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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 »

New Cycle Map

Posted by chdot on May 14, 2008


The latest map from Spokes is a new edition of the East Lothian one [buy on-line]. It’s a revised version of the original 2003 one. One noticeable addition is the controversial Dalkeith Bypass [A68] – mostly in Midlothian – due to open later this year.

At the northern end, the map marks a “proposed cycle link”. One useful feature of Spokes maps is the ability to highlight improvements that could be made. This particular one was identified by Spokes members.

It’s just a shame that the people who plan roads (this one has been on the go for at least ten years) aren’t as aware of low cost measures that might encourage cycling and, perhaps, reduce the need for even more roads. Maybe that is why useful alternatives aren’t investigated and provided…

Spokes has also made the covers of all its Newsletters and Bulletins available on-line. A fascinating snapshot of 30 years of campaigning. The summer 2008 edition will be the one hundredth! To mark this milestone, there will be an exhibition of the leaflets and other items in the Central Library on George IV Bridge.

Posted in Active Travel, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Exhibition, Maps, Midlothian, ride, Safety, Shawfair, Spokes, Spokes maps | 1 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 »

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 »

Cycle Action at QM

Posted by chdot on December 4, 2007


The new Queen Margaret University next to Musselburgh Station already has a reasonable number of cycle commuters. Now some of them are hoping to encourage some more and are also hoping for improvements to the routes to the campus and its on-site facilities.

There’s a covered row of racks near the main entrance and showers and changing rooms available. The cycle path from Newcraighall is due to get solar powered streetlights and a better surface, in places, over the Christmas holidays.

Tomorrow (Wednesday December the 5th) there’s a meeting at 12.30 in Room 55. Organisers Oonagh O’Brien (Institute International Health and Development) and Matt McClatchy (Podiatry student and Security) are inviting “anyone interested in cycling (experienced or returning/would-be cyclists) to an inaugural meeting of a new QMU cycling group. You may be a student, in administration, registry, security, academic staff, senior management, estates and facilities, all are welcome.”

They have the following suggestions for discussions:

* to support all cyclists travelling to QM,

* to ensure people know how the bike-to-work scheme works,

* think about some new systems in the university, for example spare puncture kits in building etc,

* to share skills, knowledge about routes, bike shops, support or buddy new cyclists,

* to ensure on going development of facilities at QM (improve the shower/changing rooms and learn more about the green travel policy)

* Link to Spokes, TryCycling in Edinburgh and other lobbying groups re general cycling issues – improving roads/paths/travel by train etc.

There’s a lot of potential to improve existing routes and create new ones. The campus is in East Lothian – but only just. Newcraighall is in Edinburgh and Midlothian is just across the road (bypass).

‘Cross border’ cycle routes are being developed. SEStran recent put money into a few. With development likely in the Shawfair/South East Wedge area due in the the next few years, there will need to be more.

Posted in Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, HEALTH, paths, Shawfair, Spokes maps, Sustrans, TryCycling | 1 Comment »

Consultation on Midlothian Core Paths Plan Ends Today

Posted by chdot on October 26, 2007

Midlothian core paths
Unlike Edinburgh, which is allowing three months (details), Midlothian Council has only allowed a month to comment on its Core Path plans. Officially the last day is today, though there is a mention on the web site of the 28th (Sunday). There will be another 3 month formal consultation period next year.

Midlothian has conveniently carved up its domain into chunks. Each one is a PDF of around 1Mb. So if you have an interest in walk/cycle routes in parts of the county it would be worth a quick look – comments can be sent by e-mail to james.kinch@midlothian.gov.uk.

Midlothian is not alone in not paying much attention to cross boundary links. Given the number of people who work in Edinburgh but live outside, this is disappointing. Many people would like a convenient (and safe) route into the city from the Dalkeith area. It is therefore a pity that there are no ‘aspirational’ dots in the area north of Dalkeith.

This is particularly surprising as it is the area that used to be known as the South East Wedge where the new settlement of Shawfair is due to be created sometime.

“Boarding the train at Waverley you know you will be home soon, having left the car at home, you can avoid the evening rush hour. Fifteen minutes later you see children racing each other, having fun, on the cycleway near Whitehill Mains as you approach Shawfair Station.” (Source)

That station will be the first new one in Midlothian for many years, built as part of the Waverley Railway Project (due to be completed in 2011). It would be good if a parallel walk/cycle path could be built (Sustrans’ proposals) allowing a relatively flat route to be created. This could connect with the Millerhill to Loanhead route that Sustrans plans for the former railway line which Midlothian acknowledges as a “Candidate Core Path” on map 5 but not map 1. This route is already well used between Loanhead and Roslin over the magnificent Bilston Glen Viaduct.

Midlothian has decided that it “cannot put aspirational routes on the Draft Core Paths Plan unless they will be on the ground within the next two years.” Obviously putting lines on a map that are ‘possible/maybe’ can be counterproductive, but for something as important as the (statutory) Core Path process, perhaps two years is artificially short.

Posted in Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, connect2, Core Path Network, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Midlothian, Shawfair, Spokes, Sustrans | 1 Comment »

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 »

Forestry Goes Local

Posted by chdot on May 11, 2007

FC cyclescheme.jpg
The Forestry Commission has staff throughout Great Britain – from its Corstorphine HQ to some of the more remote and beautiful parts of the countryside.

In recent years it has perhaps become better know for its Forest Trails (“we now have over 2600 kilometres of waymarked cycle trails in our forests, featuring some of the best off road cycling in Britain”), than its timber production. It also (especially in Scotland) has some of the best Mountain Bike courses in the world. Many Edinburgh cyclists have already experienced Glentress.

Now FC staff can acquire bikes using the tax efficient ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme. The Commission has signed up with Cyclescheme, a company started by people with experience of running bike shops. Cyclescheme works with local independent shops as “partners” – there are nine in Edinburgh. Cyclescheme deals with the paperwork and employees get the chance to buy the bike of their dreams from the shop of their choice.As the FC’s Human Resources newsletter says “if your local retailer is not on the list they can register on the website.”

Many large employers – especially ones that operate across many sites – have signed up with the scheme operated by Halfords. It’s good to see a large employer encouraging cycling and being prepared to offer a scheme that gives staff a wider choice of where they can source their new ‘ride to work’ machine.

Posted in citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, HEALTH, paths, ride, Shawfair | 1 Comment »

End of Trams?

Posted by chdot on May 5, 2007

tram + bike
Interesting times. The Scottish Parliament now has only one Independent – Edinburgh’s own Margo MacDonald – and two Greens (including their very first MSP, former Edinburgh teacher Robin Harper), five fewer than before. The Council has three Greens (up from zero) and twelve SNP Councillors (previously one). This may merely reflect the fact that the Council was elected by proportional representation for the first time and Labour is also relatively unpopular at present.

One policy where the SNP is at odds with all the other parties on City of Edinburgh Council – and which may have helped it pick up votes – is the provision of trams. The SNP clearly campaigned with the promise that if it gained power in the Scottish Parliament it would scrap Edinburgh’s ‘expensive’ tram plans. They now have a month to create a coalition (or try to govern alone as the party with the greatest number of seats – one more than Labour).

Generally environmental and cycling groups are in favour of trams as they would provide good quality public transport. In some parts of the world they are successfully persuading people to abandon their cars for many journeys. Lothian cycle campaign Spokes, took a decision to back trams in spite of unease about the loss of the Roseburn Corridor in its present form. Spokes had secured guarantees that if a tram line were built from Haymarket to the Waterfront on the former railway line, a walk/cycle path would be created alongside – though this would not be useable while construction work was proceeding.

Planned changes to this leafy part of the North Edinburgh Cycle Network were too much for some people who resigned from Spokes. The reluctance of the Council’s transport company tie to enthusiastically embrace the idea of carrying bikes on trams and, more importantly, to plan properly to accommodate cycling along Princes Street, has not endeared it to some people who would like to be more enthusiastic about the idea of trams.

IF the SNP still wishes to stop the tram schemes (and deal with any contractual issues) there will be money available for spending elsewhere. SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill who is now the Member for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh (previously a Lothian List MSP) may be a key player. Last year he was calling for a referendum. “Council taxpayers in Edinburgh are entitled to a vote on whether or not they want their hard-earned money spent on trams and to be paying for them for decades to come.” In spite of some vociferous opposition, it is far from certain that people in Edinburgh would vote against tram plans.

IF the trams are cancelled (with or without a referendum) it is important that the money is not just transferred into other ‘BIG Projects’ – road building or a new high speed rail line to Glasgow. Smaller scale projects, such as re-opening Edinburgh’s South Suburban Line (which runs through MacAskill’s new constituency) to passengers, would be more useful. Smaller scale projects improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians and providing universally available Cycle Training for primary school pupils would be highly cost effective (and socially and environmentally beneficial). ‘Safe Routes to School’ should also be a basic part of a rational transport/Active Travel policy. Kenny MacAskill was the SNP’s first Transport Spokesman in the Scottish Parliament (1999). At that time he was a parent at Sciennes Primary which was a highly effective ‘Safe Routes’ pioneer in Edinburgh and he took a keen interest in ‘Safe Routes’ issues.

But most things will still be decided and implemented locally. The make-up of the coalition may be decided behind closed doors this weekend (Evening News story). Three former councillors who had expected to be re-elected, are Trevor Davies (high profile, and sometimes controversial, Planning chairman), Sue Tritton (keen on recycling and reducing light pollution from street lights) and Lawrence Marshall (Public Transport campaigner – especially on rail). Their expertise will be missed.

More than half of Edinburgh’s new councillors are new to the Council, (you now have three or four depending which ward you are in). They will no doubt need helpful advice on what should be done to make life better for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users – who are NOT three distinct groups of people.

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, critical mass, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, paths, Safe Routes to School, Shawfair, Spokes, Sustrans, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Rail Realities

Posted by chdot on April 18, 2007

Transform Scotland Rail Report
Just ahead of an election when politicians are promising the earth (or just ways of saving it…) it’s good to see people concerned with rational reality.

Although the new report (PDF) from TRANSform Scotland doesn’t mention bikes or cycling it’s an important document for anyone interested in ‘sustainable’ transport.

Once again politicians and interest groups are talking up the idea of a brand new high speed link between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Nothing will ever be as fast as broadband. Face to face meetings can (often) be just as effective by video link. Free WiFi on ScotRail (not just in First Class) would be a cheaper way to ‘increase productivity’ for those who ‘have to’ commute.

TRANSform says “The fantasy of a ‘bullet train’ taking twelve minutes should remain just that – the new infrastructure for ‘Maglev’ type hovertrains would be enormously expensive and very destructive of the urban fabric unless long sections were put in tunnel. Ultra-highspeed trains are highly energy-intensive, and need vast amounts of new traffic to justify their existence thereby creating the danger of increasing rather than reducing overall CO2 levels from transport. A multi-billion pound, entirely new route is simply not required to get substantial reductions in journey time from the current 48 minutes down towards 30 minutes.”

As well as proposing cost-effective moves such as re-opening Edinburgh’s South Suburban Line to passengers, (an ever running saga), TRANSform makes sensible suggestions about tourism.

“Scotland’s rural routes need a distinctive approach. Many of them depend on tourism and leisure travel, yet the trains provided are standard designs used for suburban services in the Central Belt. Unlike the situation in Switzerland, our scenic routes have no special panoramic railcars aimed at the tourist, and too many of the Highland lines are saddled with worka-day Class 158 units with poor window views, badly designed toilets and a cramped atmosphere.”

The potential for ‘low impact’ tourism in Scotland is MASSIVE. There are good Sustrans routes in many places. Local Authorities are developing Core Path Networks. The Forestry Commission is building mountain bike trails. Though in spite of the fact that taking bikes on trains is free (booking sometimes required) most are transported by car. Somehow the idea of “Green Tourism” hasn’t got much further than low energy light bulbs and whether people are willing to use the same hotel towel two days running….

Posted in Airdrie to Bathgate, Bikes on trains, BikeStation, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, cycle parking, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, holidays, paths, ride, Shawfair, sswc07, Sustrans, walking | 2 Comments »