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Be Part of Cycling History for £25

Posted by chdot on January 10, 2010

Edinburgh born cycling historian and writer, Andrew Ritchie, is planning to self-publish his next book.

And he’s looking for 100 people to pledge to buy it.

Of course the book’s subtitle may put people off – “Bicycle Racing: Sport, Technology and Modernity, 1867 – 1903”

The title may not appeal either “Quest for Speed“. The knowledge that it is a “substantially revised version of my doctoral dissertation, ‘Bicycle Racing and Recreation: Sport, Technology and Modernity, 1867 – 1903′”, may convince you to keep your pledge in your pocket.

But wait: This is an extract from the abstract (FULL version and details of all chapters) –

Quest for Speed provides a chronological, developmental, historical account of the emergence of bicycle racing and bicycle technology between 1867 and 1903, focusing to a large extent on Britain, but also investigating France and the United States as the two other major players. As a social and cultural history, it gives an outline of the social and institutional organization of cycling and the wider cultural, economic and technological context of the sport. In doing so, it tackles themes of class, nationality, industry and commerce, the press, speed, and the physical capacities of the human body, and also the nature and definition of ‘modernity’.

Even that might sound a bit dry, but the book will be well illustrated – Andrew is an accomplished cycling image researcher. (He fell out with a prospective publisher who balked at the number of proposed illustrations.)

His first book King of the Road has the following on the back cover –

“Andrew Ritchie, himself a passionate cyclist, has widely researched little know collections of pictures, and has found many fascinating books, articles and documents on the early days of the bicycle and its changing design and social importance. Ultimately, he argues, the history of the bicycle has only just begun and it could provide an answer to many of today’s crucial transportation problems.”

That was written 35 years ago.

Maybe it’s beginning to come true…

You can be part of cycling history by promising to buy this book – the first 100 people will have their names in the first (limited edition) print run.

Send an e-mail to jabritchie@hotmail.com and contain your excitement for a few months. Your coffee table will have to wait too.

Posted in Books, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, critical mass, CTC, cycle racing, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Glasgow, History, Physical Activity and Health, Sheldon Brown, technology | Leave a Comment »

Government Encourages Cycling to Work

Posted by chdot on October 28, 2009

cycle to work
The Department of Transport (DfT), alongside the NHS  Change4life initiative, has publicly launched the Cycle to Work Guarantee.

The idea is to encourage employers to pledge to provide the measures that many people expect before they are willing to cycle to work such as showers and secure cycle storage. In addition the Cycle to Work Guarantee web site encourages employers to offer bike maintenance and also suggests “inspiring” more people to cycle.

Many large employers (including government departments and NHS trusts) have already signed up. In addition it has been confirmed that the popular/successful “cycle to work” scheme will continue.

Of course due to devolution the above is for England. Scotland does things differently. With things like the smoking ban and alcohol restrictions, Scotland has policies that the Westminster government has adopted/adapted later.

On cycling south of the border is leading the way. Cycling Demonstration Towns were pioneered before Scotland’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places scheme (which isn’t just about cycling). Cycling England is better resourced than Cycling Scotland (though their remits are different).

Getting more people to cycle to work is clearly a good thing, but getting children cycling is probably more important. In England there are a variety of initiatives. In Edinburgh the ‘basic idea’ of getting children to do the Scottish Cycle Training Scheme seems remarkably difficult. A small number of schools (notable Sciennes and South Morningside) make sure all P6/7 children take part in school time. Some others offer it as an after school activity.

It is ten years since the Road Danger Reduction Forum wrote “The Forum believes that high quality cyclist training for children is essential to achieve the aims of the Integrated Transport Strategy.

Good training provides children with the skills required to be responsible, safe road users not only as children but possibly as future drivers. It is also essential in order to promote and encourage more cycling, particularly through giving parents the confidence to allow their children to cycle.”

Ten years later the idea of Cycle Training leading to better drivers is still valid, but the need for training to be better (adult) cyclists is also strong. Unfortunately not enough children are being trained at primary school age.

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, TryCycling | 1 Comment »

CycleStreets Gets Better

Posted by chdot on October 12, 2009

cyclestreets features

CycleStreets is the UK’s best cycle journey planner. It’s probably the only one that covers the whole of Great Britain and has a good understanding of where the cycle paths are. The underlying mapping is from Open Street Map which is the work of hundreds of volunteers (YOU could be one too).

CycleStreets originated in Cambridge where two members of the Cambridge Cycle Campaign created a cycle journey planner for the city using their computing skills and the dedicated mapping of a small group of residents. It seemed like a good idea to try to do the same for Edinburgh. A small amount of money was granted by the Scottish Government.

This helped to create edinburgh.cyclestreets.net and led to creation of a service that now has 1500placenames.cyclestreets.net.

One significant difference between Cambridge and Edinburgh is that Cambridge is mostly flat. (Edinburgh is actually a lot flatter than many non-cyclists realise – at least for many east/west journeys.) Initially, estimated journeys times were the same for both directions of a route. So The Mound to Canonmills ride was said to take the same time as the return trip!

Now, after many months of hard work, CycleStreets can estimate the expected time of journeys in any direction – try it for yourself. Not only does the CycleStreets software understand gradients – and estimate fairly accurate journey times – it now produces gradient profiles for all suggested versions of the same journey – so you can easily see if the “quietest” route is also the hilliest.

Dublin Street profilehttp://edinburgh.cyclestreets.net/journey/85010

returnhttp://edinburgh.cyclestreets.net/journey/85011

Enjoy! (and feedback if the proposed routes seem ‘strange’)

You can also vote for CycleStreets – and help it get some more development money.

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Maps, ride, Safe Routes to School | 2 Comments »

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 »

iPhone 3.0 Week

Posted by chdot on June 15, 2009


Not everyone has, wants or could afford to have an iPhone, but they can be of great use to cyclists. At a basic level it’s a ‘phone, with text, e-mail and (almost) full web access. So it’s ‘your office in your pocket’ and means, if you have a flexible work life, more chances to go cycling without being ‘out of contact’!

In addition it is a highly effective GPS device which tells you where you are and, using the built in Google Maps Application, can help to plan routes. This is confined to on-road routes as Google doesn’t know much about cyclepaths!

For planning cycle journeys it’s hard to beat CycleStreets.net. This is officially a “public beta” and is getting better every day due to feedback from users (and people adding data to the underlying Open Street Map base.)

On Wednesday iPhone maker Apple is releasing the the latest version of its software – iPhone OS 3.0. The main difference is that copy and paste and device-wide searching will be available – things that should really have been available two years ago.

One thing that sets the iPhone apart from other ‘smart ‘phones’ is the availability of Apps (applications/programs). Many are free, some are really useful. Pictured here are pins produced by the FirePin app. This records your journey and automatically uploads it to the Internet. So you can see where you went, show other people ‘suggested routes’ or even let people know where you are while you are actually cycling.

Another very useful mapping app is EveryTrail which also lets you take photos with the iPhone’s 2MP camera and puts them on an on-line map (which can be kept private). Again good for showing places to go (e.g. Braid Burn from Morningside to the Pentland foothills). Cycling with an iPhone in one hand is not a good idea…

On Friday Apple releases its 3rd generation handset – iPhone 3G S (watch for queues of desperate ‘must-haves’ outside O2 shops). This promises faster processing, a better camera and an electronic compass.

UPDATE: Today an iPhone alternative to Google maps was launched (details), but so far it seems to be US only.

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, CTC, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, Maps, paths, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Spokes maps, technology | 4 Comments »

More needs to be done for “Vulnerable Road Users” – Official

Posted by chdot on May 8, 2009



Photo blackpuddinonnabike

Improving Road Safety for Pedestrians and Cyclists in Great Britain is a new report from the National Audit Office. It reports that “the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured fell from 2000 to 2004, but rose again by 11 per cent from 2004 to 2007, despite the amount of cycling staying broadly constant.”

“Nearly one quarter of all trips are one mile or less, and over 40 per cent are within two miles and so potentially suitable distances for either activity. Improving the actual and perceived safety of walking and cycling will help to increase the uptake of these activities. Improving child safety on the roads is also a key strand of the Government’s Public Service Agreement to improve the safety of children and young people, who are more dependent than adults on walking and cycling.”

The report concentrates on the Department of Transport and so some of it is not directly applicable to Scotland, but issues are largely the same with many responsibilities in the hands of local authorities.

  • Executive summary (PDF – 250KB)
  • Full report (PDF – 1268KB)
  • Press notice (HTML)
  •  

    This report comes just after the CTC released “Safety in Numbers” which conclusively proves that increasing the number of people cycling (and the amount they cycle) has a very positive effect on safety.

    ctc diagrams

    Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, critical mass, CTC, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, Safety, TryCycling, walking | 1 Comment »

    CycleStreets Goes LIVE!

    Posted by chdot on March 23, 2009

    cs-goes-live1
    Cambridge cycle campaigners Martin (front) and Simon have every reason to look pleased with themselves!

    They have just pressed the button to remove the password protection on CycleStreets.net. The pair were also responsible for the seminal Cycle Journey Planner in Cambridge produced because of their computer programming skills and active involvement in the Cambridge Cycle Campaign.

    Over a year ago the idea of a similar CJP for Edinburgh was raised with the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Transport section. A fairly small sum of money (not the mega-millions spent on some UK Government computer projects!) was found to make this happen.

    Originally a public website was planned for September, but computer projects usually overrun… This time it was for a good reason. It was realised that, with a bit of extra time and effort, A Cycle Journey Planner to cover the whole of the UK would be possible.

    You can’t plan a route from Land’s End to John o’Groats – the main purpose of CycleStreets is to encourage more local journeys by bike (or on foot). At present the maximum distance is 30 km (as the crow flies).

    The Planner gives a choice of route – shortest, fastest, (which are often the same – though as the software was developed in Cambridge, which is essentially flat, hills are not accounted for – yet…), and “quietest”.

    The accuracy of this depends on the quality of Open Street Map data. As soon as you start using CycleStreets you will notice familiar urban streets are sometimes marked as “quiet country road”! The good news is that anyone can improve the OSM info.

    Why not plan a route using edinburgh.cyclestreets.net and consider adding improvements to the Open Street Map.

    If you are not sure where your planned route goes you can even “fly through” in Google Earth!

    NOTE CycleStreets is currently “beta” – still some bugs to be found and squeezed. Simon and Martin are wanting cyclists to send them feedback about any problems using the button at the top of all pages.

    Posted in Active Travel, bike shops, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, CTC, cycle parking, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, TryCycling, walking | 4 Comments »

    “Higher fuel prices = cycling boom”

    Posted by chdot on May 30, 2008


    The CTC (the “UK’s national cyclists’ organisation” – and world’s oldest) has been quick to counteract the fuel price whingers.

    Its HQ has sent out a Press Release headed “Higher fuel prices = cycling boom” which boldly predicts that “an extra 1.25 million trips will be made by bicycle every day due to the rising price of petrol and diesel.” (It will be interesting to see which papers mention it tomorrow – The Scotsman had a good article Why price rises are fuelling a push to pedal yesterday.)

    This (possibly modest) assertion is based on the consequences of the last ‘oil crisis’ in 1979 when “cycling increased by almost 40%”. Now the CTC “expects thousands of motorists to leave their cars at home and go to work by bike instead”. It will be hard to tell in Edinburgh – what with the great May weather (OK not today! Might clear up in time for Critical Mass at 5.30), the general increase in cycling to work here and the tram works disruption.

    CTC Director Kevin Mayne says “The amount commuters pay for fuel has a direct correlation with people deciding to take up cycling. Going by bike to work is a cheap, quick, healthy and an environmentally friendly way to commute and as people look to save money where they can, it’s the obvious choice”.

    But it’s not just individual cyclists who save money. The CTC points to a study by Cycling England – which estimates that “every new cyclist contributes an economic benefit of up to £382 to the nation”. The CTC calculates that “a 40% increase in cycling would provide at least £1bn worth of benefits”.

    Estimated results of 40% increase in cycling (£m)
    Reduction in premature deaths
    £214
    Reduced NHS costs
    £104
    Reduced absence from work
    £174
    Reduced pollution
    £142
    Reduced congestion
    £414
    Total
    £1,048

    CTC’s list of benefits of cycling to work –

    1. It saves you money – no petrol, tax or parking charges.
    2. It’s twice as fast as a car in rush hour.
    3. It’s efficient.
    4. It’s environmentally friendly.
    5. It keeps you fit and healthy too.

    Posted in Active Travel, Bike Week, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, CTC, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Peak Oil, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »