Entries tagged with “active travel”.


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 eight years ago when this blog was very new, I wrote a post called On cycle commuting, as it was “coming up to that time of year when people make resolutions to change their lives”. I think it is time to revisit that post. I hadn’t at that time seen just how much selling my car to fund my first year at university and getting a bicycle was going to change my life (OK, so the money only lasted the first term, but I did have a very good time).

That was how I came to sell my last car in 1994 and since then I have never looked back. The car was an MG Midget 1500 since you ask, and I had had two MKIII Midgets (one of which had round rear wheel arches, such a pretty wee car) before that, but despite the 1500’s ugly rubber bumper this one was my favourite, it was such fun. But I digress, at the time I sold the car I couldn’t imagine living without a car and thought that as soon as I graduated I would get myself another one. However, that was not the way things worked out, by the end of four years of car free living I had discovered freedom in the shape of a bicycle and my own two feet, and so I didn’t want to go back to owning a money pit. You never really realise just what a burden a car is until you get rid of it, it is a continual drain on resources. So people think of the car as freedom, but then constantly complain about congestion, the cost of fuel (even when it is getting cheaper), the lack of parking, the cost of insurance, etc. Drivers are never really happy.

When I was living in Aberdeen (2002-2005), I did for a short while consider buying another car. Aberdeen is an awful place to live as it is so car sick, it is difficult to get about by active travel even though it is a small city and distances are short. At the same time it is heavily congested, people drive everywhere, and as a result it can take over half an hour to make a two mile journey. Yes it would be quicker to walk, but there are continuous barriers put up to make walking unpleasant and dangerous, which further increases the incentive to drive. However, I discovered that even in Aberdeen I could get about by bike, although it was more stressful than anywhere else I have ever cycled. Have you tried cycling on roads used by Humvees? In a city where Range Rovers are two a penny, there are some drivers who feel vulnerable unless they are driving a light armoured car imported from a dubious source in the Middle East.

So while I did feel peer pressure to buy a car, especially for getting out of Aberdeen into glorious Aberdeenshire, the thing that ultimately stopped me was sitting down with a piece of paper and working out the economics of doing so. It didn’t take me long to work out that for what it would cost me to buy and run a well maintained five year old second hand car, I could hire a car for three week long rentals and several more weekends (which was as much usage as I could see myself needing at the time). Not only that, but by hiring I would always have the use of a brand new car, I could choose the right size for the journey I was making and if by any chance it did breakdown, I could just hand it back and get another one. Why buy, it really made no sense. After moving back to Edinburgh I did consider joining the City Car Club, but again found that it didn’t suit my needs, in Edinbugh I didn’t feel the need for so many weekend hires and the CCC is more expensive for longer hires, CCC cars are intended to be hired for a few hours at a time. In the last few years I haven’t even felt the need to hire a car at all, as I have discovered that car free holidays are really great fun.

Looking back at my blog post On cycle commuting I realise that it was only the tenth post I had written and the first on the subject of cycling. When I first started this blog I had no idea what I was going to write about, it certainly hadn’t occurred to me that cycling was a subject I was actually interested in. For me the bicycle was just a quick and convenient way of getting from A to B, it was transport, a utility item and nothing more. However, around the same time I found myself commenting on a cycling forum. I don’t quite remember how it happened, I think I was looking something up on the internet and found myself in the commuting section of the old C plus forum (now part of Bike Radar). For some reason I felt the need to join in the conversation, it was the first time that I had joined an internet forum. When the C plus forum was subsumed into Bike Radar, I, like many others, moved to a tiny new forum, run as a hobby by a guy called Shaun. This forum started to see exponential growth and in some ways being there at the start of the growth felt like being a pioneer. I became a regular poster and was involved in a few innovations which helped it to grow as a community.

I found that I made a number of friends through CycleChat, people I have broken bread (or should that be cake) with in the real world, not just on-line ‘friends’. However, over time I drifted away from forums and onto Twitter, here I was involved in a wider range of conversations. Around the same time I also became a qualified cycle trainer and for a while taught kids to ride bikes on the road. This, along with my experiences as a fully qualified driving instructor (before going to Uni as a mature student), changed my views on the safety of our roads. The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain formed around the same time (pretty much by accident). It looked like a good idea so I signed up to it, but as all the meetings were in London, a group of us started to talk about forming a Scottish Consulate, mostly over Twitter, but there was one memorable lunch as well, in our kitchen. Then one evening (24 Feb 2012, for the record) a couple of friends and I were discussing talk of a big protest in London. To quote an e-mail sent the same evening from Dave Brennan to Sally Hinchcliffe and myself:

Hi Guys,

The call has gone out […] for cyclists to go to London on the 28th April
in a show of support for the ‘cycle revolution’. I’d love to go, but I
just can’t make it. Too far, too expensive, too difficult. 🙁

However, that got me thinking, surely this is the right time to push the
agenda north of the border. We have a separate parliament who have yet
to make any major noises about this campaign. So, I’m wondering if we
need a Scottish ride to coincide with the London ride. Probably an
Edinburgh ride to Holyrood.

What do you guys think?

So was born Pedal on Parliament. When we started, we had no idea just how big that would become. At one stage in the early planning we were filling out a form to get permission for the ride to go ahead, one question was about how many people did we expect? I suggested that we put down 300 and that if 50 turned up, we’d be doing well. On the 28th April 2012, 3,000 people turn out to ride to Holyrood in support of the PoP Manifesto. Following this first PoP protest ride, we were invited to meet the (then) Minister for Transport, Keith Brown MSP. Since then PoP has had a number of meetings with the Minister and we have made it clear that we are not going away until Scotland becomes a a cycle-friendly nation. It will, one day.

Having seen the turnout for the first Pedal on Parliament, I came up with another idea and innocently put up a blog post asking if there should be an Edinburgh Festival of Cycling? It seemed like a good idea at the time, I hadn’t really expected people to take it too literally, but they did and the next thing I knew, we were doing it. The first Edinburgh Festival of Cycling which was held between 15th and 23rd June 2013, the festival took place again this year (2014) and we are now planning 2015.

So if you are thinking about doing something in the new year to change your life, I would recommend, in the words of Mark Twain, “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live.”

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Spokes the Lothian Cycle Campaign group is always on the look out for opportunities to increase the funding of everyday cycling in Scotland. So when they spotted that the Scottish Government is about to receive a £213m boost as a result of the UK Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement (thanks to the so-called “Barnett consequentials”). Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP has said £125m of it will go to the NHS, but the remainder is not yet allocated. As the Scottish government will decide very soon, possibly in the next few days or certainly the next few weeks, how to use this money. They suggested that people should write to their MSP’s to suggest that some of this money should be used to invest in cycling infrastructure.

I took the opportunity write to all my MSP’s, and this is what I wrote:

Dear MSPs,

Repeated studies have shown that increasing rates of Active Travel, walking and cycling, for short journeys (and the majority of every day journeys are under 5 miles), have a positive impact on the health and well being of the population as a whole. Not only is Active Travel good for health, it is good for the economy too. Not only does it provide jobs directly, but also people who arrive at work via active means are more productive and take less sick leave. Infrastructure improvements to encourage Active Travel are also cheap and quick to implement, but they do need to be properly funded to achieve their full potential.

In his speech on 9th October 2014 the Finance Secretary, John Swinney, made a promise that the Scottish Government would spend “an additional
£10 million next year for cycling and walking infrastructure”. However, it has subsequently emerged that £5m had in fact been pre-announced in June and that the other £5m is not actually for is not even for walking and cycling. It is for car sharing, bus ticketing incentives, bus shelters and so on, not directly on Active Travel. Therefore unless Mr Swinney is able to find the additional money from somewhere else his promise to Parliament will have been bogus.

The UK government has recently announced £214m additional cycling investment in England. At the same time the Scottish Government will receive £123m in Barnet consequentials, this gives Mr Swinney the opportunity to make good on his promise to Parliament made on the 9th October 2014. Please urge Mr Swinney to take this opportunity to make good on his promise.

Yours sincerely,

Kim

 

I will list the replies as the come in below:

The first reply comes from Cameron Buchanan MSP:

Dear Ms Harding,

Thank you very much for your message. I agree with you about the importance of cycling – it should be encouraged wherever possible. I also agree that misleading announcements by the SNP, of which there are many, should be called out.

I will continue to advocate cycle-friendly policies in Parliament and in this your points are most welcome. Furthermore, I will be questioning the Scottish Government in Parliament today, when I will ask if they have any plans to increase investment in cycling infrastructure.

I hope you find this response helpful.

 

Second reply, was some what longer, from Sarah Boyack MSP:

Thank you for your e-mail about funding for cycling infrastructure. The Scottish Government has recently announced its draft budget for 2015/16 which gives an indication on its intentions for cycling and active travel. I believe that making active travel options more accessible for everyone could help address the physical and mental health problems we face in Scotland. My party, Scottish Labour supports active travel and the encouragement of walking and cycling, as well as more generally the culture of active travel.

We are pleased that in the draft budget for 2015/16, the total budget for sustainable and active travel has increased by over 40% in real terms. We welcome this commitment. However, at this stage we don’t know the details of what this money will be spent on. We are pushing the SNP Government to confirm how this money will be allocated and, in particular, how much of it will be allocated to cycling infrastructure.

Under the transport portfolio, £25m is earmarked for support for sustainable and active travel while local government will be provided with £8m grant funding for cycling walking and safer routes. In its submission to the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, Spokes also identified funding for active travel within the Future Transport Fund, Forth Bridge construction and trunk road budget lines. Based on Spokes’ estimates, the total funding specifically targeted at active travel in 2015/16 will be £37m, around £28m of which will be spent on infrastructure. This compares with Spokes estimates of £40.3m (total) and £36m (infrastructure) in 2014/15. That’s a big drop in investment.

I want to see increased, sustained year on year investment in infrastructure to encourage cycling so I welcome Edinburgh’s leadership with the council’s commitment to ensure continual, increasing investment in cycling. In 2012/13, 5% of the total transport budget went on cycling investment. In 2014/15, that had increased to 7%.

The Scottish Government needs to put in place proper funding and sustained investment. We need both dedicated facilities for cycling and better integration across our trunk and local road networks. Part of this process must be to ensure that the needs of cyclists are designed into our roads maintenance, our local transport strategies and our planning decisions so that routes and dedicated infrastructure such as parking facilities are designed with the needs of cyclists in mind.

In my campaign to be Scottish Labour Leader I published 100 Ideas for a New Scotland and suggested that we should also be looking at more segregated cycle routes.

Alongside considering cycling as a mode of transport, there are interesting opportunities to take a broader approach. I’m keen that the debate considers how cycling can help to address other Scottish Government goals such as physical activity targets and legacy initiatives attached to the 2014 Commonwealth Games as opportunities to set clear targets on cycling participation. Promoting cycling amongst school students is also crucial.

We need to promote safer road cycling opportunities generally as well as targeting specific cycle interest developments for sport and tourism.

We need a step change to deliver the increases in cycle participation that the Scottish Government want to achieve under the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland and I, along with my Labour Party colleagues will continue to press for investment in facilities and initiatives to make this a reality.

 

Third reply from Alison Johnstone MSP

Dear Kim

Thank you for contacting me regarding active travel funding.

You may be aware that there is a Government debate this afternoon on Active Travel. I have lodged an amendment to the Government motion (copy below) and I am pleased that it has been selected for debate. I will be taking part in this afternoon’s debate, so you will be able to read my contribution in the Official Report, or watch the debate live on the Parliament website.


*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”.

I have received emails from a number of constituents who share your concerns. My colleague Patrick Harvie MSP is meeting the Finance Secretary tomorrow to discuss the budget and he will be taking the opportunity to press him on active travel funding.

Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.

Best wishes

Alison

 

Who will be next?

 

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I recently came across Dublin Cycling Stories, which is a series of short portraits of people who use bikes to get around Dublin. These films were made with support from the Dublin Cycling Campaign and Dublin City Council. The site is inspiring in many ways and there are lessons here for Edinburgh. After all, Dublin and Edinburgh are capital cities of a similar size, both are emerging cycling cities, although Dublin is way ahead of Edinburgh, as we shall see.

Where Dublin has got it right, and where other emerging cycling cities should take note, is that the influencers in the city have made it a priority to promote the Cycling Stories as a normal way of life for Dubliners, and not just a fringe lifestyle for the brave few. These short films were made to show the world how gloriously easy, fun and sexy a bike ride can be, what a great idea!

Let’s start with Lisa’s story, the young mum taking her child to nursery …

… this shows that cycling can be easy and fun, something that both mother and daughter enjoy.

Then there is Paul’s story, he uses a bicycle for work …

… as a photographer he has to carry equipment about with him, but he can easily do so by bike and it’s obvious that going by bike has many advantages over using a car.

For a bit of contrast we have Julie’s story…

… she’s a student and tells us about how cycling gives her freedom (and how hills aren’t really a problem).

Next, we have Georgia’s story, showing how easy and sociable cycling can be as a way of getting about the city …

… in Georgia’s story we see clearly how far ahead Dublin is of Edinburgh in terms of infrastructure.

The film shows Dublin as having a connected network of cycle paths, where space has been taken from motor vehicles. Edinburgh is only just beginning to timidly experiment with this on George Street …

George Street, Edinburgh

… although in true Edinburgh fashion, they have only gotten half way through doing it, then downed tools for the Festival. George Street looks great, but doesn’t actually connect with anything at either end and is not part of a direct route to go anywhere, showing a frustrating lack of thought about cycling as a means of transport by the planners (and they call themselves transport professionals?).

Another thing that is different in Dublin, compared with Edinburgh, is evident from the dublinbikes story …

… Dublin claims to have the most successful bike share scheme in Europe. Edinburgh has yet to dabble with a bike share scheme, although such schemes have been real game changers in other cities. Will Edinburgh ever get a bike share scheme?

Well let’s just say that Rob Grisdale, MD of nextbike UK was sighted in Edinburgh yesterday, and he wasn’t here to do the festival (although I am told, he did manage to take in a show or two). So will Edinburgh ever get a bike share scheme? Given the City of Edinburgh Council’s desire to remain stuck firmly in the 1980’s it would seem not, but as Stirling is showing, the council doesn’t have to be in the lead, it could be a forward-looking social enterprise that takes the lead. I am not going to say more here, but there are ideas forming.

Possibly the greatest lesson these films have for Edinburgh (or indeed other cities) is that by promoting positive images of average people using the humble bicycle as a means of transportation, cycling can be used to “humanize” the city. In the last century the coming of the car brutalised our cities, now in the 21st century, civic leaders are starting to recognize the importance of the bicycle to creating living cities of the new millennium – the ones which embrace multi-modal transportation.

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It is well known that, to be healthy in both mind and body, it is important to keep active. As Juvenal (55 – 138 AD) put it, Mens sana in corpore sano. These days there is plenty of advice on how to keep active. My personal preference is for active travel, as it is the easiest way to include regular physical exercise into your daily life. These days, when there is an app for everything, there are of course apps to help you lead a healthy life. One that recently caught my eye is the Human – Activity Tracker, not so much because of the slick graphics on their website (although those are very nice), but more because of the data it has collected and presented in the video below –

 


 

The thing that fascinates me about this is the way it shows us the different patterns of activity across different cities, for different modes of travel/activity. At this point it is necessary to add a caveat about the way that the data have been collected. This app is only available for the iPhone and therefore represents the activity of only a small section of the community, but it is never the less fascinating. See more visual data here, sadly Edinburgh is not one of the 30 cities listed.

 

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