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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 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!

Vote For Edinburgh: MONOPOLY Here and Now

Vote For Edinburgh: MONOPOLY Here and Now

I am taking a lead from EdinBlogger to become part of the campaign to put Edinburgh on the Board, the Monopoly Board that is.

MONOPOLY’s 80th birthday is fast approaching, to celebrate they will be creating an updated global board, we need your help to make sure Edinburgh makes it onto the board! The cities with the most votes from around the world will take pride and place on the new MONOPOLY HERE & NOW: World Edition game launching this autumn.

How to Vote for Edinburgh

Fans of Edinburgh and/or MONOPOLY will have until midnight on Wednesday 4th March to select Edinburgh from a list of 80 global destinations that will be featured in the MONOPOLY HERE & NOW: World Edition. Just click on the image below.

Vote for Edinburgh in MONOPOLY

Once you have done so, make sure you tell all your friends and family to do the same!

City of Edinburgh Councillors and twitter: Updated

City of Edinburgh Councillors and twitter: Updated

An updated a list of City of Edinburgh Councillors (post 2012 elections) who have Twitter accounts (not all are "active"), but are as far as I can tell, are genuine. I am also on Twitter @kim_harding.
CouncillorPolitical PartyTwitter address
Elaine AitkenConservativeN/A
Ewan AitkenLabour@EwanAitken
Robert C AldridgeLib-DemN/A
Jeremy R BalfourConservativeN/A
Eric BarryLabourN/A
Angela BlacklockLabourN/A
Mike BridgmanSNPN/A
Deidre BrockSNP@DeidreBrock
Gordon BuchanConservativeN/A
Tom BuchananSNP@tombbuchanan
Steve BurgessGreen@SteveAMBurgess
Andrew BurnsLabourAndrew Burns
Ronald CairnsSNPN/A
Steve CardownieSNPN/A
Maggie ChapmanGreen@MaggieEdinburgh
Maureen M ChildLabour@MaureenChild1
Joanna ColemanLib-Dem@Joanna_Coleman
Bill CookLabourN/A
Jennifer A DaweLib-DemN/A
Cammy DayLabour@cllrcammyday
Charles DundasLib-Dem@cdundas
Paul G EdieLib-Dem@paul_edie
Nick Elliott-CannonSNPN/A
Paul GodzikLabour@PaulGodzik
George GrubbLib-DemN/A
Norma HartLabour@normamayhart
Stephen HawkinsLib-DemN/A
Ricky HendersonLabour@henderson_ricky
Lesley HindsLabour@LAHinds
Allan G JacksonConservativeN/A
Alison JohnstoneGreen@AlisonJohnstone
Colin KeirSNPN/A
Louise LangLib-Dem@CllrLouiseLang
Jim LowrieLib-DemN/A
Gordon MackenzieLib-DemN/A
Kate MacKenzieConservativeN/A
Marilyne A MacLarenLib-DemN/A
Mark McInnesConservative@Morningsidemark
Stuart Roy McIvorSNPN/A
Tim McKayLib-DemN/A
Eric MilliganLabourN/A
Elaine MorrisSNPN/A
Joanna MowatConservative@jomowat
Rob MunnSNP@robm2
Gordon J MunroLabourN/A
Alastair PaisleyConservativeN/A
Gary PeacockLib-DemN/A
Ian PerryLabourN/A
Alasdair RankinSNPN/A
Cameron RoseConservative@cameronrose
Jason G RustConservativeN/A
Conor SnowdenLib-Dem@DrSnowden
Marjorie ThomasLib-DemN/A
Stefan TymkewyczSNP@tymkewycz
Phil WheelerLib-DemN/A
Iain WhyteConservativeN/A
Donald WilsonLabourN/A
Norrie WorkSNPN/A

If you spot any errors, please let me know, I am also on Twitter @kim_harding.

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Thoughts on the Spokes Hustings

Thoughts on the Spokes Hustings

I was at the Spokes Hustings the other night and since then I have had a number of thoughts about it churning through my mind, and so have decided to write them down here. It was good to hear that all parties support the commitment of 5% of the transport budget to cycling, which was a good start. Generally there was a positive attitude to cycle friendly policies, which is hardly surprising as these councillors were trying to capture the cycling vote.

However, there were other things which stuck in my mind, such as Cllr Gordon Mackenzie (Lib Dem) saying that the Council couldn’t remove on street parking from bus lanes or the “Quality Cycle Corridor” because people depend on their cars to drive to the local shops. What? The reason we have so many local shops is because Edinburgh still has people living in the city centre, and they shop in places within walking distance. If the on street parking was removed from Causewayside, the antiques shops would still be there, it is just the residents of the Grange and Newington would have to walk 5-10 minutes to get there. The reason those shops are there is because the customers live nearby and not because there is on street parking. Come on, Cllr Mackenzie, have you actually gone and looked at other cities which are pedestrian and cycle friendly? One thing you will find is that they have lots of local shops, because people can walk and cycle to them. It is the places where people are car dependent that don’t have local shops, which is the result of failed transport policies making people car dependent and causing the death of the High Street in clone towns across the UK. Also, Cllr Mackenzie, when you say people have to be able to drive to their local Health Centre, have you talked to the doctors about this? Increasingly the medical profession is waking up to the benefits of active travel, and encourage people to be more active in their daily lives. This includes walking to their local Health Centre. It should be noted though that Cllr Mackenzie is a regular cyclist and the current Transport Convener of the City of Edinburgh Council, who has done much to support cycling in Edinburgh.

Then there was Cllr Lesley Hinds (Lab), who said that she thought cycling was a good idea, but doesn’t cycle herself because she doesn’t feel safe. The interesting thing here was the reaction of avid cyclists, who all told her that cycling was safe and completely ignored what she was trying to tell them. This is important, as it has a dramatic effect on policies to increase cycling: we are constantly being told that it is safe to cycle, and that we just have to share the roads. We are told that we just need to train more people to cycle with the motor traffic, and cycling will become even safer. Then, once a critical mass of cyclists on the roads has been achieved, we can have more infrastructure to accommodate cycling on the roads. Well, we have had cycle training for children for 60 years, and yet we haven’t seen this increase in safety, just a decline in the numbers cycling and walking as transport on a regular basis. We need to learn to listen to people like Cllr Hinds who say they would cycle as transport, if they felt it was safe. It is the provision of infrastructure to make cycling feel safer and more convenient that increases cycling rates, and not the other way around. Experience from other countries has shown that, when safe and convenient routes are provided between places people want to go, cycling rates increase rapidly.

Instead, British transport policy has historically been aimed at making driving easier, and at the same time taking away choice by making it harder to walk and cycle, through measures such as “traffic smoothing” and “cycle networks” which look like they have been designed by a spider on caffeine. This is something we need to turn around. The one piece of news Cllr Hinds gave the meeting, that came as a surprise to all (including Cllr Mackenzie), was that TIE (the company set up to run Edinburgh’s trams) intends to renege on its promise to carry bikes on the trams when they start running. This would be a very foolish move on their part.

Next on the list was Cllr Cameron Rose (Con), a long time Spokes member and regular utility cyclist. Given that description, you might expect Cllr Rose to be supportive of active travel, but he wasn’t keen on the idea of spending money on it, well he is a Tory. More oddly, he seemed to think that we should “experiment” with different solutions, rather that using existing best practice from places where cycling is common, and where they have already carried out these “experiments” and found out what works. The reason given by Cllr Rose was that the Netherlands are flat, an argument which I really can’t get my head around, what has topography got to do with safe junction design and the principles of separation? If he was trying to suggest that high levels of cycling can only be found in places that are flat, he should try telling that to people in cities throughout the Alps where cycling rates are high. I have personally seen this in Salzburg, Innsbruck and Bozen/Bolzano, these places are not exactly flat. I do however like his strong support for the idea of having a bicycle share scheme in Edinburgh, similar to those found in cities across the world.

I don’t remember Cllr Steve Burgess (Green) saying anything I could disagree with, indeed he seemed to have read the Pedal on Parliament manifesto and was supporting all the things we are calling for. Then again, I would be seriously worried if the Greens weren’t supportive of Active Travel.

Finally there was Cllr Alasdair Rankin (SNP) who seemed a wee bit unclear as to just what the SNP policy on cycling is – he is not alone there, non of us are clear on that. He was, however, keen to take on board the need for change. I just wish Keith Brown MSP, the Transport Minister, was the same. Currently the SNP’s transport policy seems to be stuck somewhere in the 1980’s, building more roads without strategic thought for the future. For example, the new Forth road crossing has been designed with no provision at all for cycling or walking (which came as news to Cllr Rankin). At the end of the day, using the roads should be safe for all, and no one should have to take their life in their hands to get from A to B.

The one glimmer of hope on the SNP front comes from Marco Biagi MSP, whose response to the Pedal on Parliament manifesto I received today. He says: “The Pedal on Parliament manifesto is a set of practical and helpful proposals that set out very clearly the action that must be taken at all levels if cycling is to grow and flourish in Scotland.” Let us hope that he can persuade the rest of his party of this.

City of Edinburgh Councillors who have a Blog

City of Edinburgh Councillors who have a Blog

As part of doing my bit for local democracy I though I would follow up my list of City of Edinburgh Councillors with Twitter accounts with a list of Councillors who have a blog, not all are active:

Attention: The internal data of table “2” is corrupted!

If you spot any errors, please let me know.

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Please note: this post was written before the before the 2012 elections, so some of those above are no longer Councillors, when I find time, I may get around to updating the list in a new post.

City of Edinburgh Councillors and twitter

City of Edinburgh Councillors and twitter

Attention: The internal data of table “1” is corrupted!

If you spot any errors, please let me know, I am also on Twitter @kim_harding.

With the May 2012 elections coming up Dan Phillips has created this Twitter List of all the City of Edinburgh Council candidates he can find.

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A message to Edinburgh Councillors on 2012/13 transport budget [Final update]

A message to Edinburgh Councillors on 2012/13 transport budget [Final update]

Following Edinburgh City councillors taking a remarkable decision on cycling investment in the Council 2012/13 budget, which set a completely new standard for other councils. In which they decided that 5% of of the transport capital budget will be invested in cycling infrastructure and projects. I decided to send a message to my local councillors (via write to them) to show my support and make a few suggestions for the future:

Dear Gordon Mackenzie, Steve Burgess, Cameron Rose and Ian Perry,

I am writing to express my support for the Council’s decision to allocate a minimum of 5% of transport spend to cycling. It is good to see this progress towards achieving Council’s Charter of Brussels commitments of increasing cycling to at least a 15% of the modal split of all trips by the year

Active travel is a great idea as it achieves so many policy objectives: it is clean, it is green, it reduces congestion in towns and cities, it can boost local economic activity, and it is healthy (active people, such as regular cyclists, live longer). In addition, people who use active ways of travel to get to work are more productive, and it is relatively cheap and therefore has great potential to save money (the future savings in health cost alone make worthwhile).

Now that the money has been committed to boosting active travel, please ensure that it is spent on high quality infrastructural improvements. Cyclist dismount signs and routes just to encourage “leisure cycling” are a waste of money. We need to make all areas of the city safely accessible by bicycle and these cycle routes must go where people want to go. This means having safe and, if needs be, fully separated provision on primary routes, as this is the only way to encourage fewer car journeys.

Shared pavements are not acceptable to either pedestrians or cyclist and so waste money. London has shown that is possible to spend a lot of money on paint and get badly wrong. Glasgow has started to put in fully separated on street cycle tracks which have been descried as “one of the best examples” in the UK (I will be go to look at these on the 18th Feb on a study tour with the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain which you are welcome to join). If Glasgow can do it, then Edinburgh can do it better. Make the city accessible by bicycle and people will choose to cycle.

This is a great start, lets make Edinburgh a shining beacon to the rest of the UK. The is much talk increasing cycling rates in other cities (notable London which has spent so much and achieved so little) and The Times is run a high profile campaign to improve safety for cyclist. So now it the time for Edinburgh to show the way and show just what can be done.

Yours sincerely,

Kim Harding

These are the replies in order received.

Cllr. Cameron Rose (Conservative):


Thanks for your email and all the comments it contained.

As for me I would like a Boris Bikes type scheme in Edinburgh as well. And will have it in the manifesto.

I generally support the moves to encourage greater cycling. I’m not sure if we’ve met at the traffic lights or the Bike Breakfast but I’m on the pragmatic end of the pro functional cycling lobby! That means for me personally about 1500 miles per year.

All read and noted.

Best wishes,


So there we have a preview of Cllr. Cameron Rose’s manifesto. Personally I would also support having a bicycle share scheme in Edinburgh as this could do do much to encourage utility cycling, but it would also need some real improvements in cycle infrastructure in order to work profitably.

Cllr Ian Perry (Labour):

Thank you for your comments

Yours sincerely

Ian Perry

Cllr Steve Burgess (Green):

Dear Kim,

Thanks for your letter highlighting the importance of funding for cycling.

As you may be aware Green Councillors and MSPs have also consistently pushed at council and parliamentary level for a diversion of funds away from the private car towards spending on active travel. Alison Johnstone MSP and myself were at the recent rally outside the Scottish Executive to lobby the Government about its intention to reduce its funding.

Following several letters like yours, yesterday I raised the question of where the council funding would be spent with the Head of Transport. His response was that the funds would be channelled into the existing Active Travel Plan to bring forward projects that are currently unfunded.

I expressed the view to him that if the Council is serious about achieving the target of 15% of commutes by cycle by 2020, that we’d have to make a lot more people feel safer about taking to the roads on their bikes. Interestingly he said there’s a lot can be done but there has to be the political will. So please keep up the lobbying!


Cllr Gordon Mackenzie (Lib Dem):


thank you for your e-mail. I was pleased with the outcome of the budget; not only the Cycling committment but also the additional funding for Schools, Older People and the Environment. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work but the Cycling element was definitely a highlight for me as well.

It’s fair to say the decision to allocate a minimum of 5% for Cycling (and make provision to increase by 1% annually) has been well received both locally and nationally. I was a bit disappointed Labour and the Conservative didn’t have something similar in their budget proposals (the Greens haven’t put forward a budget for a few years) but hopefully they will get behind the decision and respond to it in their manifestos for the forthcoming elections – it certainly something to press them on.

It’s also been good to see quite a number of supportive e-mails coming in since the decision. Cycling doesn’t have the profile given to car use so the more people who contact Councillors of all parties to support this initiative the better.

As for your suggestions on how we use the funding, I’m also keen to see the money is well spent and have been in touch with Dave (du Feu) since the decision was confirmed, to see about using the SPOKES network to get views. Dave has kindly referred me to a survey on priorities SPOKES did in 2009 which is a good starting point. I’ve also been following the chat on the Forums about priorities, I’ll use the Council’s Cycle Forum (which I Chair!) and perhaps use a focus groups approach with some cyclists, non-cyclists and businesses to get a wider range of views on what might work best for Edinburgh.

All in all I think the future for cycling in Edinburgh is even more positive, in light of this decision, and thank you once again for your support.


The take home message from these replies is that our Councillors are willing to support an increase in cycling if they are encouraged to do so by the voters. It is up to us to keep asking for better facilities and send messages of support when they do move in the right direction. So don’t just sit there, write to them, politicians are there to serve us, the people.

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