June 2013
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Brilliant Bike Breakfast

This year’s June 19 Spokes Bike Breakfast was the best so far, with record numbers [sadly, breakfasts ran out before all were fed!] …

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Some great pictures including the above, were taken by Leojaleo [flickr name], who told us “These are my payment for the great job Spokes has been doing in Edinburgh.”   There are more pictures on the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling  flickr group.   Please tell us of any more Bike Breakfast online photo sets.

Also a nice Breakfast write-up from Edinburgh Council Leader Cllr Andrew Burns, who got a round of applause from the crowd for cycling to work every day.

Councillors/MSPs at the Bike Breakfast 

[please tell us if anyone is omitted]

Ward 5 – Inverleith
Cllr Nigel Bagshaw*  Green
Ward 9 – Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart
Cllr Andrew Burns  Lab [Council Leader; and see above]
Cllr Gavin Corbett*  Green
Ward 10 – Meadows/Morningside
Cllr Melanie Main*  Green
Ward 12 – Leith Walk
Cllr Maggie Chapman  Green
Ward 13 – Leith
Cllr Chas Booth*  Green
Cllr Gordon Munro*  Lab
Ward 15 – Southside/Newington
Cllr Steve Burgess  Green
Cllr Jim Orr*  SNP [Transport Vice-Convener: speaker, see below]
Ward 16 – Liberton/Gilmerton
Cllr Bill Cook  Lab
Ward 17 – Portobello/Craigmillar
Cllr Maureen Child*  Lab

Scottish Parliament

Alison Johnstone MSP*  Green [speaker, see below]
Sarah Boyack MSP*  Lab

* = member of Spokes

Stalls

  • Edinburgh Bicycle did a massive job on instant bike-maintenance and ran a prize draw, won by C McMaster, Ian White and Barbara Seel.
  • Police Scotland security-marked large numbers of bikes.
  • Sustrans – info stall
  • Edinburgh Council – info stall

Speeches

For Spokes   Dave du Feu thanked the breakfast organisers from Spokes and the Council, the feeder-ride organisers, and the stall holders.

He congratulated the Council on sticking to the budget commitment to allocate 5% of transport spending, rising by 1% a year, 6% in 2013/14, to cycling projects – this is a really big decision, which sets Edinburgh apart from every other Scottish local authority.   There are positive results in a wide range of areas, for example…

However 2012/13 had also seen big disappointments…

  • The original Leith Walk refurbishment proposals seemed a real wasted opportunity – but after very extensive lobbying by Greener Leith, Spokes and others, and with behind-the-scenes pressure from Sustrans [who have match-funding power] the council’s revised proposals were a big improvement and are still being worked on.
  • Main roads into the city are the source of the most serious crashes involving cyclists, and are frightening to many.   The Active Travel Action Plan includes an action to improve their cycle facilities, yet almost nothing has been done.  Furthermore, the proposed action is insufficient, as the council should be trialling segregated and/or mandatory facilities on such routes.
  • Princes Street – we remain astonished that the Council published plans which prohibit cycling on the proposed traffic-free side of Princes Street, the entire area between the shops and the tramlines.  The future is still unknown.

It was vital for all concerned people to lobby their own councillors and ask them to raise cycling and transport issues such as the above.   Speak to or email your own councillors, not just those responsible for transport policy.

For the Council   Cllr Jim Orr is ‘cycling supremo’ – Deputy Convenor of the Transport Committee and with a special responsibility for cycling.

Cllr Orr began by repeating the importance of the 5%->6%->… budget commitment, emphasising that budget decisions are taken year by year, and the increase would only continue if councillors remained convinced that cycling is a priority.   Thus lobbying of councillors by ordinary members of the public on a wide range of cycling issues remains vital.  Councillors also need to see that their efforts are appreciated, and it is helpful to praise new achievements as well as to point out what is needed next or what could have been done better.

Cllr Orr had recently visited the Netherlands, along with Glasgow’s cycling supremo Cllr Frank McAveety and Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP.   He had been hugely impressed and hoped to import lessons into Edinburgh’s cycling future.

On Princes Street, the Council recognised the huge disappointment over the cycling element of the proposals, and would be reconsidering the issue, with a likely decision in August.  The final decision would also depend on what the Council decided over bus routes.

Finally, Cllr Orr praised Spokes’s efforts over the years and urged people to become members so as to keep up with current cycling issues and support Spokes’s campaigns.  [We are pleased to say that quite a few membership forms were completed subsequently!]

From the Scottish Parliament  Alison Johnstone MSP  spoke of the work of the Cross-Party Cycling Group, of which she is a founder and Co-Convener, along with Jim Eadie MSP.  Current issues include arguing for Strict Liability rules [see Bulletin 116, pullout supplement] and the National Planning Framework.

We awaited the ‘refreshed’ version of the Government’s Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, CAPS.  Some new initiatives were expected within it, but she feared that it would not include the new step-change in funding which would be essential to meet government cycle-use targets.

Like the other speakers, Alison urged everyone concerned about improving conditions for cycling to keep lobbying their councillors and MSPs – the combined weight of many letters on individual cycling topics makes a big difference to the politicians, and Edinburgh is an example of that.

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