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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?

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Yellow Bus Report Encourages Cycling

Posted by chdot on September 12, 2008


The Yellow School Bus Commission has issued its report today. It concludes that a widespread, America style, system of school buses would reduce ‘school run’ traffic congestion and have positive effects on pupils and the environment.

It is also clear about other methods of getting to school: “The Commission strongly believes that walking and cycling should be encouraged and promoted within sensible distances.” It recommends “Further measures to encourage walking and cycling”.

“As stated in Section 4 and reinforced in the recommendations, the Commission is mindful that any proposals should build on the work done to develop walking and cycling. For shorter distances, walking and cycling remain the most sustainable mode of travel for the journey to school.”

The six person commission was chaired by David Blunkett MP and included Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

Full report (64 pages) | Executive summary (5 pages)

Posted in Active Travel, bike security theft, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, Lothian Buses, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 2 Comments »

It’s Bike Week

Posted by chdot on June 9, 2008


It officially starts on Saturday and gets off to a flying start in Edinburgh on Thursday with the Bike Week Film Festival.

The opening event is also a book launch for ‘Heroes,  Villains and Velodromes: Chris, Hoy and the British Cycling Revolution’ by Richard Moore, to be published by HarperCollins on 16 June. (Advance, publication copies will be available for sale at this event.)

Donald Walker,  sports editor of The Scotsman,  will chair a discussion afterwards with Richard Moore and the directors, of Standing Start,  Finlay Pretsell and Adrian McDowall.

The Friday and Sunday film shows will have pioneering Mountain Biker Jacquie Phelan answering questions! Jacquie is in Scotland for a few weeks, riding around, researching for a book and adding her inimitable style to a series of events. Seen here in Bingham with a group of people who hadn’t cycled for YEARS. Watch the video or read her own account.

Other events – bikeweekedinburgh.info

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »

(Part of) Edinburgh to be Travel Demonstration Community?

Posted by chdot on March 17, 2008


Members of Bingham Bicycle Club about to enter East Lothian

Today the Scottish Government announced some details for “Scotland’s local authorities to help create a series of ‘sustainable travel demonstration communities’ across the country”. (In part a response to England’s Cycling Demonstration Towns.)

The topic was the subject of a seminar in Edinburgh in December. City of Edinburgh Council was represented – as were various Edinburgh based organisations with an interest in ‘sustainable transport’. The ‘Scottish Demo Town’ idea was announced a year before – in the National Transport Strategy.

There have been rumours that cities wouldn’t be eligible because they are too big. But all (32) Scottish local authorities have been sent details and asked to consider areas/communities with populations up to 100,000. One place that might be chosen is Inverness (a city since 2001) with about half that number of people – and already involved in various cycle/sustainable transport initiatives.

For Edinburgh it would mean finding an area containing less than a fifth of its population. It could be the city centre which already has the highest concentration of cycling. However the aim of this initiative is that “communities would be a role model for others to follow, showcasing the very best methods available to encourage residents to use more environmentally-friendly forms of transport.”

It might be better to look to the east of the city where there is already a reasonable network of walk/cycle paths – particularly the Innocent Path – and other paths gradually being improved. A suitable TDC could include some (or all of) Leith, Portobello, Craigmillar, Duddingston, Bingham.

The whole area is relatively flat (east of Arthur’s Seat!) and includes parts that are being rebuilt or about to get significant new development – Brunstane/Newcraighall, Craigmillar/Greendykes, Lochend, Leith Docks.

The Scottish Government press release talks as though all the work will be done by local councils, but for this to really work in a place like Edinburgh (small towns will have a more established sense of community and travel to work areas) it’s probably necessary to involve existing local groups. These could be ‘interest’ groups such as Greener Leith, PEDAL (Portobello) and Craigmillar Cycles as well as neighbourhood groups and Community Councils.

The Scottish Government is looking for “innovative ideas” (these are just a few of those suggested in the press release).

  • Organised cycling and walking trips
  • More pedestrian/cycle/walking only areas
  • Improved conditions for walking, footpaths cleared of obstacles; better managed and maintained streets
  • Improvement of green space
  • Better use of public spaces to increase opportunities for recreational physical activity
  • Free bus and train tickets encouraging residents to give it a try
  • Maps explaining how to walk or cycle to a local shop, or even something as simple as a timetable for their nearest bus stop
  • School and work place travel plans

Quite a lot of possibilities – but there’s only £15m available over 3 years and only half a dozen places likely to be chosen. Edinburgh will need (and want) to make a good case.

This part of Edinburgh also joins both East Lothian and Midlothian. The new Queen Margaret University is just yards away from the border. Shawfair (the new community due to built with the involvement of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils) is close by. Perhaps SEStran will take an interest in, and help with, the idea of Travel Demonstration Communities too.

Colin Howden, Director of TRANSform Scotland is supportive of this new initiative:

“This will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase how small-scale local transport projects can get people to switch to sustainable transport. The English scheme has proved very successful. Given the additional funding available in the Scottish scheme, there is no reason why this shouldn’t deliver even better results.

“If Scotland is to achieve its ambitious climate change emission targets then the transport sector is going to have to play a large part. The sustainable travel towns will provide examples of how to bring about reductions in carbon emissions.

“We hope that many local authorities around Scotland will bring forward bids. It’s important that we see a range of towns in both urban and rural areas take forward sustainable travel towns.”

Posted in bike security theft, bike shops, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, Midlothian, paths, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Shawfair, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, technology, walking | 3 Comments »

Mountain Biking ‘Boosts Scottish Economy’

Posted by chdot on February 24, 2008

7staness.jpg
Photo
supplied by Forestry Commission Scotland

“The 7stanes mountain bike project has helped to boost the economy in southern Scotland by increasing the annual visitor spend to over £9m in 2007, according to an independent survey published today (Sunday 24 February).”

The report – 7stanes Phase 2 Evaluation – shows that “visitor numbers to the trail centres area have more than doubled since 2004, rising to some 400,000 per year.” One significant bonus is that the project has helped create 205 ‘full time equivalent’ jobs in southern Scotland.

The favourite destination for many Edinburgh mountain bikes is Glentress. Partly because it is relatively close but also the quality and variety of trails, the impressive bike shop ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and also (not least) The Hub Cafe.

Glentress is also an ‘aspiration destination’ for young people who might not normally get the chance to go. Recent funding from the Scottish Government and the Lottery will pay for 200 youngsters to experience the trails at the end of  Bike Building Courses run by The Bike Station.

Posted in bike shops, BikeStation, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, ride | Leave a Comment »

LibDems Still Committed to Making “Edinburgh a Model Cycle-Friendly City”

Posted by chdot on February 20, 2008

Cycle campaigners Spokes recently wrote to council leader Cllr Jenny Dawe about the council budget – due to be finalised tomorrow (21 Feb).

She has replied. The Spokes reaction: “It sounds very positive, though what it means in practice only time will tell!”

Cllr Dawe writes: “I was particularly struck by the detailed and informative case that you made for promoting cycling and the positive impact that this could have for Edinburgh’s economy, sustainability, health and quality of life.

As you correctly highlight, the Liberal Democrats local manifesto, ‘Winning a Bright New Future for Edinburgh‘ pledged to make Edinburgh a Model Cycle-Friendly City. It also contained a series of measures to encourage people to cycle. I would reassure that these commitments, and Spokes’ powerful arguments, will inform consideration and development of the budget.”

But it wasn’t just about money, Spokes is asking for “a completely new look at Council cycling policy in 2008 under the newly appointed Head of Transport, Marshall Poulton”.

Mr. Poulter is coming from Transport for London where, presumably, he had a hand in the significant increase in cycle spending.



“LibDem plans include having a “green champion” in every department. This might be tokenism or a serious attempt to begin to make one of the city’s largest employers take the idea of ’sustainability’ seriously.”
This site 13.5.07


Posted in bike security theft, bike shops, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, bikeweek, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Shawfair, Spokes, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking | 5 Comments »

One to Watch (?)

Posted by chdot on January 4, 2008

bikesquad.jpg
Hat Trick Productions

Bike Squad, a 90 minute ‘pilot’ – which could become a series, is on STV at 9.00 tonight.

“Comedy drama starring Mark Addy and Maxine Peake. A group of police misfits, led by an unfit misanthrope with a deep loathing of bicycles, are dumped in a scheme to put ‘Bobbies back on bikes’.

At first they are considered to be a joke by their colleagues and in the community, but when pride kicks in and they pull together to get the job done, the scheme works so well, that the rag-tag team discover they may be destined to be stuck on their bikes forever.”

It’s by Drop the Dead Donkey writer Guy Jenkin, so should be amusing. At least the bikes are authentic.

Posted in Art, citycycling, Craigmillar Cycles, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh | 2 Comments »

TRANSform Scotland Comments on Sustainable Travel to Schools

Posted by chdot on December 4, 2007


In response to questions from The Sustainable Development CommissionTRANSform‘s Chair Paul Tetlaw, says


Thank you for consulting me on this subject. My comments, which are primarily focussed on transport impacts, are detailed below.  

Q1. What should the school of the future be like?  

* It should be linked to the local community by high quality walking and cycling routes and should contain showers and changing rooms for cyclists.
* It should be well served by public transport links.
* Car parking provision should be reduced and/or workplace parking charges introduced – why should money for educational purposes be used to provide free parking for staff or pupils?
* Any new builds should incorporate all these facilities – others should be retrofitted.  

Q2. How might we get to this future vision?  

* Schools should have travel plans designed/monitored by travel planners.
* Sustainable transport should be part of the school curriculum with pupils taught about all aspects of the impact of transport AND encouraged to help design safe routes to school/ cycle facilities etc.
* Teachers/ senior pupils should act as role models.
* Schools should also be outward thinking in terms of their potential to influence the local community in these matters.
* Twinning arrangements and exchange of best practice should be developed with schools in countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands which are so much better than the UK in these matters.
* Govt/ local authority targets should be set for modal share for travel to school and schools should be encouraged to use public transport for school trips – indeed as a teaching mechanism.

NOTE children are taken on buses in Edinburgh (supervised by teachers) on school visits. This could be extended to cycling with the teachers on certain visits – which already happens in countries such as the Netherlands.

* Food used in schools should be locally sourced.
* The health/ exercise agenda should ensure that active travel is seen as a key element – not just sports at school.   And finally we must ensure that the freedom of choice and /or centralisation agenda does not compromise sustainable development objectives. 

School visits by bike do happen occasionally in Edinburgh. Craigmillar Primary School pupils cycled to The People’s Story some years ago. More recently Lismore Primary paid a cycling visit to new neighbour Queen Margaret University (see photo).

There a few after school cycling clubs, but much more use could be made of cycling (and Edinburgh’s off-road path network) for educational trips – and exercise…

Posted in ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Core Path Network, Craigmillar Cycles, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School | 2 Comments »

QM Actively Encourages Cycling

Posted by chdot on August 1, 2007

QMU path from Newcraighall
In two months time thousands of people will be living and working in a former field in East Lothian. Queen Margaret was once Edinburgh’s Domestic Science college, it’s now a University specialising in things like Business, Drama and Health Sciences. Eight hundred will live on campus and many more will commute daily. The University is fairly serious about its ‘green credentials’ and has its own Green Travel Co-ordinator dealing with Travel and Transport.

Gill Kelly has a challenging role encouraging healthier and more sustainable travel choices, both at the existing QM locations and the new, replacement, site which has been designed with limited parking – restricted to those with the greatest need. The brand new campus is right next to Musselburgh Station, which is just six minutes from Waverley on the North Berwick line, though there’s generally only one train an hour.

Slightly further away is Newcraighall Station with a half hourly service. One day this station will be busier with the re-opening of the line to Galashiels (work started) and (sometime) the South Sub – check the web site and sign the petition. Unfortunately this is on the wrong side of the tracks and a journey on foot, or by bike, takes twice as long as it would if there was a direct route. The station is in Edinburgh and the University is in East Lothian.

Both Councils have clearly known for a long time about the construction and completion of this massive new workplace. ELC has introduced parking measures to reduce the number of staff and student cars able to park in nearby residential areas. CEC has tarmaced a short section of path through Newcraighall Park.

Earlier this year both councils looked at ways of improving the whole path (part of Sustrans’ NCN 1) – particularly the fact that it is currently unlit and therefore far from attractive when it’s dark. Apparently the path is not close enough to a suitable electricity supply – though obviously at one end there is a large university at the other an electrified railway line! As a consequence QM is hoping to install solar powered lights. Gill says – “I’m keen to see the path improved and well lit before the beginning of term in October, I’m working closely with the councils to bring this about.”

QMU has also undertaken to deal with the vegetation alongside the path (see photo). It would be nice to think that the Councils and QM could also work together (perhaps with the help of SEStran) to create a new route to Newcraighall Station. The most direct line involves cutting a swathe through the recent trees on the City Bypass embankment, over the bridge and then (after the creation of a new ramp) down to the station platform. There is plenty of room on the overbridge, the extra width is a ‘visibility splay’ to provide stopping sight distance for 120kph design speed. The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges permits footways & cycletracks in such areas.

Google Map of existing and alternative routes from Newcraighall Station.

Sustrans leaflet of the area.

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Maps, paths, ride, Shawfair, Sustrans, walking | 2 Comments »

Deal Done over Peartree Pint

Posted by chdot on June 28, 2007


Award winning filmmaker Chas Nairn (right) has agreed to make a film with the Bike Station. After last week’s World Premiere of his new film Extended Family he was approached with the idea of documenting The Bike Station‘s next Build a Bike Course which is being run with a group of young people from Granton in North Edinburgh.

The aim is to produce both a guide to what the course actually teaches and also record how those taking it develop from being fairly inexperienced bike fixers to more competent mechanics. In addition it is hoped that some of the footage will be used in conjunction with film of other Edinburgh projects such as those like Craigmillar Cycles, to highlight some of what is happening in Edinburgh.

Chas met the Bike Station’s Training Manager Steve Hynd (left), who will run the course, in the Peartree’s Beer Garden to discuss the plan. Filming starts tomorrow, Chas will show extracts from his new film, including scenes from Glentress. A day there is part of the Build a Bike course.

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, BikeStation, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Craigmillar Cycles, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, ride, Safety, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »