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Archive for the ‘What the papers say’ Category

What Should be Done with Princes Street?

Posted by chdot on December 14, 2009

Princes Street re-opened to bikes and buses two weeks ago. There have been quite a few cyclists grounded by encounters with the tram tracks. One early one was caught on video and sent to You Tube and resulted in Evening News and BBC stories.

Yesterday training was held on the section that is still coned off but there are still no warning signs or road markings to alert people to the dangers. One improvement would be a new Advance Stop Line at the junction with Waverley Bridge.

Discussion on CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum

Posted in Active Travel, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle training, cyclestreets.net, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, Lothian Buses, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, Safety, Spokes, Trams, What the papers say | 1 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 »

Government Relies on Spokes Statistics

Posted by chdot on August 5, 2009

SPICe

UPDATE: A civil servant has suggested that the headline should say “Holyrood Relies on Spokes Statistics”. “Cycling in Scotland” is produced by the Scottish Parliament not the Scottish Government. It’s assumed that the report’s author looked for statistics from the SG first. It’s also assumed that the SG relies on the best available statistics. If there are better statistics than those compiled by Spokes, Spokes would be keen to have them.

SPICe, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, has published a concise briefing document titled “Cycling in Scotland”. Many of the statistics quoted have come from Spokes (The Lothian  Cycle Campaign).

Not only does it indicate that Spokes’ surveys of spending on cycling in Scotland are regarded as comprehensive/accurate, it also suggests that no-one in Government is keeping their own tally!

The figures have been compiled for many years by Dave du Feu who has doggedly dealt with Local Authorities – collecting survey answers and compiling the results (and interpreting where necessary). Most Scottish LAs supply information. Getting details from the Government is more difficult.

As “Cycling in Scotland” indicates

Transport Scotland told SPOKES that it was impossible to disentangle the cycle element of trunk road expenditure, but later told Mike Pringle MSP that it amounted to £2m for financial year 2007-2008, so it is assumed that this amount is spent each year on cycle related projects”

This is a footnote from the detailed table produced by Spokes, but its inclusion in this briefing document is significant. As Spokes reports on its own web site “The Spice Research Briefings are intended as impartial documents to inform MSPs and others involved in the work of the Scottish Parliament. They are independent research publications for the entire Parliament, not decided by or controlled by the party which is in government.”

Overall “Cycling in Scotland” is useful background information for MSPs, campaigners and anyone interested in encouraging more people to cycle. Usefully it distinguishes between the two key areas of cycling as they relate to Government policies –

Cycling takes two main forms:

• a form of transport

• a sport, including track and road cycling, mountain biking, BMX, cycle speedway and cyclo-cross

and explains:

This short briefing focuses on cycling as a form of transport. It outlines the legislative and policy framework governing cycling, identifies key organisations and provides cycling related statistics. It goes on to look at sources of funding for cycling projects and the national cycle network.”

This is a useful division and highlights the convention that cycling is either ‘transport’ or ‘sport’. However it is likely that in future a third division will be necessary/desirable.

It is increasingly being recognised that exercise is necessary for good health – physical and mental. There’s a lot of discussion about diet and obesity. Chris Hoy is “Scotland’s first ambassador for mental health“. But money for ‘cycling’ largely comes from ‘transport’ or ‘sport’.

It is quite reasonable to encourage people to cycle to school, shops, work etc. and (as much as possible) record statistics for this, but it probably largely misses the people who cycle for a bit of exercise or to take their kids along a cycle path to the swing park – or just for the fun of cycling!

More importantly the emphasis on ‘transport’ and ‘sport’ perhaps makes it harder to get to people (statistically the majority) who hardly ever cycle – and get the funding to try to encourage them to cycle.

Cycling in Scotland highlights the CAPS (Cycle Action Plan Scotland) process. This is a comprehensive look at ways to increase cycling in Scotland. (YOU can contribute until the 20th of August.) This paragraph outlines some of the intentions

3. For people to have the confidence and the right information to make cycling a realistic choice for some journeys: Provide access to adult and child cycle training and cycle maintenance courses with well trained instructors. Promote the bike-to-work scheme and encourage employers and education providers to become cycle friendly. Produce cycle network maps and an online cycle journey planner.

“Cycling in Scotland” also manages to highlight Spokes’ concerns about funding and future commitment to funding.

Unusually, the CAPS consultation draft was launched without a Scottish Government press release or ministerial statement. Perhaps as a consequence of this, there has been almost no media interest or public comment by stakeholders. However, from what comment there has been it seems that the policy intentions of the consultation draft of CAPS have been welcomed, although concerns have been raised about whether they are backed by sufficient funding. For example Dave du Feu, lead organiser for SPOKES, has stated that “There’s good stuff in the action plan but if they’re not going to spend anything until 2011 – and even then there’s no guarantee that they will – I can’t see it making any difference” (The Herald 2009)

Perhaps the time has come to look beyond ‘transport’ or ‘sport’ for funding. Aren’t ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’ the main responsibilities of the NHS?

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He Didn’t Mention Cycling

Posted by chdot on July 9, 2009

pc
UPDATE – TEXT OF SPEECH  NOW ONLINE

The sight of a well heeled, white, Western, very conservatively dressed man hardly conveys the impression of eco/class warrior or radical anti-capitalist.

Prince Charles’ appearance on last night’s Dimbleby Lecture will have reassured some and turned off others.

But it’s the words that count. They were delivered with the assurance of a well practiced public speaker who actually knows his script and believes what he is saying.

He has advisers (including Jonathon Porritt) and no doubt the 50 minute lecture was not written solely by Charles. However many hands were involved behind the scenes the result was a well crafted, and wide ranging summary of the issues facing the natural world and the role of the human population involved in it.

The delivery was confident, the passion mostly hidden, though he clearly cares about the loss of the rain forests – pointing out that the Greenhouse Gas consequences are greater than those caused by all the world’s transport.

There were wry references to a genetic interest in architecture (and the trouble it has caused him). The tone and content was about questioning the apparent assumption of “business as usual”. He pointed out that “there can’t be capitalism without capital” and added that ultimately all capital comes from the earth whether as raw materials or food (etc.) derived from sunlight/plants.

He reminded his audience (mostly white, well dressed and not particularly young) that he had previously warned that ‘we’ had 100 months to make changes or there was a serious chance of irreversible (and undesirable) Climate Change. He told the audience that it was now 96 months.

But it wasn’t just a call for a return to a simpler life where pubs and post offices were still open. He talked about how such “community capital”items and the value of people interacting was not just difficult to measure, but also largely unmeasured, in a world primarily concerned with GDP. He called for ‘balance’ and argued for a marriage of older ‘values’ and new technologies which he sees as the best way forward.

Prince Charles has been seen on a bike in the past, but the photographic evidence has previously been used to mock his ‘greeny’ interests.

Catch the lecture for 7 days on iPlayer

Mobile version

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, Climate Change, Cycling News, Cycling on TV, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, EducatedTravel, Peak Oil, technology, 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 »

It CAN be done

Posted by chdot on June 5, 2009

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphias
It’s only two weeks since City of Edinburgh Council signed the Treaty of Brussels which ‘committed’ it to making cycling account for 15% of journeys by 2020. It’s a fabulously ambitious target, but not impossible

Since then the Council has been backtracking a bit and is talking about it being “aspirational”.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia reports that “bicycling in Philadelphia has doubled over the past three years” (press release). A long report in the local citypaper refers to some of the things that the city has done: –  Over the years it has increased the number and mileage of bike paths and lanes . New Mayor Michael Nutter, “who ran as a bike-friendly candidate, has directed the Planning Commission to develop the city’s first comprehensive bike plan. He also made good on a campaign promise to hire the city’s first-ever bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, a position many other large cities have had for years.”.

Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia says “Bike lanes are the single biggest reason for the doubling of biking in this city. What European cities taught us is that you need to build a network, not just a trail, that is a functional system of transportation.”

citypaper writer Isaiah Thompson adds “Right now, Philadelphia has about 200 miles of bike lanes. That’s not bad, but the so-called “bicycle network” is incomplete and fragmented. There are gaps, lanes to nowhere, mysterious disappearing ghost lanes, the infamous lineless lanes along Columbus Boulevard. Then there are miles of lanes lost through atrophy. Ten years since bike lanes started emerging, many have crumbled and faded to the point of disappearing.”

Sounds just like Edinburgh! (See state of cycle lanes in Marchmont Road.) In spite of which both Philadelphia and Edinburgh have seen significant increases in the number of people cycling (and journeys/distance cycled).

The Treaty of Brussels was signed with the approval of  Transport Convener Phil Wheeler. He has just been replaced by Councillor Gordon Mackenzie who is quoted in the Evening News saying “Edinburgh has to address both congestion and healthy lifestyles. This is why we are so keen to sign up to the ambitious targets of the charter. Getting more people on to their bikes is not just good for the environment – it’s good for their health and well-being, too.”

It remains to be seen whether he and his successors are able to proclaim the success of tripling cycle use over the next eleven and a half years. It will need some change of official attitudes and a re-allocation of resources – not just ‘aspirations’.

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, cycle training, Cycling News, Cycling Scotland, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Demonstration Towns, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, paths, Peak Oil, Physical Activity and Health, ride, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Spokes, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Sustrans Boss Welcomes Green Passport Day

Posted by chdot on September 12, 2008


The new Green Passport Day next Saturday (September 20th) has been welcomed by Sustrans National Director for Scotland John Lauder: “Events like this are a great idea. Sustrans’ vision is a world in which people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. With the continued expansion of our award winning National Cycle Network, 75% of the population live now within two miles of the Network. Whether used for leisure or commuting, Edinburgh’s traffic free paths offer a pleasant and accessible route to shopping and leisure facilities, schools, parks, the sea front and more.

The event takes place along the path network between Roseburn and Leith.  Green Passports are being distributed to all primary and nursery school children in Edinburgh. Spare copies will be available on the day. The idea is to walk, cycle or scooter along the route collecting stamps at the checkpoints. After collecting two or more stamps the passport can be handed in and entered into a prize draw. Participants are also being encouraged to enjoy some family games in Victoria Park. Map of route and checkpoints.

Organiser Maggie Wynn of ChangingPace says “Edinburgh’s more famous land marks are known world wide. When using these paths the city is viewed and enjoyed from a completely different, but equally beautiful perspective.”

Posted in Active Travel, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, HEALTH, Maps, paths, Peak Oil, Safe Routes to School, TryCycling, walking, What the papers say | Leave a Comment »

Yellow Bus Report Encourages Cycling

Posted by chdot on September 12, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

Commuter Challenge Volunteers Wanted

Posted by chdot on September 10, 2008

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chdot/2803933116
Once again Edinburgh is to have a Commuter Challenge as part of European Mobility Week. For the past few years the destination has been Princes Street. 

For 2008 (Friday 19th September) it will be the newly opened, almost tranquil, St. Andrew Square gardens – complete with cafe.

Participants will set off from each of four departure points around Edinburgh (the Park and Ride site at Ingliston, Newcraighall Station, Ocean Terminal and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) and travel by car, bus, train, motorcycle or bicycle.

Organiser Maggie Wynn of ChangingPace is looking for volunteers travelling either by their normal means of transport, or trying a different one for the day. “The challenge compares some typical commuter journeys into the centre of Edinburgh for speed, cost and impact on climate change.  We hope that the results will help people make their own minds up about how they want to travel to work.”

Departures will be timed so that the participants from each starting point will arrive at St Andrew’s Square around 8.15am.

It’s not a race – all participants will have to follow the highway code and other regulations, so car drivers will have to observe the speed limit and park legally, public transport users will have to buy a ticket, and cyclists will only be allowed to use roads and recognised cycle routes). Awards will be given for the earliest arrivals from each of the four departure points. Coffee and buns for registered participants!

If you want to join in the fun, e-mail Maggie Wynn (or ‘phone 07914 727 018)

Posted in Active Travel, Bikes on trains, ChangingPace, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, Climate Change, commuting, Core Path Network, cycle parking, Cycling News, Cycling on the Radio, Cycling on TV, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, EducatedTravel, European Moblity Week, Lothian Buses, paths, Peak Oil, ride, Spokes, Spokes maps, Sustrans, walking, What the papers say | 2 Comments »

CyclingEdinburgh in The Scotsman

Posted by chdot on August 26, 2008

CyclingEdinburgh was asked to comment on cycling provision in relation to the recent success of Chris Hoy.

It’s in today’s paper – on-line (if you have a Premium account).  

and here –

Every summer, for a couple of weeks, streets and courts are awash with ‘Wimbledon effect’ racketeers. There are plenty of tennis courts in private clubs and public parks. Swimmers wanting to emulate Rebecca Adlington are reasonably well catered for. But what about the provision for cyclists?

Chris Hoy’s fine Olympic performances are due to an alignment of talent, dedication, supportive (but not pushy) parents and a variety of back-up people and facilities.

Previous Olympic medal winner Chris Boardman’s “Secret Squirrel Club” has been developing the winning bicycle technologies. Not a cheap process.

The other key factor in Team GB’s cycling success has been the Velodrome – in Manchester. It was opened in 1994 and resurfaced in 2007 – seven years sooner than expected, due to intensive use. 

It isn’t just for elite riders; as the venue’s web site says: “we provide 1 hour track sessions for beginners with all equipment included at reduced rates for school, college and university student groups”. It’s not just cycling – “facilities include fully sprung sports courts For basketball, netball and badminton”.

By contrast Edinburgh’s velodrome at Meadowbank was built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games and resurfaced in time for the 1986 Games. Some 22 years later the track is suffering not so much from use as neglect – and the inevitable results of being permanently open to the elements.

The Edinburgh track is well used – as can be seen in the YouTube video produced by Edinburgh Racers (the Saturday morning club for 8 to 16 year olds) as part of the campaign to save the velodrome. 

Hoy recorded an endorsement before flying off to Beijing. The Racers run from April to September. That could double with a fully-enclosed track (like the Manchester one), with no cancellations when it rains. 

It’s well-documented that City of Edinburgh Council’s plans for a new velodrome evaporated when Glasgow was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Games. In short, the money went west. It can’t be confirmed if any tears were shed around the City Chambers. 

Even now, after a few medals for riders who began track riding at Meadowbank and positive noises from First Minister Alex Salmond, there are no certainties other than an open topped parade in Hoy’s honour organised by the city council. He is too polite to make a point by boycotting it.

The Council is still talking of a new “cycling facility”. No details, no certain site, no dates – not even promises of continuity. There is a real possibility that Meadowbank will be demolished before the Chris Hoy stadium is completed in Glasgow with no (smaller) Edinburgh replacement built.

Cycling isn’t just a sport – elite or otherwise. Nor is it merely a leisure active, though Mountain Biking is serious business in Scotland. Forestry Commission Scotland has made Glentress (and the other MTB trails that make up the 7Stanes) the envy of the world.

Cycling is primarily transport. It’s an activity open to all ages – without needing a licence or much in the way of specialist equipment. Bikes are cheap (unless you are an Olympic wannabe when £10k might be the price tag!)

The UK and Scottish Governments want more people to cycle – for a range of reasons: “carbon reduction”, congestion reduction, health and even tourism. In spending terms it’s generally transport budgets (national and local) that are expected to deliver.

Governments need to get to grips with the fact that if they really want more people to cycle, not only do they have to shift the balance in transport budgets they also have to use health and education money.

It would help if cycle training was on the curriculum. Sciennes Primary, Edinburgh’s longstanding example of “best practice” manages to train almost all its P6 pupils each year. That’s ninety children – in school time. 

Hoy has raised the profile of cycling. It’s important that it’s not seen as a two week wonder or an elite activity.

Posted in Chris Hoy, City of Edinburgh Council, citycycling, cycle racing, cycle training, Cycling News, cycling world, cyclingedinburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, HEALTH, Meadowbank Velodrome, What the papers say | 3 Comments »