August 2022

A tribute to Sandy Scotland

We are very sad to hear of Sandy Scotland’s recent death, following illness. Sandy joined Spokes in the 1980s and was pivotal in our work for several decades, up to the present, being central to many projects and campaigns to achieve better conditions for getting about by bike in Edinburgh and the Lothians. He was a long-standing active member of Spokes Planning Group, eventually becoming its coordinator until stepping down in 2020.

Sandy Scotland in 2006 with then Transport Convener Cllr Lesley Hinds and Council Leader Andrew Burns [photo: DdF]

Sandy had voluntary involvement in many related organisations – including as a SEStran board member, Sustrans UK board member, and a founding trustee, long-standing Board member and Finance Committee Chair of Cycling Scotland. He also had European-level cycling interests, including attending many of the annual Velo City international conferences. These multiple involvements resulted in Sandy providing a highly fruitful spreading of ideas and opportunities.

One early example was the Pilton Path project, where Sandy’s Sustrans involvement helped bring Sustrans founder and CEO John Grimshaw to Edinburgh for a full week to supervise a remarkable Spokes 100-person volunteer project constructing a 1km cycleroute on a disused rail line in the north of the city, linking the existing Roseburn-Leith path to the foreshore and thus to Cramond. Political skills were also to the fore when sceptical Council officers at the last minute suddenly revealed that the project would require Road Construction Consent, with only 24 hours left for neighbour notifications! At a tense meeting in the then Highways Department, hosted by Spokes member Councillor Donald Gorrie, officers reluctantly produced the relevant paperwork, which Spokes then delivered to neighbours by bike!

Other projects in which Sandy was very influential included blocking a council proposal to bring the North Edinburgh path down to ground level at Crewe Toll roundabout, when the existing former rail overbridge was removed to widen the road. After an major campaign, with extensive support by many individual Spokes members, the Council had a rethink, installing the ‘Red Bridge’ which retained Edinburgh’s remarkable cross-city Roseburn-Leith offroad route without a single road crossing – the bridge also forming a vital car-free connection for local people [see tweet below from Cllr Nicolson].

Spokes 1986 Pilton Path construction project
The Crewe Toll ‘Red Bridge,’ preserving a car-free offroad route from Roseburn to Leith [photo: Tim Smith]

The Council has gone through three main, overlapping, phases of cycling provision: the offroad path network, then the onroad coloured lanes, and now the protected routes which are finally beginning to appear. Each phase grew bike use, thus making councillors more receptive to continued pressure for better – and to resist the motoring backlash which grew as roadspace reallocation became an increasingly central issue. Sandy, with his widespread knowledge of European cities, was active in pushing this progression.

In the present electronic days, it is hard to recall that in order to see a Planning Application, or a Traffic Order, or to monitor the Transport Committee, it used to be necessary to go in person to the Council offices; and an objection had to be typed or handwritten, then posted. For years, Sandy devoted large amounts of time to this on a regular weekly basis and, whilst the Council did not always listen, there are also many routes, bike parking locations, and other facilities which would not have happened without this assiduous and consistent effort.

As a professional accountant, Sandy did the accounts for many charities at a reduced fee, notably for many early years of the Bike Station. Sandy would also frequently turn up to help with the donkey-work at events, such as the annual Edinburgh to St Andrews Ride, and the big Spokes mailouts.

Sandy (middle table) at a Spokes mailout [photo: Tim Smith]

Sandy’s other great love, of course, was cricket umpiring, in which he was greatly respected [see tweet below from Cricket Scotland Match Officials Association].

Following the Spokes tweet about Sandy’s death, many tributes have been received, and we close with some of them. More can be found in replies to the tweet and in this City Cycling Edinburgh page.

[Click images if you wish to go to the actual tweets]

Former Council Leader, Andrew Burns
Former Council Leader, Donald Anderson
Daisy Narayanan, Edinburgh Council Head of Placemaking and Mobility, formerly Director of Urbanism at Sustrans
David Hunter, Living Streets Edinburgh
Kirsty Lewin, former government Active Travel officer
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, former Edinburgh Transport Convener
Councillor Vicky Nicolson, local resident near the Red Bridge
Rona Gibb, Manager, Paths for All
Scottish Hazards charity – Sandy was the accountant for countless small charities, keeping his fees as low as possible, and this is a typical tribute from one such
Cycling Scotland

Sandy was also hugely involved in cricket umpiring, and below is the tweet from their Association

Cricket Scotland Match Umpires Association

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