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Another Report

Posted by chdot on February 23, 2010

Yesterday the Department for Transport launched its Active Travel Strategy (along with the Department of Health – under the Change4Life ‘brand’). The 64 page document is full of good stuff – current activities and future aims.

Though the CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen has already said: “The Active Travel Strategy is a supportive statement of warm words about cycling. Unfortunately, it cannot deliver the massive step-change in cycle use that it recommends alone. CTC wants government departments to tell us what they are going to do and spend to make this happen. To tackle obesity, climate change and congested roads we need more than a homily to the humble bike; we need an action plan with pound signs attached.” (Press release)

Generally DfT proposals like this don’t apply to Scotland, so it’s good to see the following –

1.16 Although this is a strategy for England, we are working closely with the devolved administrations to ensure that we can share best practice and promote measures that support our shared objectives.

Below are some other edited highlights.

Our vision for active travel

1.1 Cycling and walking are great for health and accessibility, and when replacing journeys by car they can also reduce congestion and emissions. We want to see more people cycling and walking more often and more safely. With about two-thirds of the journeys we make under five miles, we believe walking and cycling should be an everyday way of getting around.

1.2 We have, however, amongst the lowest levels of cycling and walking in Europe. We need to turn that around, so that we can reap the benefits which other countries have achieved through active travel for individuals, business and the wider economy.

The National Cycle Plan: the Decade of Cycling

So why is the Netherlands so different from England?

1.12 Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not the weather – annual rainfall in Amsterdam is higher than it is in Manchester, and it’s colder in winter. The answer is more that central and local government in the Netherlands have consistently integrated cycling into transport and planning decisions for decades to create an environment and culture where cycling is the natural choice for many journeys.

1.13 For decades, like the UK, cycling levels in the Netherlands were declining as car use grew. In response to the oil crises of the 1970s, amongst other things, the Netherlands took a conscious decision to develop planning and transport policies that favoured cycling over the car. Since then cycling has remained at the heart of planning and transport policies.

1.14 The Netherlands is not, however, an isolated example. Around the world, major cities are waking up to the potential of walking and cycling. In Copenhagen 36% of trips to work or school are cycled and by 2015 they aim to increase this to 50%. Paris launched its innovative and popular Velib cycle-hire scheme in 2007. London is following suit with its own scheme in Summer 2010, and is planning a network of cycle superhighways. And elsewhere in the UK places as diverse as Cambridge and Hull have successfully reached or maintained high cycling levels.

1.15 Even in the USA, where for so long the car has been perceived as king, the New York Department of Transportation has recently completed a three- year programme of cycling measures that added 200 miles of bike lanes and seen a 45% increase in commuting by bike, while the ‘Plaza Programme’ has enabled not-for-profit organisations to apply to re-claim streets that are underused by vehicles to turn them into vibrant pedestrian plazas.

Safety

2.10 Our roads are now among the safest in the world, but cyclists and pedestrians remain particularly vulnerable road users. Aside from the effect that casualties have on individuals and their families, pedestrian and cyclist casualties are a significant burden on local health services. Furthermore, safety concerns are often cited as a reason why people do not cycle or, for example, allow children to walk to school meaning that they are missing the opportunity to do more physical activity and improve their health.

5.2 DfT already provides over £1.3bn capital funding per year for small-scale transport improvement and maintenance programmes – alongside Formula Grant from Dept of Communities and Local Government – but historically local authorities have chosen to spend relatively little of this on supporting active travel. Where investment has been made, too often this has been in a piecemeal fashion rather than integrated effectively into a wider sustainable transport plan and co-ordinated with health and social objectives. This means that we are not realising the full potential of active travel to reduce local area carbon emissions and help the UK meet its climate change targets.

5.3 In an increasingly budget-constrained world, Local authorities will have to do more with less, focusing on low-cost, high value measures that can support a number of objectives. With new Local Area Agreements and Local Transport Plans due to start in April 2011, the latter looking as far as 25 years ahead, there is an unmissable opportunity for health and transport professionals to work together to make sure cycling and walking are a core part of their area’s plans.

Getting the built environment right

“We need to remember that however people reach town centres, the main purpose of their journey – shopping, meeting friends, sightseeing – is actually achieved on foot. Yet too many of our streets and urban spaces have been given over to road traffic, at the expense of pedestrians and deliveries and we need to restore the balance for town centres to prosper.”

Getting Into Town: A guide for improving town centre accessibility.

British Retail Consortium

5.11 Cycle and pedestrian facilities are a cost effective way of meeting sustainable travel and accessibility objectives of new developments, and should be a priority for local planning authorities when considering agreements with developers. Engagement between planners and developers at an early stage will make it easier and more cost

5.14 Many towns and cities – for example Oxford and Portsmouth – have already introduced 20mph speed limits across residential streets. DfT has committed to revising its guidance to local authorities to encourage them to introduce over time 20 mph limits or zones into their streets which are of a primarily residential nature and in streets where pedestrian flows are particularly high, such as around shops or schools where they are not part of any major through route. Our ambition is to see local authorities introduce 20mph zones and limits into more residential streets.

Actually Edinburgh has been quite good at this, the challenge now is to extend the speed limit to some (all?) ‘main’ roads that are also shopping streets. The fact that many are also tenemented clearly means that they are “residential” but the longstanding perception is that they are “roads” and the free flow of (motor) traffic is the most important thing.

5.24 High quality training in how to walk and cycle safely puts people at less risk on our roads than those who have not had such training. Kerbcraft improves children’s skills and confidence when crossing roads, and Bikeability gives them the skills and confidence to use the road safely on foot and by bike. Local authorities should make training a core part of promoting safe, active travel.”

That last sentence is most welcome to anyone who has tried to get cycling training taken more seriously by the Council in Edinburgh.

At present the official line is to “ensure the Scottish Cycle Training Scheme resources and practical training is promoted in every school, particularly in areas of deprivation and promote adult cycle training city-wide.

But “promoted” is not enough. It has to be DELIVERED in every school. It needs to be in school time and for all pupils. At present only three Edinburgh primaries do all in pupils in a year group (P6 or P7) in school time – as part of the curriculum. This could change with the  Curriculum for Excellence – “Sorry, no results were found for “cycle training” in Curriculum for Excellence.”

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Curriculum for Excellence, cycle parking, cycle training, cyclestreets.net, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, DfT, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Forth Bridge Route Campaign, HEALTH, Maps, openstreetmap, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking | 2 Comments »

Snow on the Tracks (Help Please)

Posted by chdot on January 21, 2010


It’s nearly two weeks since the thaw set in, so it’s surprising/disappointing to find that there is hard-packed snow forming a slippery surface on a walk/cycle path that is a key link to a primary school.

But it’s not just ‘minor’ paths – even the mighty Innocent is untouched by council staff.

Over on CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum these and others are being recorded – do YOU have any to add? Photos a bonus but not essential.

Please also add paths that were untreated, even if snow has now melted.

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cyclestreets.net, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, Maps, openstreetmap, paths, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes maps, TryCycling, walking | Leave a Comment »

Councillors Rejected Gritting Plan

Posted by chdot on January 13, 2010


In November officials in the Council’s City Development Department submitted proposals to councillors that, if approved, would have meant that the city’s main cycle commuting (and leisure) routes would be added to the priority gritting list.

Purpose of report

1 To advise the Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee of the results of the review into increasing the scope of treatment to the roads and pavements in Edinburgh to include the main off-road cycle paths in the city and to advise of the potential cost of such treatment.”

Currently only Middle Meadow Walk is on any priority list – “Pavement Category 2” which means being dealt with ‘when resources permit’ – in spite of being a major walk/cycle route with a continuous slope at the north end.

Councillors were told that “the additional cost of treatment would be between £ 70,000 -£100,000 for which there is no current budget provision.” Presumably this included some capital spending rather than just salt and labour(?)

Councillors, not supplied with crystal balls to predict the last few weeks, decided that this was too much money to find.

If you disagree – particularly if you have experienced dangerous paths due to ice or frozen ‘tramlines’, or had the experience of being forced into roadside slush by impatient motorists – you might like to contact the Chair of the TIEC Gordon Mackenzie and/or your local councillors.

Comments on CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum

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

New On-line Forum for Edinburgh

Posted by chdot on November 19, 2009

CyclingEdinburgh.info and CityCycling (the Edinburgh based monthly on-line cycling magazine) have teamed up to create CityCyclingEdinburgh.info – a new forum “for people who cycle in and around Edinburgh” (though a wider view is welcome).

The idea is to create a site where any aspect of cycling (and particularly encouraging more of it) can be ‘discussed’, questions asked – and answered.

Various forum headings have been created but they are not definitive. The forum is designed to develop as more people register and post (including you? – please tell your friends). Anyone can view but registration needed before posting – just a username and e-mail (not publicly revealed).

Rules are simple “No personal insults. No swearing”. That’s working so far.

Posted in Active Travel, citycycling, Climate Change, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle racing, cycle training, cyclestreets.net, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, ERC, HEALTH, Maps, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling | 3 Comments »

Cycle Speedway Action Retry

Posted by chdot on November 5, 2009


Last Sunday’s planned cycle speedway open session was severely rained off. The track was only suitable for seagulls.

Edinburgh Falcons will be hoping for better weather this Sunday (8th) – currently (Friday morning) the forecast is quite promising.

If it’s not raining too much why not ride along to Redbraes and take part (bikes and equipment provided) or watch the fun.

“Start time is 1pm with a registration period open from 12:30pm”

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Core Path Network, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, ERC, openstreetmap, paths, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safety | 4 Comments »

Try Speedway on Sunday

Posted by chdot on October 26, 2009

Robert Bandoszs


Photo of new Falcons signing 19 year-old Polish rider
Robert Bandosz

Scotland’s only cycle speedway team Edinburgh Falcons is staging an open session at the Redbraes Park track (Broughton Road by the Powderhall refuse depot MAP) on Sunday (1st November).

The event is “primarily aimed at attracting new riders to Cycle Speedway”. Registration from 12:30pm with events starting at 1pm.

In recent years the Falcons have raced in a UK league, but for the 2010 season the plan is to concentrate on the local league and developing more young riders – including some who turned up to the fun event earlier this year.

The session is open to all ages and all equipment will be supplied. Fast, furious and fun – if you don’t fancy racing it’s great to watch.

Posted in City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Core Path Network, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, paths, Physical Activity and Health, ride | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Professor Criticises Council Practices

Posted by chdot on October 25, 2009


Photo blackpuddinonnabike

Writing in today’s Sunday Herald, Edinburgh University professor Michael S Northcott mentions the ‘cycle facility’ near his office.

“..when the new Missoni Hotel was opened earlier this year the cycle lane was ditched in favour of a publicly provided parking bay for the hotel and two lanes for motorists.”

It’s been like this since May. After lots of protests by locals and cyclists, the Council ‘promised’ to do something, that was in June.

Michael Northcott’s article says a few other things about the environment in Edinburgh.

“..the city council continues to favour speeding cars over slow pedestrians. At many junctions pedestrians have to walk hundreds of feet corralled by metal cages to designated crossing points away from their direction of travel.”

But it’s not just Edinburgh that’s mentioned in the Sunday Herald’s “Essay of the Week” which highlights Governments’ and other organisations’ confusion and hypocrisy over Climate Change and economic growth.

“The Scottish Government recently built one of the world’s most expensive pieces of motorway – an extension to the M74 – against strong local opposition, through a housing scheme to the east of Glasgow. The road raises noise and pollution for local residents to unhealthy levels and significantly reduces the quality of their environment. But it enables drivers who don’t live in the area to traverse it at 70mph on yet another fast motorway through the environs of Glasgow, a city already strewn with urban motorways.”

Posted in Active Travel, 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, Glasgow, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, Sustrans, technology, Trams, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | 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 »

Super?

Posted by chdot on October 12, 2009

superhighway


Still from video
of video

A few days in London confirm that cycling is ‘hot’. Cycle commuting is rampant – multi-colours of Bromptons, monotones of yellow jackets, obsessions of speed.

Many examples of fashion on wheels – one gear wonders (a lot of London is fairly flat), and plenty of retro/traditional styling – from ‘Europe’ or England. In truth, some of this is concentrated in trendy/studenty parts of the city.

Transport for London has an overview of Public Transport, the Congestion Charge and also cycling. With millions of people travelling daily it’s a big job and comes with a relatively big budget. The Cycling section of the tfl site is useful. You can order any (or all) of the 14 free cycle maps.

The ‘next big things’ are Cycle Hire – a variation on the Paris Vélib’ – and the Superhighway. Both due to arrive next summer.

Edinburgh is thinking about its own Vélib’ variation and also plans to spend £150k on a “corridor”.

The London Superhighway plan is reasonably ambitious, though not without its critics (LCC demands Cycle Super-highways, not superficial highways). It’s not going to turn London into Copenhagen any time soon.

The most obvious feature is that the lanes will be BLUE. and there is a ‘promise’ for a minimum width of 1 1/2 metres. In addition the blue won’t stop at junctions and the surface is planned to be “smooth” with some remedial actions before the new tarmac is laid.

tfl regards this as revolutionary and has good reason to encourage cycling – basically it’s cheap. It keeps people out of their cars, reducing congestion and making bus services more reliable. It also reduces pressure on the tube.

In Edinburgh ‘transport’ is mostly the responsibility of the Council. At present much thought and money is being spent on trying to get the Tram on track. Unfortunately too many councillors and officials seem agree with the the new RAC Boss that cycling is a ‘niche mode of travel’ (which should therefore be ignored). Hard to imagine an Edinburgh councillor replacing Boris on a banner like this.

Perhaps when the tram is finished things will be different – but the planning needs to be started sooner. Perhaps Superhighway Blue could be used on Marchmont Road to replace Fading Red.

Cycling
Edinburgh has a wide network of on and off-street cycle facilities. Throughout the Tram works cycling remains an effective way of getting around the city, offering easy parking irrespective of roadworks.” (From EdinburghTrams.com)

Posted in Active Travel, bike shops, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, technology, Trams, walking | Leave a Comment »

Meet the Cycling Author

Posted by chdot on October 4, 2009

Chris Hoy book

Edinburgh sports journalist and bike book writer Richard Moore will be live at the Portobello Book Festival on Saturday.

The fact that he raced himself (including being in Scotland’s 1998 Commonwealth Games team) has greatly helped him with insights into the top riders he has written about.

His first book was about the great, enigmatic, Scottish, Tour de France stage winner Robert Millar. In Search of Robert Millar was far from authorised, Robert could reasonably be described as a recluse – though he did answer some of Richard’s e-mailed questions. The result won Best Biography in the 2008 British Sports Book Awards.

His second book was about another top level Scottish racer, with a much higher public profile. Heroes, Villains and Velodromes: Chris Hoy and Britain’s Track Cycling Revolution chronicled the story of a BMX boy’s development into a medal winning trackman. It was published in 2008, and was very much a ‘story in progress’ and included the eye witnessed report of Chris’ trip to Bolivia in pursuit of the 1Km record.

Entertaining new video (made from stills) has recently appeared on the web.

Clearly Chris liked the book enough to tell his tales to Richard for a brand new book. (Words by Chris, tidying up by Richard.)

Officially published on the 15th Chris Hoy: the Autobiography is expected to be available at Richard’s free talk in Portobello Library (3.00 – 4.30 Sat. 10th Oct). Tickets available in advance from the Library (max. 2 per person).

Posted in Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, cycle racing, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, Edinburgh, Meadowbank Velodrome, Physical Activity and Health, ride | 1 Comment »