June 2023

#SpokesBB: Bike Breakfast 2023

Our first post-covid Bike Breakfast, on 13 June, attracted its usual big turnout, with lots of opportunity to chat and a greater emphasis on local rather than national stalls. It’s really exciting that, since our last breakfast, there’s been a continued flourishing of new and/or expanding local active travel organisations – stalls included CargoBikeMovement, Spokes Porty, Infrasisters, School Bike Buses and Living Streets Edinburgh [a full list is below].

The breakfast was part of Edinburgh City Council’s run-up to Clean Air Day and part of the Climate Fringe Festival.

Breakfast speeches were introduced by Kirsty Lewin of Spokes Porty, followed by main speaker Cllr Scott Arthur, Council Transport Convener, and Sarah Boyack MSP, Labour* Net Zero Parliamentary spokesperson.

photos: Chris Hill & Dave du Feu

Interestingly, all three speakers had a similar basic message, albeit with differing emphases: change was now being seen on the ground in growing amounts, but more was needed, sooner and better.

Kirsty Lewin put it well, “I cycled through Leith Low Traffic Neighbourhood (where several new modal filters are now in place) at the weekend and was thrilled to see so many people out enjoying quiet streets, especially little children who would never have been able to cycle on these streets before the LTN.”

Kirsty also however emphasised the importance of design quality, especially when it comes to main road cycleroutes – which need to be safe and comfortable for all categories of people, and at all times.

Main speaker, Cllr Arthur, said his motivations as Transport Convener included – the climate crisis and the growth of conspiracy theories; catering better for people on lower incomes and for people with disabilities; and building greater trust and cooperation with other political parties and with local groups such as Community Councils.

In addition to continuing the CCWEL construction started by the last Council, actions of the new Council included..

  • commencing work on two LTNs and consulting on three new 20-minute neighbourhoods
  • approving segregated cycle crossing and improved pedestrian crossing at the Portobello fatality junction, to replace the initial temporary safety measures
  • obtaining funds to start redesign of the West End fatality junction
  • increasing parking fines substantially and toughening the rules
  • ending Council-subsidised electricity for EV owners
  • starting ETRO consultation for all the ‘Travelling Safely’ main-road schemes, a legal process which can allow them to be declared permanent (with or without modification, depending on in-situ experience and on public feedback).

He did accept that Edinburgh was behind some other cities, but, with the climate crisis in mind, he intended to make it a leader again – as it had been when David Begg was convener in the 1990s and won wide admiration for what were at that time very bold measures.

Spokes note: We invited David Begg back at this Spokes public meeting. DB was best known for introducing bus greenways in the face of vigorous opposition, but which then brought big improvements in timekeeping and in patronage. He also introduced bike lanes on Princes Street (advisory only in those days) but, sadly, removed by a later council. We’d love the new Council to go one better with a protected Princes Street bike route!

Sarah Boyack MSP, speaking briefly, thanked all those – campaigners and council staff – who were making things happen. More, however, is needed, including tackling the pothole scourge. Dedicated on-road cycleroutes were vital, not least to ensure infrastructure that’s safe for women and girls at night, and she congratulated InfraSisters for highlighting this issue.

Thank-you to the stallholders …

  • The Spokes stall!! – lots of #SpokesMaps bought, including ~15 of our new #EastLothian map, in addition to free maps for early arrivals
  • Edinburgh Bicycle did a massive job on chain-cleaning and kindly ran a £50 voucher prize draw
photo: Chris Hill

Councillors/MSPs at the Bike Breakfast

Politicians attending or sending apologies in advance are listed below – please tell us if anyone is omitted. All Edinburgh Councillors were invited, by email.

Ward 4 – Forth
Cllr Cammy Day, Lab – Council Leader

Ward 5 – Inverleith
Cllr Jule Bandel, Green – on Transport Cttee

Ward 7 – Sighthill/Gorgie
Cllr Ross McKenzie, Independent

Ward 8 – Colinton/Fairmilehead
*Cllr Scott Arthur, Lab – Transport Convener

Ward 9 – Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart
*Cllr David Key, SNP

Ward 11 – City Centre
*Cllr Claire Miller  Green

Ward 13 – Leith
*Cllr Chas Booth  Green

Ward 16 – Liberton/Gilmerton
Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron, Lab – Depute Lord Provost

East Lothian Council
*Cllr Shona McIntosh, Green, Musselburgh ward

Scottish Parliament
*Sarah Boyack MSP, Lab

Apologies received in advance
Cllr Adam McVey, Leader of SNP Group; *Cllr Martha Mattos Coelho, SNP

L to R: Cllr Shona McIntosh; Cllr Jule Bandel, Cllr Claire Miller; Cllr Scott Arthur; Cllr David Key; Cllr Cammy Day; Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron; Sarah Boyack MSP; Cllr Chas Booth. photo: DdF

What you can do

  • Contact your Councillors about issues that concern you. Find Edinburgh councillors here. It’s good to include all your ward councillors (you have either 3 or 4) in any email. To have maximum impact, and if you have the time, also ask if you can have an appointment to discuss your concerns at their surgery
  • Retweet our tweet about the breakfast
  • There’s a nice description of the breakfast in the Edinburgh Reporter. Have a read!


  • Many thanks to the Council for hosting, to the Spokes organisers, to all the stall holders, and to everyone who came along
  • Costs were met through the Government grant to the Council for promotion of active travel (this grant is specifically for promotion and cannot be used for infrastructure), topped up with a contribution from Spokes
  • * We try to avoid having two speakers from the same party at our breakfasts. However, we wanted an MSP and we successively invited appropriate SNP and Green MSPs (4 in total) in the preceding weeks, none of whom was available, so we didn’t have an MSP speaker planned. But, on the morning, Sarah Boyack MSP came along off her own bat to the breakfast, so we offered her a brief slot.

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