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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 »

“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 »

Free Breakfast – Courtesy of the Council

Posted by chdot on June 16, 2009

Spokes Bike Breakfast 2007s
In the morning (Wednesday) there’s the annual Spokes Bike Breakfast, at the City Chambers, as part of Bike Week. From 8.00 there will be orange juice, cofffee, bacon, rolls and scrambled eggs.

In addition there will be stalls from organisations like Spokes, Sustrans and Transform. There’s “free chain clean and lube from Edinburgh Bicycle” – the first 100 people to the Edinburgh Bicycle stall get a free gift pack. The first 20 arrivals to the Spokes stall will get a free Spokes map.

As well as food and information there’s usually some serious networking and lobbying by Edinburgh’s cycle campaigners as various Councillors and MSPs pass by. There will be speeches – including Councillors Paul Edie (Lib Dem), Convenor of the City Health Committee and Steve Burgess (Green).

Around 9.30 Cycling Scotland will lead a small group of MSPs on a short tour. (The current forecast is for heavy rain).

Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, bikeweek, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Safe Routes to School, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans | 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 »

Will WNBR Happen In Edinburgh this Year?

Posted by chdot on June 10, 2009


Edinburgh isn’t very good at doing mass cycling events that are wildly successful elsewhere. On the last Friday of each month thousands take to the streets in more than 300 cities across the world in local Critical Masses. Here it’s just a few people, maybe.

Similarly with WNBR.  70 cities have citizens brave enough to take some, or all of their clothes off (‘official’ dress code is “As Bare As You Dare”). Last year (see photo) a few dozen people who were willing to show as much skin as might be seen on Porty beach assembled on Middle Meadow Walk by the Sustrans signpost. A few even contemplated revealing more, but Lothian and Borders Police have a very firm position on such things… 

This year no-one has been bothered to organise WNBR here. If you pass by at 3.00 you may see more Police than participants (you’ll be missing the Cycle Speedway International too!

Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, bikeweek, Climate Change, critical mass, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Physical Activity and Health, ride | 8 Comments »

Cycle Speedway International Comes to Edinburgh

Posted by chdot on June 10, 2009

Cycle Speedway posters
Scotland’s only Cycle Speedway club, Edinburgh Falcons CSC, is hosting the Home International on Saturday.

Teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales will compete elbow to elbow, (it’s a contact sport), at the red bleas Rebraes track (map).

Thrills and spills in fast four lap heats.

Tapes up 2.00 (admission FREE).

Posted in Bike Week, bikeweek, citycycling, cycle racing, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Physical Activity and Health | 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 »

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 »

Very Cheap Summer Travel

Posted by chdot on May 1, 2009

nxec

 

National Express East Coast has just e-mailed its customers (or is that potential passengers?) with details of its latest cheap ticket offer.

NXEC (it’s still so much easier to say GNER) is letting people travel up and down the East Coast Main Line for a mere £9. The image shows seats available at 9am today, all the way to London, on a randomly chosen date.

Booking must be done by Tuesday for travel between June 1st and July 26th. There is also a requirement to download a voucher which must be taken on the train with the ticket.

Of course bikes (and indeed tandems) still travel free. (Booking required).

Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, citycycling, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, holidays | 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 »