Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

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

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 »

Government Relies on Spokes Statistics

Posted by chdot on August 5, 2009


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 »

New Midlothian Map

Posted by chdot on July 30, 2009

MidlCover 2009m
The Lothian Cycle Campaign, Spokes, has just published its latest map – a brand new one for Midlothian.

This is first update for seven years. One addition is the recently opened Dalkeith Bypass which slices through Dalkeith Park.

Unfortunately Spokes has also had to add a short section of “proposed cycle link” – from Millerhill to the new road (because Midlothian Council didn’t think about cyclists enough when they were planning the new road).

The map covers all of Midlothian (apart from the extreme southern tip around Soutra). In addition the southern and eastern extremes of Edinburgh are included – plus East Lothian as far as Prestonpans, Pencaitland and Humbie.

The other side of the map has enlarged, detailed, maps of Bilston, Dalkeith, Danderhall, Gorebridge, Lasswade, Loanhead, Mayfield, Newtongrange, Penicuik, Rosewell and Roslin.

PLUS photos and descriptions of some of the many “Places of Interest” in the ‘county of Midlothian’ – which historically included Edinburgh.

In short the map is a must for residents of Midlothian (including Edinburgh) to help you plan commuter or leisure journeys.

Available now in most bike shops and good book shops and on-line (£5.95 post free – or any 4 Spokes maps for the price of 3).

Posted in Active Travel, bike shops, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, holidays, Maps, Midlothian, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Shawfair, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, walking | 1 Comment »

Edinburgh Cyclists Cross Canada

Posted by chdot on July 28, 2009

UPDATE: Euan’s back. BBC story

Euan Hunter
Photo by cyclingtheamericas Photo by Euan Hunter

Two Edinburgh cyclists are currently crossing Canada on solo adventures.

One, Mark Beaumont, is already well known for his 18,000 miles circumnavigation of the globe which ended in February last year. He is currently “Cycling the Americas” from Alaska to Ushuaia in Southern Argentina – which will take him until next February.

By contrast a five week trip from Vancouver to Halifax (due to end this week) may seem simple. However the rider, former Currie High pupil Euan Hunter, has only been 18 for a few days! Cycle Canada 2009 is certainly adventurous and has been eventful.

His mother Cathleen reports: “He’s got sore knees, an ulnar nerve palsy (temporary paralysis of the muscles of his left hand due to prolonged cycling), a few bumps and bruises, bashes on his bike and a dent in his helmet, but he’s still in one piece so far with only a few hundred miles to go.

“He has carried all his own gear and camping most nights.  So far he has had a few adventures, including encounters with mosquitoes, a reindeer and a baby bear!”

Both riders are blogging and twittering. Mark is ahead in the technology stakes with solar panels and a satellite dish + video equipment good enough for making a BBC1 series!

Mark has even taken time to add a comment to Euan’s blog.

Hi Euan

Congratulations on a great ride so far. Well done also on running such an up to date blog – I know how challenging this can be as well as riding the miles each day. I am sure you have met some great people along the way – Canada is such a welcoming country. I am currently in BC, a week from the US border and it is seriously hot in the west! Only 13,000 miles to go! Keep taking on your dreams.

All the best,

Mark Beaumont

Euan has published a list of “My 50 things to do in my lifetime“. He includes the Canadian trip plus “Cycle a leg of the Tour de France”. In addition his ambitions include “Become independant of technology for at least a year” – that might be more of a challenge!

Posted in Active Travel, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, Cycling on TV, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, holidays, ride | Leave a Comment »

Cycle East Lothian – Sea, Art, Food

Posted by chdot on June 2, 2009

3 Harbours Festival
Just east of Edinburgh is East Lothian. A county of contrasts, (once known as Haddingtonshire), it is mostly rural with rich arable on the flatter land near the coast and sheep grazing on the slopes of the Lammermuirs. The extensive coast has a fishing tradition which remains today and also fabulous sandy beaches.

Easy to access with relatively quiet roads away from the main A1 and an hourly stopping train service to North Berwick with room for 6 bikes. (Mainline trains also stop at Dunbar but booking is required). From Longniddry station there is an off road route gently rising on the old branch line to the county town of Haddington. Outside Drem station are country roads that lead to the large, douce, village of Gullane for dunes, sweeping bay, food and golf.

Prestonpans station is close to the coastal settlements that host the 3 Harbours Arts Festival.Which runs from 5th to 14th of June and promises “Art in Unusual Places” in Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton.

“Bigger and better than last year, the festival will bring an abundance of musical talent from the Lothians and Edinburgh, a creative mixture of dance forms including belly dancing and a plethora of visual art. Focusing on art in unusual places; highlights include a tremendous collection of artists in the Cockenzie Power Station, the Primary Schools Seafood Poster competition Prestonpans window trail, the model boats and Boatie Blest and the quirky open houses trail in the heart of Cockenzie and Port Seton. There is definitely something for everyone this year.  Also being served is the new addition to the festival – the Seafood Festival.”

Well worth cycling for.

Some routes on | Cycling info from East Lothian Council

Posted in Active Travel, Art, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, commuting, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Food, holidays, Lothian Buses, Maps, Physical Activity and Health, Spokes maps, Sustrans | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Edinburgh Council Signs Cycle Treaty!

Posted by chdot on May 26, 2009

brussels treaty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Charter ends:

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

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

Posted in Active Travel, Bicycle Film Festival, bike security theft, bike shops, Bike Week, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Exhibition, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, HEALTH, holidays, Lothian Buses, Maps, Meadowbank Velodrome, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking | 2 Comments »

Very Cheap Summer Travel

Posted by chdot on May 1, 2009



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 »

Historic Free Entry to Lothians

Posted by chdot on March 27, 2008

A view from Craigmillar Castle

Once again Historic Scotland is offering a weekend (12th and 13th of April) of free entry to 268 of its 345 properties which span “over 5,000 years of Scotland’s history and culture”.

There was a time when cyclists were notoriously ‘careful with their money’ – or was it that ‘only poor people cycle (or take public transport…)’. Now, cyclists are just sensible

You could just visit Edinburgh Castle, but how about Craigmillar Castle – and then travel east to Dirleton Castle and Gardens and on to Tantallon Castle.

Or cross the Forth and visit Dunfermline Palace (lunch at Abbot House) – and check out Pittencrieff Park (aka “The Glen”). (Last two not HS properties.)

Maybe try a tour of West Lothian taking in Blackness Castle (movie star), Cairnpapple Hill and Linlithgow Palace.

You could organise a ride and make it an official Bike Week ‘preliminary event’. All venue pages on the Historic Scotland site have links to the appropriate part of the Sustrans NCN map.

EDINBURGH AND LOTHIANS properties included in the Free Weekend.

Opening times over the Free Weekend are 09.30 to 17.30 (last admission 17.00) unless otherwise stated. Some of the smaller properties may close over lunchtime.

Blackness Castle
Cairnpapple Hill
Craigmillar Castle
Crichton Castle
Dirleton Castle and Gardens
Edinburgh Castle – open 09.30 to 18.00; last admission 17.15
Linlithgow Palace – last admission 16.45
On Saturday 12 April some parts of the Palace will have restricted access between 11.00 to 13.30 due to a wedding taking place. There will be no car parking at the Palace on that day. To fully enjoy exploring the Palace, visitors are advised to come on Sunday 13 April instead
Seton Collegiate Church
Tantallon Castle
Torphichen Preceptory – open 13.00 to 17.00
Trinity House, Leith – open 12.00 noon to 16.00; last admission 15.30

Posted in ChangingPace, commuting, connect2, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, Edinburgh, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, holidays, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, Safety, Spokes maps, Sustrans, tandem, walking | Leave a Comment »

Clyde to Forth – the Long Way

Posted by chdot on March 23, 2008

Image Sustrans

You may have tried (or just thought about) a day trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Some people have even been both ways in a day! There’s a choice of routes – along the Canals or by road (like the annual Pedal for Scotland ride).

This summer you could try the 5 day, 200 mile, scenic version. Sustrans in Scotland is organising the “Clyde-Tae-Forth” ride as a “pedal-powered adventure”.

Riders will set off from the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow on 9th of June and cross the Tay and Forth – as in “Clyde-Tae-Forth”… They will arrive in Edinburgh just in time for the Bike Week Film Festival.

Participants will be able to ‘trailblaze’ proposed routes between Perth and Kinross. After each day’s ride there will be talks and presentations from leading environmental and wildlife organisations, including a guided woodland walk with the Forestry Commission Scotland.

Clyde-Tae-Forth will also pass two of the Scottish schemes included in Sustrans’ Connect2 project, which won the Big Lottery Fund’s The People’s £50 Million contest in December 2007. In Glasgow riders will see the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’, a half-finished walking and cycling bridge over the M8 motorway in the centre of the city, and in Perth the ride will stop at the site of a new walking and cycling bridge over the River Tay which will connect Perth and Scone.

John Lauder, Sustrans National Director for Scotland, is keen for people to join the ride and “see Scotland in a different light”. He said: “The Clyde-Tae-Forth ride is a fun way for people to explore the landscape, heritage and culture of this region of Scotland – with stunning views from the saddle guaranteed. It’s going to be an exciting ride, especially with the added adventure of trailblazing a possible new route and visiting the Connect2 schemes to see the real difference better facilities for cyclists and walkers will make.”

The event is expected to be extremely popular and with only 100 spaces for the full five day ride, cyclists are “urged to register early”. Each overnight stop is £30, which includes ride organisation, maps, camping accommodation, a light breakfast, luggage transfer and a special edition ride t-shirt. Those not wanting to take part in the full ride are welcome to join in for day rides – the cost is £10 for a guided ride, map and special edition ride t-shirt.

Booking for Sustrans’ Clyde-Tae-Forth ride closes on 28th May 2008. Anyone interested in booking a place on the full ride, or joining in for a day section, contact Sustrans’ Events Team on 0117 915 0125 or

Posted in Bicycle Film Festival, Bike Week, bikeweek, Climate Change, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, Glasgow, HEALTH, holidays, paths, Peak Oil, Queensferry, ride, Safe Routes to School, Sustrans | 1 Comment »

New Easter Holiday Cycle Club

Posted by chdot on March 14, 2008

A brand new Cycle Club is being run in the Easter holiday. It’s for Primary 6 and 7 pupils with the aim of encouraging young people to cycle more and to think about how they will travel to secondary school.

The venue is the Royal High School and priority is being given to pupils from its feeder primaries (Blackhall, Cramond, Clermiston and Davidsons Mains).

The four day event will run from Monday 31 March to Thursday 3 April, from 9.30am to 3pm each day.

The sessions have been organised by Maggie Wynn of ChangingPace, an Edinburgh organisation which specialises in promoting cycling, and will be delivered by qualified cycle trainers.

The course will develop cycling and bike maintenance skills at the school and also on rides each day along Edinburgh’s cycle path network and quiet roads. Education and fun – as would be expected from people who recently developed and delivered Bicycle Fun Days at the same primaries.

The cost for the 4 days is £50, and the children will receive a goody bag worth £10 that includes a Spokes cycle map, puncture repair kit and water bottle.

Places limited – to reserve a place call Maggie Wynn now on 0131 332 3442 or 07914 727018 or email

Posted in ChangingPace, citycycling, Core Path Network, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, holidays, paths, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes maps, Sustrans, TryCycling | Leave a Comment »