Edinburgh Living


On 19th May approximately 4,000 people converged on Holyrood for Pedal on Parliament, calling for Scotland to become a cycle friendly nation. The question is how do we get there? There are two countries which are invariably held as good examples of how to achieve this aim are the Netherlands and Denmark. But how do their models work and which is best for Scotland? The Danish model of creating a cycling-friendly culture is often said to be an easier fit for current UK conditions. Accordingly, we’re excited to welcome to the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, the famous Danish urban mobility expert and “bicycle anthropologist”, Mikael Colville-Andersen, will be giving a talk on Bicycle Culture by Design – Considering Design as a Place-making Solution for Liveable Cities.

Here in Scotland we are looking again at how we use the space in our cities, in Edinburgh there is discussion about how the city centre will change with the arrival of the trams, as well as the recent Council report on the Building a Vision for the City Centre consultation. Glasgow is currently making changes to it’s infrastructure in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games. Aberdeen and Dundee are also looking at major redevelopment projects. This should be an opportunity to make our cities truly world class, benefiting residents, local businesses and visitors alike, by learning from the best. Copenhagen is often ranked as one of the best places to live in the world, and even Britain’s best known petrol head, Jeremy Clarkson, has described Copenhagen as paradise. However, the 500,000 people who travel by bike every day in Greater Copenhagen are not “cyclists”, nor are they “environmentalists”. They simply choose to ride a bicycle because it is the most convenient, pleasant and fast way to get across the city.

Colville-Andersen, often referred to as Denmark’s Bicycle Ambassador, has presented keynote talks around the world on how cities can use the lessons learned in Copenhagen to become better places to live for everybody. He considers the bicycle to be the most effective tool for achieving the 21st century goal of re-creating liveable cities, and uses a unique combination of anthropology and marketing to explain how ordinary people can be encouraged to choose the bicycle.

He argues that we should use design as a common denominator for everything from advocacy to traffic engineering. Using basic design principles in understanding bicycle infrastructure and culture, it is easier to provide a more direct route to implementation. This is a straight forward and cost effective way to achieve the goal of re-creating liveable cities, where people want to live, work and play.

There will be a rare opportunity to hear Mikael Colville-Andersen talk on his ground-breaking ideas in the UK. Bicycle Culture by Design – Considering Design as a Place-making Solution for Liveable Cities will take place on 15th June at the Assembly Hall, Mound Place, Edinburgh, starting at 19:30. Tickets are available on-line or at The Hub box office. This talk is kindly sponsored by Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative.

In response to the City of Edinburgh Council current proposal of actually banning bicycles from one of Edinburgh’s prime thoroughfares, a senior Spokes member has suggested that all councillors and planners should be given tickets to see this talk. Regardless of your occupation or your preconceptions about cycling, this is sure to be a thought-provoking, lively and ultimately inspiring evening.

This post was sent out as a Press Release for the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, an idea that started here.

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On the 19th May approximately 4,000 people turned up at Holyrood for Pedal on Parliament, calling for Scotland to become a cycle friendly nation. The question is how do we get there? There are two models which are generally given as examples of how to go about it, the Dutch and the Danish. It is interesting to note that, as a result of the Pedal on Parliament protests, the Scottish Transport Minster, Keith Brown MSP, is going to Amsterdam on a fact finding trip. This is to be commended, let’s hope he learns something useful.

He could also take a fact finding trip to Copenhagen to find out more about the Danish model. However, as this would be at the tax payers expense and Copenhagen is rather more expensive that Amsterdam, a cheaper solution would be for him to attend the Bicycle Culture by Design talk in Edinburgh on the 15th June as part of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling.

I have been told that the Danish model is an easier fit for the current conditions in the UK. While I make no claim to be an expert on the difference between the these two models, the Dutch model is not just infrastructure, but is a whole approach which the Dutch call Duurzaam veilig or Sustainable Safety. Whereas the Danish model is more based around the infrastructure, if I have got this wrong no doubt I will be told on the 15th June by Copenhagen’s bicycle ambassador himself. There is much that we can learn, back in the 1970’s Copenhagen was just as car-clogged as anywhere else, but now 36% of the population arriving at work or education do so on bicycles, from all over the Metro area. 50% of Copenhageners use bicycles each day. They all use over 1000 km of bicycle lanes in Greater Copenhagen for their journeys, one side effect of this is to improve the quality of life for those living there. Even Britain’s best known petrol head, Jeremy Clarkson, described Copenhagen as paradise.

Apparently Copenhagenizing is possible anywhere, so why not here?

Copenhagenizing is possible anywhere

The thing we want to avoid is the London scenario, where the only thing they copied from Copenhagen was the colour of the paint.

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To think that just six days ago I wrote a post called Hints of Spring which I illustrated with pictures of crocuses that had appeared along Melville Drive and now look what has happened …

Where did spring go?

But then I did warn that when March comes in with the lamb, it goes out with the lion, remember Ne’er cast a cloot til Mey’s oot …

Where did spring go?

… and the hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a long way off flowering round here.

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Here in Edinburgh there are hints that spring is in the air, the crocuses have appeared along Melville Drive, there are birds beginning to sing tentatively in the pre-dawn (by the time the sun rises the rush hour has started and the noise drowns out the birdsong, so the birds have given up the competition and started singing early). However, don’t be fooled by those clear blue skies and bright sunshine, it is cold outside, and in spite of the wall to wall sunshine the maximum day time temperatures are not yet getting into double figures.

The important thing now is to get out and enjoy it, there are dark mutterings among the locals that this might be more sun than we will see in summer (just like last year), and remember that when March comes in with the lamb, it goes out with the lion…

Crocuses

Crocuses

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The first event in the Edinburgh sporting calender used to be the New Year’s Day Triathlon, which started with a swim in the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh (locally known as the Commie), followed by a cycle and a run around Arthur’s Seat. Then the Commie closed in 2009 for refurbishment, and the annual Ne’erday Tri stopped. Back then I was new to the joys of DSLR photography and took the opportunity to grab a few photos:

Edinburgh Triathlon 2009 (1)

Edinburgh Triathlon 2009 (2)

Edinburgh Triathlon 2009 (4)

The Commie re-opened on 21 March 2012 following a £37.18 million refurbishment, and the Ne’erday Tri is back! This was the cue for Ulli and I to go out and take some more photos…

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

It was interesting to see the range of people taking part, and the bikes they were riding, TT bikes to MTBs with knobbly tyres and everything in between. There are more pictures here. It was great fun to watch!

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