With the fourth outing of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling just under two weeks away there is a lot to look froward to, here is a very brief snap shot:

There is cycling journalist Laurence McJannet who will be talking about his Bikepacking adventures along some of Britain’s most beautiful off-road trails and ancient trackways.

Fraser Cartmell, Pro Triathlete and Scotland’s most successful Iron Man competitor.

Ed Shoote, writer and photographer, who will be talking about his adventures riding through central Asia.

Journalist Scot Whitlock chose to pedal the ‘Way of St James’ or the Camino de Santiago to commemorate the love for his father.

Jet McDonald who will be offering an enlightening, multi-layered talk that applies philosophy to modern life conundrums, using the experience of a bicycle journey and the components of a bicycle as metaphors to help us understand philosophy – and therefore ourselves.

Cycle style blogger Jools Walker (aka Lady Velo), who will be helping to launch the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland. The organisers of the Women’s Cycle Forum, Sally Hinchcliff and Susanne Forup (both based in Scotland) are also well worth talking to.

There is also Dave Cornthwaite, a record-breaking adventurer, who will be giving a workshop on how to make a living from your passions and a talk about his adventures. Which include 25 different non-motorised journeys each at least 1000 miles in distance, such as riding a tricycle from Germany to the UK, skateboarding across Australia and Stand Up Paddleboarding the Mississippi.

Edinburgh based Jenny Tough will be talking about cycling around the Baltic Sea, and Genevieve Whitson about her one woman’s journey to the top in the world of professional cycling.

The final talk is from Julian Sayarer will be talking about his record breaking circumnavigation by bicycle, and the differences between pedalling the globe by bicycle, and pedalling the city of London as a cycle courier.

This is just a snapshot of what is happening at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling this year. There is loads more!

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With the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections being held on Thursday 5 May 2016, I have decided that it is time to ask the candidates where they stand on Active Travel. In the past I have made a few suggestions as to what a manifesto for active travel should include, such as this post from 2010 and this from 2011. However, this time round I have been involved with a campaign called We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote AKA #WalkCycleVote. We believe these three pledges will transform Scotland for active travel

  • Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of the transport budget.
  • Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure, enabling people aged 8-80 to cycle.
  • Safety: Promote and deliver safer roads for both walking and cycling.

More detail can be found here.

As a genuine floating vote, I really haven’t decided who I am going to vote for yet. I have been e-mailing the candidates standing for election to ask where stand on Active Travel. Using the #WalkCycleVote’s handy Find your candidates page, I have been sending the following message to the candidates.

[Subject]Where do you stand on Active travel?

Dear candidate,

As a voter in the Edinburgh Central and the Lothian region, I would like to know about your and your party’s position on active travel?

There are three thing I would like to see:

Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of the transport budget.

Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure, enabling people aged 8-80 to cycle.

Safety: Promote and deliver safer roads for both walking and cycling.

I have attached a pdf which give more details in case you are interested. Can you tell me where you send on these three policy asks?

Thank you,

Kim Harding
Voter

 

First replies coming via Twitter:

First e-mail from Alison Johnstone (Green Party)

Dear Sally, Kim and all at Walk, Cycle, Vote,

Many thanks for writing to me about active travel policies ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. While the Greens have a small team compared with some others, I would very much like to have been able to get answers to you sooner, as I certainly have enjoyed working hard on this issue with you in recent years.

I am happy to restate my long-standing and unwavering commitment to deliver the investment, infrastructure and safety that is required of a modern country’s active travel infrastructure.

The Scottish Green Party has a long-standing commitment to spend at least 10% of Scotland’s transport budget on cycling and walking infrastructure, to put us on a course that would bring us up to the standard seen in many European countries where cycling rates are notably higher than our own. As Co-convenor of the Cross Party Group on Cycling during the previous parliamentary term, I frequently pressed the Transport Minister and the Finance Secretary to scale up their ambition.

It is simply unacceptable that in a transport spending of around £2 billion each year, cycle funding makes up less than 2% of this total. Since 2011/12, the trunk roads budget has increased by 36%, and yet cycle funding has plateaued, despite widespread concern that the Scottish Government is not on track to meet its 2020 target of 10% of journeys by bike.

To honour climate change commitments made in Paris, and for the sake of bringing our infrastructure into line with that of many of our European cousins, we must take a different approach to transport in general, and active travel in particular. I very much share public concerns that spending on trunk roads will increase while support for public transport and active travel shrinks.

While an MSP for Lothian, I lodged an amendment to a Government debate motion on Active Travel (a copy is included below) and I was pleased that it was selected for debate. The full report of the debate can be found here. More recently I asked a question about how the Scottish Government works with local authorities to address dangerously high air pollution levels, given that increasing the levels of cycling and walking is among the vital steps to take. You can read more about this here.

Part of our ambition must be to deliver a transport network that can best serve the needs of the public in their daily lives, and I believe that an integrated approach to walking, cycling, and public transport infrastructure is the way forward. Recent research demonstrates a link between air pollution and heart disease and makes this a matter of extreme urgency.

Increased capacity and flexibility for the carriage of bicycles and other larger items is long overdue in my opinion, so it is a frustration to see missed opportunities for creating a more ambitious and user-friendly transport network, such as when new rolling stock is under consideration. Active methods of travel, such as cycling, should be an option for people taking longer journeys that require additional means of transport, and an integrated approach to transport policy is vital.

Please be assured that I am determined to do all I can to improve cycle safety and provision, and encourage more people to choose to take the healthy, active and environmentally-friendly option of cycling.

I am certainly intending to attend this year’s PoP, so thank you for the invitation.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me in the future if I can be of assistance, or if you have any specific ideas or concerns about cycling in Scotland.

Best wishes,

Alison

*S4M-11980.2 Alison Johnstone: Active Travel—As an amendment to motion S4M-11980 in the name of Derek Mackay (Active Travel), insert at end “; reaffirms the Scottish Government’s target of 10% of journeys to be made by bike by 2020; notes the estimate by Spokes that active travel funding in the 2015-16 draft budget is lower than in the previous year; calls on the Scottish Government to reverse this cut and substantially increase funding for active travel; notes the ongoing debate and research into the introduction of presumed liability in relation to road accidents, and urges local authorities to meet growing demand for high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure, extend 20mph speed limits in built-up areas and provide walking and cycling training opportunities to every child in Scotland”.

 

Next reply from Alison Dickie (SNP)

Dear Kim,

Lovely to hear from you. I think it would be useful to set out my own personal views on this and the wider SNP position.

I am absolutely committed to supporting sustainable development in Scotland and recognise that active travel has a vital role to play in ensuring we meet the needs of the present, with due consideration for future generations. The health benefits of active travel are obvious to me, as is tackling congestion and air pollution.

I live in the Edinburgh Central constituency and like quite a number of Edinburgh residents, I tend to walk everywhere I go. I am also very supportive of cycling and understand how safer routes will encourage more take-up of cycling, and I have often commented on that myself.

The SNP are investing over £1bn annually in public transport and other sustainable transport options to encourage people out of their car. We have also committed to a £5bn programme of investment in Scotland’s railways over 5 years to 2019, double that planned by UK ministers on a per capita basis. This significant investment will also help make our roads safer by reducing congestion.

Specifically, in respect of cycling, the SNP are passionate about making active and sustainable travel part of everyday life in Scotland. We are committed to a vision of 10% of everyday journeys being undertaken by bike by 2020, which is set out in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS). We are investing almost £36m in 2015/2016 to help support delivery of this ambition. This represents an increase of 70% on 2013/2014, at a time where Scotland’s overall capital budget has decreased by 26%. We are also working with partners to make Scotland’s roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, to encourage people to choose to travel actively. You can read more about CAPS at the link below.

http://www.gov.scot/resource/doc/316212/0100657.pdf

A third version of CAPS will be published later this year. To help support CAPS, we have held two Ministerial Cycling Summits and one Active Travel Summit since 2013, honouring our commitment in CAPS to bring together Local Authority Heads of Transportation and the relevant chair of Local Authority Committees, and active travel stakeholders. Looking forward, we will extend the Future Transport Fund (FTF), which supports the development of priority active travel infrastructure projects in partnership with local authorities.

I hope that helps confirm our commitment to active travel and the support that cycling is receiving under an SNP Scottish Government committed to encouraging healthier and greener travel.
Kind regards

Alison Dickie for Edinburgh Central

 

Sarah Boyack (Lab)

Dear Kim, many thanks for raising the issue of how we promote active travel.

I have supported and promoted active travel and cycling policy and investment since my election in 1999.

I was the Scottish Parliament’s first Transport Minister in the first Scottish Parliament in 1999 and created new funds for safer streets, walking and cycling. I believe that a key challenge is delivering sustained investment by both local authorities and the Scottish Government over the next 10-15 years, if we are to deliver the transformation we need to see people of all ages being more active and making healthier, greener travel choices.

Scotland is nowhere near achieving its active travel goals to achieve 10% of all journeys travelled by cycle and 35% of all journeys by foot by 2020. My colleague David Stewart recently called for 1% of the £690m trunk road budget to be transferred to the Active Travel budget but unfortunately this fell upon deaf ears.

Given the huge benefits cycling brings to people’s health and the positive impact it has on air pollution and traffic congestion, I believe we should be doing far more to encourage people to take it up and to improve the infrastructure for existing cyclists. I agree we need to enable cycling for all ages and investment needs to start in our schools. I’m also keen to see more promotion of cycling for women and I support the recent focus on this in the cycling community.

It’s also important that we improve people’s travel options whether for work or leisure to ensure that walking and cycling are better integrated with reliable, accessible public transport across the whole of Scotland. That’s why Scottish Labour will make it easier and cheaper to get to work with a single ticket that can be used on buses, trains, trams, underground and ferries. If it can be done in London – it can be done in Scotland.

I recently wrote to the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister Derek McKay to express my concerns about Transport Scotland’s decision to downgrade cycle capacity on the Edinburgh-Glasgow service. Given the increased demand on Edinburgh to Glasgow for commuters we should be planning for extra, not reduced capacity. Having supported reopening the Borders Rail line I’ve also been committed to ensuring it has flexible space on carriages so that we can maximise the opportunity of promoting tourism and leisure opportunities in the Borders.

Our local councils have an important role in improving safety for cyclists. I support Edinburgh Council’s approach of reducing the speed limit to 20mph on selected streets and their increasing allocation of transport spending on investment.

As a former town planner I believe that we still have a long way to go in designing new buildings and public spaces to make active travel more attractive, whether its residential, work and shopping areas.

In addition to promoting active travel to work we should also be doing more to support new opportunities for leisure and recreation. Alongside the development of new national park land we need to see more well-developed walking routes and cycling trails.

Many thanks for the opportunity to comment. If re-elected I would be keen to work with you to maximise the benefits of increased levels of active travel.

Best wishes,

Sarah
Sarah Boyack
#Sarah4Central
@SarahBoyack
www.sarahboyack.com
facebook.com/sarahboyacklabour

 

Hannah Bettsworth (Lib Dem)

Dear Ms Harding,

Thank you for your recent email regarding the need to invest in active travel.

Scottish Liberal Democrats believe the case for increasing uptake of cycling and walking is compelling. It has huge potential to benefit the health of the people of Scotland, tackle obesity, ease congestion on roads, as well as contributing to meeting Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets and air pollution limits – both of which have been missed in recent years. There are more cars on the road than ever before and they account for half of all journeys under 5 kilometres Given that transport accounts for around a quarter of Scotland’s emissions, it will be almost impossible to meet these and other key targets unless there is a shift towards low-carbon and active travel. Indeed, it will require strong, effective and sustained leadership from the next Scottish Government if 10% of all journeys are to be made by bike by 2020.

Scottish Liberal Democrats support safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians. For example, we will establish more dedicated and segregated cycle infrastructure. It is also worth noting that Liberal Democrats have a strong record of delivering in this area. For example, our councillors in Edinburgh helped secure the commitment to spending 5% of the city’s transport budget on cycling, with an automatic 1% a year escalator to move it up to 10%. There is real progress being made and there is real merit in other councils’ following this lead.

Further plans for active travel will be set out in our manifesto. I hope that you will take the time to read it because many of these themes will be reflected in it and I am certain it will be of interest to you. It will be available in due course at www.scotlibdems.org.uk.

I hope that you find this response helpful in the meantime and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance with regards to this or any other matter.
Kind regards,

Hannah Bettsworth

 

Just remember:
We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote

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Some time ago I wrote a blog post called Beware Notice of Tax Return e-mail which has been receiving a lot of traffic of late. I was wondering why until I received an e-mail with subject “ID: 441013829” from “email.correspondence@gov.uk”. In the body of the e-mail the message:

Pending Tax Refund

We would like to notify you that you still have an outstanding tax
refund of £265.84 from overpaid tax from year ending 2015, despite our
previous letters regarding your refund we are yet to receive your claim.
Requests for refunds are time limited please use the link below to
complete your claim online also note the following:

* You have until the 30th of March 2016 to make your claim
* Reference No: 2015/956324/B
* We can only process a refund for the tax year we have detailed above

Start Claim [button with this is the link to the Start Claim http://www.frantonhomes.com/job.php?C15B4DA2EFBF3EDCF5B3B7939084862B72B080884662CE63CD8FCDBE470C76758A9EF80891AD034E2B3E1D8E2E2142CA5A752E9C8C8BD218E82E790DB5027 ]

We aim to send repayments within 2 weeks, but it may take longer in some
cases. You should wait 4 weeks before contacting us about the payment.

HM Revenue and Customs

* © Crown Copyright

At first glance much of the body of the e-mail looks plausible, but the obvious thing that is wrong is that link from the “Start Claim button. If the e-mail had been real it would have pointed to https://www.gov.uk/claim-tax-refund note that it starts https, so it is a secure website. Next the “gov.uk” domain, this is used for web pages only, it is not used for e-mail these use “[name]@[department].gsi.gov.uk”. Finally there is that “© Crown Copyright” this just doesn’t appear in legitimate e-mails.

If you do get one of these e-mails there is advice on what to do here.

Hope this helps you spot the scams, if you would like to leave a comment about your experiences or advice to help others, please do so below.

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The Edinburgh Cycle Challenge will run from 1st – 21st March and is completely free to all organisations and individuals in the city. The Challenge is a bespoke behaviour change project to get more people cycling, led by Love to Ride who are working in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, Grontmij and The Bike Station. The Challenge was announced at a well-attended stakeholder meeting at the Council in mid-January with representatives from the city’s vibrant cycling scene – including the CTC, SPOKES, Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, Sustrans and Hart’s Cyclery – and from the Council, SESTrans and several large employers.

The Edinburgh Cycle Challenge is an inclusive, fun, free competition between organisations to see which can get the highest proportion of their staff to try riding a bike. The website is designed to appeal to regular cyclists and people new to riding. There are integrations with popular apps like Strava, Moves and MapMyRide so regular riders’ activity can be automatically uploaded to their profiles. New riders can access tips, advice and information on where to ride and Dr Bike and skills training events and are able to create goals to help them track their progress.

The Challenge model incentivises new riders to join in and existing riders to encourage their colleagues: there are a hundred cinema tickets up for grabs which will be awarded to people who ride for the first time in a year and to those who encourage them to take part. There are also lots of great prizes to encourage everyone to join in, whether they ride every day or haven’t been on a bike in years.

Over the coming weeks there will be more organisations signing up and more prizes added to the website. It only takes a minute to sign up and join or register your workplace. Claire Connachan, the Challenge Manager, would love to hear from anyone who has any questions about the Challenge, would like to sponsor a prize or wants to help out in any other way. Please drop her a line at claire.c@lovetoride.org

Some stats about Love to Ride:
Edinburgh Cycle Challenge stats

A guest post from Claire Connachan.

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The UK was first country in the world to require drivers of motor vehicles to have insurance. When the Road Traffic Act (1930) introduced compulsory third-party insurance, it was intended to provide a means of assured compensation for the injured victims of road traffic collisions (then, as now, mostly pedestrians and cyclists).
“However, since then we have created a David v Goliath culture, where the odds are frequently stacked against the vulnerable, who have had the misfortune to have been hit by the driver of a motor vehicle. In many cases, it is impossible for them to claim compensation (to which are fairly and reasonably entitled) without resorting to litigation. This only adds to the distress for those who have been injured through no fault of their own.

We at Road Share think it is right for Scotland to lead the rest of the UK by changing its Civil Law to respect and protect the vulnerable in society by moving to a system of presumed liability. This change will support pedestrians and cyclists injured in road traffic collisions.

All political parties who care about social justice should incorporate the Road Share proposals for presumed liability in their 2016 manifestos. We can no longer sit back and watch our legal system fail the Nation’s pedestrians and cyclists. We need to ensure that fairness to the individual sits at the very heart of our civil legal system. At present, the process for obtaining compensation is heavily weighted against the injured individual who has to take on the might of the driver’s insurance company.
“Presumed Liability would encourage insurance companies to re-evaluate their prospects of success in showing that the injured party has been negligent in some way. This would mean that vulnerable road users would be compensated quickly and fairly, without resort to expensive Court actions. These Court actions affect everyone in terms of cost, time, money and, often for the injured party, a great deal of stress.

The Road Share campaign was initiated to highlight the shortcomings in civil law road traffic liability cases where there seems to be little recognition of the sheer disparity between a motorised vehicle, and walking or cycling regarding the ability to cause serious harm to others. Presumed liability allows for a recognition of who brings most harm to a collision and, thereby, shifts the burden of proof from the vulnerable to those with the potential to cause greater harm. If liability for a collision between a cyclist and motorist falls equally on both parties, or on one party more than the other, this can be accounted for within the framework of Presumed Liability. It is not intended to unfairly blame the party with the greater potential to do harm. Therefore, Presumed Liability offers a fairer and more responsible approach to compensating vulnerable road users while, at the same time, ensuring that reckless cyclists and pedestrians, who are entirely “the author of their own misfortunes” are not compensated. At present, injured vulnerable road users very often face a David v Goliath battle against an insurance company. This must change.

Please show your support for Presumed Liability by signing our online petition.

Kim Harding is a member of the steering group of the Road Share campaign.

The post first appeared in Holyrood, Scotland’s fortnightly political and current affairs magazine that keeps people informed.

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