokes Budget submission and “JS said will look at any proposals by the cttee”.

The 10 page proposal from Spokes was also considered by the Committee (again in private) – along with other written submissions (TCICC agenda and written evidence).

The Spokes document is, as usual, a comprehensive and thorough argument for (modest) increased spending on cycling in Scotland. It points out many policies, targets and “warm words” that still have to be backed with action – and cash.

The Spokes proposals (if adopted) would mean that spending on cycle projects would roughly double but still only be around 2% of current Scottish spending on Transport. The Scottish Government has indicated that it would like to see 10% of journeys being by bike by 2020. Edinburgh is aiming for 15%.

It is expected that the Committee will question Mr. Swinney further on his Government’s intentions on “Active Travel” and ask him to include some (or all) of the Spokes suggestions in the forthcoming Budget – or justify his refusal for the second year running.

The Committee (convened by Green MSP Patrick Harvie) is calling “for views on walking and cycling in Scotland“. It wants answers to six straightforward questions. “Respondents are invited to structure their responses around the issues identifed by the Committee. You are free to answer as many or as few of the questions as you wish.”

Closing date for submissions – Friday 11 December 2009.


Posted in Active Travel, Bikes on trains, 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, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Safe Routes to School, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Bikes to the Fore in Commuter Challenge

Posted by chdot on September 16, 2009

First arrival at St. Andrew Square in today’s annual Commuter Challenge was Richard Bloodworth (left) on a minimalist recumbent. He covered the four miles from The Royal Infirmary in just 15 minutes – half the time of the bus.

A tandem was the first arrival from Ocean Terminal – again twice as fast as the bus. Though even the bus passenger was quicker than the father/daughter carshare team – finding a legal parking space takes time!

The fastest average speed from all four staring places was 21mph on two wheels – but with the benefit of an engine. Second fastest was the train and Brompton combination from Queen Margaret University (Musselburgh station).

The flat out fastest cyclist managed 16.1mph on the 7 miles from the park and ride at Ingliston.

BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland reporter David Miller did a live report from QMU then drove to his office in Holyrood Road and walked to the finish to broadcast interviews with CC organiser Maggie Wynn and Alex Macaulay, Partnership Director of event sponsor SEStran. SEStran is involved with public transport and also encouraging people to walk, cycle and carshare.

FULL DETAILS

Photos from the finish can be viewed on Flickr.

Folder

Slideshow

Posted in Active Travel, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, cyclingedinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safety, tandem, walking | Leave a Comment »

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?

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“Smarter Ways Forward”

Posted by chdot on June 23, 2009

Smarter Ways Forward
Photo Colin Howden

Smarter Ways Forward is the latest report from transport pressure group Transform Scotland Trust. It’s 50 pages of detailed research into the results of various measures, north and south of the border, encouraging people to walk, cycle and take public transport.

It highlights the ongoing problems and some of the answers:-

“Distances as short as one kilometre are regularly travelled by car (Scottish Executive 2005). Nearly a quarter of car journeys are less than 2 miles and over a half of all journeys made by car are less than 5 miles (CfIT 2007). Research on the impact of Smarter Choices by Sustrans/Socialdata found significant modal shift is possible: 50% of all local car trips in non-metropolitan towns could be replaced by walking, cycling and/or public transport (CfIT 2007).”

Annual surveys of school children in Scotland demonstrate a small shift towards more walkng and cycling.

Sustrans’ National Hands-Up Survey Scotland 2008 (May 2009) reported that 51.8% of Scottish children travel to school by active travel modes – a greater number that those who get to school by car, bus or taxi (47.7%). The number of children cycling (2.8%) or walking (48.3%) to school was greater than Sustrans had expected. It was found that 27.6% of children were driven to school for all or part of their journey (6.1% of this amount took the car for part of the journey and walked the rest) while 18.1%” took the bus.”

Transform’s researchers asked local authorities what would help them implement measures and what, if any, problems they had encountered in attempting to implement measures. The report finds that “general problems such as ingrained car culture among staff, and lack of senior management buy-in to Smarter Choices make it difficult for them to implement various measures”.

In Edinburgh there is some evidence that such attitudes are being. slowly, overcome. The Council’s recent adoption of a policy of ‘15% by 2020’ for cycle journeys is a massive step forward, though a few days later the firm target was officially described as “aspirational”

The conclusions of Smarter Ways Forward (page 32) are under five main headings: –

A national Smarter Choices programme – “..The programme would be delivered at local and regional levels – making commonplace the implementation of schemes such as workplace travel plans, school travel plans, car clubs, and car sharing..”

Car clubs – “..a review of possible support strategies that would encourage the development of car clubs to serve communities throughout Scotland.

(Tele-)Conferencing -“Local authorities (and/or RTPs) should increase access for small businesses and voluntary organisations to affordable conferencing facilities through creation of local ICT hubs.”

School travel plans – “..We recommend that School Travel Coordinator posts be a mandatory requirement of Local Authorities; that Local Authorities should provide adequate budgets for school travel planning; and that the Scottish Government (as part of recommendation 1.1 above), consider reinstating ringfenced funding for the School Travel Coordinator programme.”

Public transport information – “The Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers in Scotland (ATCO Scotland) should take forward work on improving common standards for public transport information across Scotland..”

Is it possible that the Government can ignore another well researched and well argued report on ‘sustainable’ transport that addresses some of the issues that need to be dealt with if the ambitious targets of the Climate Change Bill (today in Holyrood) are to be met?

Posted in Active Travel, bike security theft, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, 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, Lothian Buses, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

“investment in walking and cycling is declining”

Posted by chdot on June 17, 2009

delivering climate change

That’s the sad, but very understandable, conclusion of Transform Scotland after reading the Scottish Government’s new Climate Change Delivery Plan.

Press release in full –

Responding to today’s launch of its Climate Change Delivery Plan, Transform Scotland have criticised the Scottish Government’s plans as being unambitious on transport.

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“Transport is the basket case of climate change policy. It is the second largest sector for emissions after heat, and it is the sector where things are still going in the wrong direction.

“The delivery plan does a good job of setting out the range of measures that could reduce emissions from the transport sector – including demand management, investment in active travel and Smarter Choices, and cutting speed limits. The problem is that Government action in these areas is small and stunted: investment in walking and cycling is declining, the budget for Smarter Choices is tiny, while there is little action to ensure the enforcement of current speed limits let alone reducing speed limits.

“All of this contrasts with the Government’s multi-billion road-building programme – which goes strangely unmentioned in this document. At £2,000 million, the proposed Second Forth Road Bridge on its own represents 100 years of Government investment in active travel at current levels.

“There remains a huge mismatch between Government stated aspirations towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its own spending priorities. If the Government truly wants to deliver on its climate change targets then it needs to give top priority to low-cost and swiftly deliverable investments in active travel and Smarter Choices measures, rather than relying on the vain hope that technological change – mainly outwith its control – will come to save the day.”

Posted in Active Travel, bike security theft, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, ChangingPace, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, HEALTH, Lothian Buses, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 4 Comments »

Velib Comes to Capital

Posted by chdot on June 12, 2009


Photo sidewaysbike

Yes that looks like Edinburgh’s Rose Street, but of course it’s Dublin. (More photos on Velovision Forum by Sideways Bike inventor Michael Killian.) London is due to be next and Edinburgh – one day, maybe. City of Edinburgh Council is actively looking into the idea – having seen the success in Paris.

There is a real possibility that Edinburgh’s version of a mass bike hire scheme could arrive before the first trams run.

Imagine an immaculately resurfaced Princes Street (tram line laying there due to be finished by the end of this year) with a Velib station by every block (perhaps where the bus stops used to be) and the buses still running via George Street.

This is certainly the vision of Spokes which is calling for Princes Street to be just for pedestrians, cyclists and trams. Remarkable this idea seems to have struck a chord with Councils officials and politicians and many Edinburgh residents.

Maybe it’s a ‘must do’ if Edinburgh is to have any hope of the proposed 15% of journeys, by bike, by 2020.

Posted in Active Travel, Art, bike security theft, Bikes on trains, citycycling, Climate Change, cycle parking, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, European Moblity Week, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Spokes, technology, Trams, TryCycling | 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
alliance”.

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 »

“Much more commitment is required to boost cycling and walking”

Posted by chdot on June 9, 2009

Herald letter
Four Scottish organisations with an interest in ‘sustainable transport’ (Ramblers Scotland, Sustrans Scotland, Transform Scotland and Living Streets Scotland) have had a letter published in today’s Herald newspaper in response to a recent Herald editorial.

Under the heading “Unsustainable policy” the paper argued that “Scotland boasts one of the most ambitious targets in the world for tackling climate change. The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, which enters its next parliamentary phase today, may include a framework for change but offers little insight as to how this brave policy is to be achieved. Set beside recent trends, it stretches credulity, especially in the area of transport policy.”

Today’s letter backs this view and adds “When two-thirds of Scotland’s car journeys are less than five miles long, it is obvious that, given the right infrastructure and encouragement, the car can be replaced by feet and bike for a huge number of journeys. We know that lots of people want to make the change but we need to make it easier to do so.”

The editorial and letter in the Herald will add to the pressure on the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney to find more money (or in reality reallocate it) – perhaps along the lines suggested by Spokes yesterday.

Posted in Active Travel, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Sustrans | Leave a Comment »