September 2018

#SpokesComp 2018 – Cycling Lives Transformed!!

Being able to cycle more (9 people); feeling safer or more confident cycling (8 people); feeling better or healthier (7 people); getting family or friends onto bikes (6 people) – many such inspiring and touching personal transformations were related by entrants to our summer competition.

Other transformations experienced by 4 or more people, thanks to their bike, included…

E-bike Corstorphine to Kelpies by our 4th prizewinner Councillor Mark “I shed a stone” Brown!

  • Losing weight
  • Getting out into nature and pleasant surroundings
  • The pleasure of helping other people
  • Living an environmentally-aware lifestyle
  • Being able to carry things (including children!)
  • Increased convenience, such as time saving.

What caused these transformations?

  • Improved cycling infrastructure, enabling a safer or more pleasant journey – this was the most common factor (8 people).   Sometimes a genuinely new facility, sometimes just changing job or house and finding a nicer ride to work, shops or wherever.   Specific routes mentioned more than once were – the Meadows to Innocent segregated route; routes through the Meadows; and the canal towpath.
  • Buying an e-bike (5 people) was huge!  All 5 entrants had massively increased their cycling, three had lost 1-2 stones, one had lost “a ton of weight” and the fifth was slim already!
  • Adaptive bikes/ trailers/ cargo bikes (4 people)  These specialist machines can bring wonderful new opportunities, beyond the reach of a standard bike.  It is a message to the Council to ensure that routes cater for them, with carefully designed entry points.
  • Two people each were inspired by the Edinburgh-wide 20mph and by taking part in charity cycling events.
  • The range of other inspirations was staggering! – read the entries and see below.

Two Saltersgate students on tricycles in the A68 tunnel on Woodburn to Whitecraig cycle path


Note – the complete set of entries is in a 10MB download below.

First prize went to Mary Higgins, a teacher from Saltersgate Special School in Dalkeith.  The introduction of tricycles “has transformed cycling opportunities and skills development for our young people with complex learning disabilities.” … “Cycling is now seen as an important life skill in our school” … “Some parents have been amazed at the transformation.”

Mary herself has found it a real revelation:  “I would never have thought that tricycles could be so much fun and lead to such an amazing transformation.”  You’ll find her full entry, along with all the others, in the download below.

SecondMark James, Dunbar – A stunning pictorial entry of how a series of trailers owned from 1990 to the present have enabled him to carry everything from shopping and the children to a 147kg load of logs.  Mark’s discovery of bike trailers has inspired friends to do similar, and has enabled a largely car-free life.

ThirdCharlie Wood, Edinburgh – Everyone with children must feel the wish to raise them in a healthy and environmentally-aware way.  Charlie describes beautifully how having children inspired a growing awareness of the importance and value of getting about by bike, both for himself and the family.  This in turn led to involvement in cycling politics, to seek safer and more pleasant conditions for everyone.   “I wouldn’t have seen myself doing this 10 years ago – it’s a transformation for me.”

FourthCllr Mark Brown, Edinburgh – Cllr Brown has made up for his 20 non-cycling years, pedalling over 1000 miles, for work and leisure, in the 4 months since getting his e-bike, inspired and supported by Graeme from Harts Cyclery.  Named Horatio, the bike can be seen anywhere from the City Chambers to the Kelpies!

FifthJulia Dorin, Dunbar – A great entry showing how Julia’s bike commute from Waverley Station to the Infirmary has been transformed by no fewer than 3 separate infrastructure projects – the short segregated lane at St.Leonards (“hopefully a sign of a future norm”), lighting of the Innocent Tunnel (thus avoiding winter trips via Cameron Toll roundabout) and, most importantly, the new path past Craigmillar Castle to the Infirmary (replacing the previous stepped path).  Julia’s commute is now “one of the highlights of my day.”


See the full set of entries in this 10MB pdf – anonymised except for the top entries, and with prize-winners first and runners-up second (runners-up get a consolation prize of one Spokes map).


Urban Arrow cargo bike – Last year’s prize of a free day’s hire transformed Kate Sugden’s cycling life!

  • 67% of female entrants were prizewinners, but only 29% of males!
  • 3 of the 4 entries from the Lothians were prizewinners.
  • The transformation for one of our prizewinners resulted from our 2017 competition!  Kate Sugden won a day’s free hire of the EdFoC Urban Arrow cargo-bike last year – and loved it so much that she bought one to transport her daughter.  And that transformative experience won her a prize this year.  To top it all, she was placed in exactly the same position (7th) last year and this!
  • Conventional wisdom says e-bikes are for the lazy, but our entries suggest they can make you lose weight – and use a bike far more than ever, often after years or decades of non-cycling.


It was great to see 3 entrants thanking individuals in their local bike shop (two of whom are Spokes members) for particularly helpful service and support.  Use your local bike shop!!  The praiseworthy individuals were…


As we said earlier, the main reasons people had experienced a transformation in their cycling life were – infrastructure improvements, getting an e-bike, getting a specially adapted bike, the Council’s city-wide 20mph and involvement in charity cycling.  But here are some of the many other ideas that have transformed people’s cycling experience …

  • Get a bike-friendly workplace – NB here’s how
  • Go on a course for novice, scared or new cyclists – example
  • Ditch your bike computer (look at nature instead!)
  • Get puncture-proof tyres
  • Use panniers instead of a rucksack
  • Keep your bike in tip-top condition
  • Get a hub gear instead of derailleur
  • Realise that you’re no longer seen as eccentric by the general public – you’re seen as healthy and environmentally conscious.
  • Try standing on the pedals!


The top prizewinner gets to choose their prize from the list, second chooses second, and so on.


Many thanks to you if you entered, even if you didn’t win this time.  Thanks also to the organisers, the 4 Spokes Resources and Planning Group judges and to Cllr Scott Arthur, our outside judge.   Cllr Arthur is a Spokes member, a member of the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee, and a firm backer of a cycle/walk-friendly city.


  • Look through the entries carefully – do any inspire you to try the same?  Are there any you could recommend to friends, colleagues or family?
  • See the results of our many previous exciting, amusing and/or interesting competitions here.
  • If you’ve a great idea for next year’s competition, let us know!  A topic that is useful to other people and which lots of people are able to enter is what we need.   A couple of interesting ideas already…
    • How I encouraged or inspired someone else to start using a bike, or to cycle more – and the results.  Could be a friend, child, parent, colleague, social media contact – anyone!
    • Design or sketch an A4 poster to encourage people to use a bike for their everyday purposes, or leisure, or to use a bike more.  We could invite school entries in addition to the usual ‘anyone’ entries.
  • Please retweet our tweet about this article.

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