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The Edinburgh Festival of Cycling 2016 is coming

The Edinburgh Festival of Cycling 2016 is coming

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 www.hayamix.com 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 www.garida.net 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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So you want to start a festival of cycling?

So you want to start a festival of cycling?

A couple of years ago I 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, now on the eve of the second Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, I still can’t believe that it is happening. It is not just that EdFoC (as we affectionately call it) has been listed as one of the UK’s best cycling festivals by The Guardian and Total Women’s Cycling. It’s also that I have been asked for advice on how to run a successful cycling festival by people as far away as Canada and Australia!

As a result of this experience I have decided to put together this wee Q & A:

How did EdFoC start?

Ironically in a way, it started with a mass protest ride called Pedal on Parliament, which in itself started as twitter conversation between three friends. When we started planning PoP, we had to get permission and give an estimate of number of the people we expected to turn up. I said “put down 300 and if 50 turn out we are doing well”. On the day an estimated 3,000 turned up. This made me think that there was an appetite for everyday cycling and I decided that what Edinburgh needed was a Festival of Cycling, and set about organising one.

Is it open access, like Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Yes, we invite people to organise their own cycling/bicycle related events. The festival acts as a banner for all sorts of events, some are already well established such as the Edinburgh to St Andrews ride (65 miles) and the Spokes Bike Breakfast, both of which have been running for years, but were happy to become a part of the Festival. Others events are brand new, such as the Edinburgh inter-schools MTB championships and the Women’s Cycling Forum (both firsts for the UK).

Are any events run directly by your organisation or is it all community generated?

Yes, the Festival does run some of the events too, we organise a number of talks, exhibitions and the highly success full Night Ride (which has sold out both years and has been described as a “magical experience” on its first outing). I should also point out that the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling Ltd is a community based social enterprise, and any profits from running the festival are invested into grass roots cycling in the city.

Do you have any records of the numbers of participants from the festival last year?

It is hard to know exactly how many people took part in the festival last year, as we had 40+ events across more than 30 different venues, over nine days. I would estimate that there were at least 1,500 – 2,000 people in total. We did gather feedback on the festival through an online survey, which showed that over 80% of those who responded rated the Festival as Very Good or Excellent, which we were very pleased with.

Do you know if participants were regular bike riders or were non-riders engaged with the festival as well?

From the limited snap shot of the feedback survey, we know that most of those who responded were already cyclists, but just about all of them said that it had encouraged them to cycle more. Those who were not currently cycling (and there were a few) said wanted to give it a try again because of the festival.

Up date, a few more questions have been asked, which I have added here.

Do we charge a fee to event organisers for having their events listed?

Yes we have a fee of £20 for listing events (other Festivals in the city charge higher fees), this is something we will look at again after the
festival this year and maybe go to a two trier system, for commercial and non commercial events.

What about events which register after the printed guide has been released?

Here we still charge the fee, as to do otherwise would create an incentive to wait and add events late.

What sort of marketing does EdFoC do to promote the whole event?

Most of our marketing is through social media and press releases as we started with a zero budget. This year we did take out a display Ad in a
cycling magazine, but the budget is still very limited. There is also the printed programme, which we distribute through out the city. This year we distributed 10,000 copies of the printed programme.

Are event organisers expected to do some of their own promotion and if so, do they understand this?

Yes event organisers are expected to do some of their own promotion, we make this clear on the booking form for inclusion in the festival. Certainly most (probably all, I haven’t had time to check) event organisers do some of their own promotion. Interestingly last year we had reports that event organisers had large increases in traffic to their websites, much of which was click thought from the EdFoC website, so they felt that they had seen a clear benefit to being a part of the festival.

Hope that this is some use, of course if you have any more questions, I always happy to try and help.

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Denmark’s Bicycle Ambassador to present keynote talk to the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling

Denmark’s Bicycle Ambassador to present keynote talk to the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling

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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After PoP what next?

After PoP what next?

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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An Edinburgh Festival of Cycling?

An Edinburgh Festival of Cycling?

Edinburgh prides itself on being the City of Festivals, there are festivals for The Arts (and their attendant Fringe), Books, Films, Science, and even Storytelling. Edinburgh also has ambitions to be a cycling city, it is the only city in the UK to have signed the Charter of Brussels and is committing 5% of the city’s transport budget to cycling. So with Edinburgh bidding to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2017, could this be the time to start an Edinburgh Festival of Cycling? I get the feeling that it is, we could aim to have something up and running in 2013, so that by 2017 (and the possible TdF Grand Depart) it would be well established.

To be a proper Edinburgh style festival, it would have to be a city-wide event over at least a week, as a real showcase for all aspects of bicycle culture and the host city. Most Festivals of Cycling seem to revolve around the sport side of cycling, with a race or two, maybe a sportive and a family event tacked on the side. But there is so much more to riding bicycles than this! An Edinburgh Festival of Cycling wouldn’t just have a few cycle races and a closed road ride for families. It wouldn’t be about “Cyclist“, it be about people who use or who would like to use a bicycle for what ever reason, therefore it would have to involve a range of cultural events, across the city. These could include:

Other ideas could involve a bike breakfast for commuters and a Munich style night ride, a time trial around Arthur’s Seat, or how about Danish style cargo bike racing on the Shore in Leith, or even a Tweed Ride, so really something for everyone!

So who thinks this is a good idea? Who wants to help make it happen? Please get in touch.

Addendum: Since coming up with idea last night, it has been pointed out to me that Melbourne has a four week Bikefest festival which has some interesting ideas. Also that there was an Edinburgh Cycling Festival last year, which was a one day event, but it hasn’t been repeated. So I have started with the help of a few other people to organise The Edinburgh Festival of Cycling [up date] which will be going into it fifth year between 8th and 18th June 2017. You can also find out more about EdFoC on twitter @edfoc, Instagram and Facebook.

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