I took part in the Pedal on Parliament last year. It was a heartening sight, with thousands of cyclist meeting in the Meadows and then cycling down the Royal Mile to a rally in front of Holyrood Parliament. Just for once, we owned Edinburgh’s narrow, dangerous streets.
Pedal on Parliament is happening again, on Sunday 19th May. Assemble at the Meadows to take part in the ride, which kicks off at 3pm.
What we want
1. Proper funding for cycling.
2. Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.
3. Slower speeds where people live, work and play
4. Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
5. Improved road traffic law and enforcement
6. Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
7. A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training
8. Improved statistics supporting decision-making and policy
Making Scotland a cycle-friendly nation
The great city is not the one that has highways, but one where a child on a tricycle or bicycle can go safely everywhere. – Enrique Peñalosa
Cycling should be the obvious solution to many of Scotland’s ills. It is cheap, healthy, democratic and convivial, benefits local economies and makes the streets a safer place for all. Cyclist benefit themselves – physiologically their bodies are, on average, many years ‘younger’ than non-cyclists’, and they suffer less from the ‘western’ diseases that beset Scotland so – and they benefit others, cutting congestion and improving air quality. And yet bikes barely seem to be taken seriously as a mode of transport while the majority of Scots don’t cycle, simply because they feel it is too risky. Although statistically the benefits of cycling vastly outweigh the risks, poor design and maintenance of roads and cycle routes, dangerous driving, and lack of enforcement mean those risks remain unacceptably high. Making Scotland safe for cycling and walking, and – more importantly – making it feel safe, could transform our cities and villages and the lives of the people who live in them.
The Scottish government has already made a start. It led the world in signing up to a low-carbon future, part of which will include much higher levels of cycling. The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS) set the target of having 10% of all journeys in Scotland made by bike by 2020. Whilst many of the individual points in CAPS are welcome, CAPS does not add up to a coherent, researched and costed path to reach the 2020 target – and nor has it received anything like the necessary funding. Furthermore, even the existing funding levels are under threat. The history of UK cycling policy is full of strategies which have been quietly shelved when it becomes clear that their targets are not going to be met. We hope the Scottish government will not join Westminster in this hall of shame.
We call on all Scotland’s politicians, of all parties, to sign up to the following eight point manifesto in order to make cycling a realistic choice for everyone, from eight to eighty – and show the rest of the UK that cycling doesn’t just belong on continental Europe, but in the country where it all began:
1. Proper funding for cycling, with a high and rising share of the transport budget committed to cycling nationally, and locally.
If cycling is to reach 10% of all trips then there needs be serious investment. We ask the Scottish government to to commit a minimum of 5% of its transport budget – revenue and capital – to cycling within an overall commitment of 10% of the transport budget to active travel. Further, local authorities should also commit a share of their transport revenue and capital budgets to cycling at least in proportion with the percentage of people cycling to work or school in their area until in total, spending on cycling from all sources reaches a target of £25 per head per year.
To put this into perspective, 5% of the £2bn annual Scottish transport budget equates roughly to £100m, or £20 per head, which is comparable to the £1.32bn over 11 years that the Low Carbon Scotland report proposed spending on active travel (including walking). At the moment in Scotland actual spending is nearer £2-£3 per head. In contrast, in 2010, the Netherlands spent €30 per head (around £25) on installing and upgrading its cycling infrastructure which is already streets ahead of anything found here. Cycling England’s 2005-2011 Cycling City and Towns project invested around £10 per head and achieved significant growth in everyday cycle use, saving around £2.5 for every £1 spent, principally in reduced congestion. Other studies have shown that money invested on cycling and walking networks can pay back up to nineteen times the amount spent, a better rate of return than any other transport investment. If cycling levels rise to 13%, the benefit to Scotland would be between £1-2bn.
2. Design cycling into all of Scotland’s roads and junctions, with improved and strengthened national design guidelines in line with best practice internationally.
Improved provision for cycling must include a commitment to transforming Scotland’s roads and junctions. The existing design guidelines, Cycling by Design, should be revised in line with best practice internationally – particularly drawing on the experience of the Netherlands where 25% of trips are by bike. These standards should be incorporated into the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges and local authority road design guidance and should form minimum national standards for any new road or any road being substantially maintained or upgraded, whether local or trunk road. In addition, the Scottish Government should investigate whether it is possible for these standards to be made binding on roads authorities. Each local authority should commit to creating a dense network of direct and dedicated cycling routes with separation from traffic where needed, particularly on busy roads. Cycling infrastructure should be suitable for cyclists of all kinds, whether fast commuters or children on their way to school. Importantly, it should not bring cyclists into conflict with either pedestrians or heavy traffic. Such designs don’t just benefit cyclists, they benefit everyone who uses the roads.
3. Safer speeds where people live, work and play.
There are significant road safety benefits to a 20 mph speed limit. In residential areas, the presumption should be that roads authorities should apply 20mph speed limits as the norm in these areas. Lower speed limits should also be considered for unclassified rural roads where all road traffic faces a completely unacceptable risk of accident.
4. Build increased cycling into local transport strategies.
Local councils are best placed to know how cycling and active travel can be improved in its own area. Each local authority should be required produce its own local cycling action plan with clear targets to increase cycling levels in line with the national target of 10%, using the existing cycling levels as a guideline. Funding to support this should be ring-fenced and councils required to report against their progress every year. As well as working towards a coherent joined up network (see point 2), plans should include integration with public transport, including buses and trains, making cycling a seamless and practical part of even longer journeys. Local authorities should take cyclists into account when drawing up their maintenance plans, with a duty to give equal consideration to off-road tracks and infrastructure when planning gritting, road cleaning and repairs. Resurfacing roads and fixing potholes should take cyclists’ needs into consideration as well as motorists.
5. Improved road traffic law and enforcement.
While acknowledging that road traffic law is effectively reserved to the UK Government, traffic law must do more to protect the most vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians, children and older people. The CAPS already includes a commitment to investigate the feasibility of introducing ‘strict liability’ – we would reiterate that this must not be sidelined. Restrictions on parking in bike lanes and on pavements should be strictly enforced and, given a lack of police action on these issues, those local authorities that have not requested decriminalisation of parking enforcement should be encouraged to do so. Where 20mph zones have been brought in they should be properly policed and sentencing must be appropriate when drivers cause harm.
6. A comprehensive package to eliminate the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians.
This is a pressing problem. Heavy lorries are associated with a disproportionately high risk of death or very serious injury to cyclists and pedestrians. For example, despite being just 6% of road traffic, lorries were involved in around 20% of all cyclists’ fatalities in London. CAPS already has targets for reducing cycling casualties but the onus must not just be on the cyclists to keep themselves safe. The Scottish government should engage with the UK Department of Transport with a view to developing a comprehensive package of measures to reduce the risk to cyclists and pedestrians, based on up to date evidence of what works. These might include better training, mirrors, sensors and warnings, or limitations on movements of large freight vehicles during the morning and evening peaks. Equally they might include complete redesign of junctions to remove conflict between bikes and lorries.
7. A strategic and properly funded programme of road user training.
Much is made of developing training for cyclists in the CAPS yet Bikeability is not fully funded, and Cycling Scotland is dependent on volunteers to carry out vital training in schools. But training should not be confined to children – nor even just to cyclists. All Scottish residents should have access to affordable cycle training, whether children, adult returning cyclists, and those in later life. Further, HGV drivers, bus drivers and other professional drivers should be required to take an on-bike qualification (or a theoretical module if physically unable to cycle) as part of their licensing requirement and be made aware of the needs of both pedestrians and cyclists, and the Scottish government should press the UK government to introduce these measures .
8. Solid research and statistics on cycling.
We can only improve decision-making and policy development with solid research. The information that records how many people are cycling is very poor at the national level and inconsistent at the local level. This makes it difficult to monitor what is happening and which interventions have greatest impact. At a minimum counts should be carried out twice a year using standardised protocols for data collection and handling, taking into account cyclists using off-road facilities as well as those on the public highway. Where possible electronic counters with public displays should be used, as in Copenhagen and other cities, which count the number of cyclists passing through certain areas as these can provide both feedback and encouragement. These would become a talking point and a public reminder to cyclists that they are part of a growing band taking control of their health – and their freedom.
There is all to play for and so little to lose. Proper investment in cycling is not a zero-sum game. It will bring so much more than the expenditure put in, benefits which will gradually be reflected in a changing, healthier population. We all know our natural resources are not infinite and we would irresponsible not to think of ways of making them last, but cycling is hardly a hair-shirt option. Rather it is a joyous way to get about – but one that has become confined to a hardy few because of the conditions on our roads. From Kirkpatrick MacMillan onwards, Scotland has a long history of popular cycling which has been all but forgotten. We believe these times can come again and Scotland can once more be a beacon for the world.
Full article with footnotes here.
Coatesy from Tendance Coatesy, who is a friend of this site, reports the following:-
I have just had an unpleasant visit from the Police.
Apparently it follows a “complaint” from Ipswich-based Islamists, Jimas.
The details of the complaint were not given.
But they apparently centre on this Blog, posts on this organisation (notably a dossier sent to me by somebody close to Harry’s Place) and, it is claimed “E-Mails.”
What they are specifically I do not know.
It all took place, believe or not, well over a year ago, when and what, they did not see fit to elaborate much upon.
But is was claimed that I had a met a leading member of Jimas – completely untrue – to discuss matters.
It was also said that E-Mails from somebody calling themselves The Usual Suspects, were at issue.
I am not the “Usual Suspects” and it is a slander to suggest that I am.
Equally I repeat: I have never met anybody from Jimas.
As for the political attacks on Jimas (and other Islamists) on the Blog Tendance Coatesy, I wonder if it is the business of Suffolk police to act on these matters.
One could say that this is a case of political intervention way beyond their remit.
As for Jimas, well, rest assured that your attempts to ‘get’ me are not appreciated.
Particularly the claim – wholly made-up – that I ‘met’ with them.
As this Blog has an international readership I wonder what people in other countries think of this.
Today on Woman’s Hour (first item) they were discussing Disney making over Merida, the red-haired heroine of Brave, into something sexier and more feminine for merchandising purposes. Little girls were angry that Disney has spoiled Merida, as Disney does most things it touches.
“I like Merida because she likes wearing loose-fitting dresses so she can aim properly when she’s hunting. And I also like her because she’s not one of those pink girly princesses who is always flapping around looking for boyfriends.”
Going by the pictures, they’ve changed a quirky kid with a bow and arrows to a hot babe, who spends her time in the hair-dresser’s rather than on the archery field.
The mothers on Woman’s Hour were annoyed as well, as Merida is a gutsy princess they like their daughters to admire, as any decent mother would far rather their daughter had a pin-up of Jessica Ennis (achievement, drive) than of Kate Middleton (expensive teeth).
The little girls favoured Merida’s penchant for dress suitable for active pursuits. One of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life was Van Helsing. Among its general badnesses was Kate Beckinsale playing Anna Valerious who was constantly pursued by evil winged vampires. If a family curse had me being pursued by evil winged vampires I’d wear a loose top, jogging bottoms and trainers, or the nineteenth century equivalent, not a corset and high-heeled boots up to my thighs. I’d also tie back or even cut my hair, however tumbling and curly. Throw her to the vampires.
I can understand why the little girls were so furious with the Disney makeover. If you love a character, you hate them being messed around. When I was little I adored Emma Peel, as played by Diana Rigg, in The Avengers. She raced about in a Lotus Elan, wore cat suits and karate kicked the baddies. I’d have been raging if she had appeared in a frilly dress and stilettos, and had waited to be rescued.
Emma Peel was replaced by a less fighting woman, and the show fell out of my ratings.
Cycling as a form of transport needs to be seen in the wider context of local transport as a whole, and at our meeting on Monday 8 April Professor Iain Docherty will set the context by describing current trends and policies in local transport as a whole. Jim Eadie MSP will outline cycling developments at Scottish level, followed by Cllr Jim Orr describing the Edinburgh situation. There will then be a panel discussion, with questions from you the audience, chaired by Paul Tetlaw.
Monday 8 April
Venue: Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh
Time: 7.30 – open 6.45 for coffee, stall, exhibition and chat
Iain Docherty is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Glasgow, with interests including sustainability and transport.
Jim Eadie MSP is Co-Convener of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party cycling group, and Parliamentary Officer to the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Nicola Sturgeon MSP.
Cllr Jim Orr is Edinburgh City Council’s Transport Vice-Convener, has responsibility for cycling, and is a Spokes member.
Paul Tetlaw is a long-standing Spokes member, also board member and former chair of Transform Scotland.
Because life’s too short to think for yourself.
The Guardian will do your thinking while you do your living.
George Galloway is always on Twitter. He tweeted his joy at winning the by-election in Blackburn which he had just won in Bradford. Then he tweeted that someone had hacked into his Twitter account to mistweet him. (This was technically impossible).
He was tweeting 25 minutes ago (time of writing 20:32, 21/3/13). He calls his critics “labour stooges” and retweets any compliments that come his way*. He promotes himself indefatigably.
So why has he put down this early day motion:-
“That this House notes that Twitter is now a very widely used mode of social networking; further notes that Twitter is a US-based enterprise whose primary motivation is to maximise its profits; further notes that Twitter is now used for a variety of criminal activities including sending malicious communications; further notes that Twitter refuses to co-operate with the UK authorities in general and the police in particular in trying to detect the source of criminal communications ‘unless it is a matter of life and death’, to be determined by Twitter; believes that this failure to co-operate with the detection of the sources of criminal behaviour is reprehensible; and calls on the Government to impose sanctions on Twitter until it agrees to fully co-operate with the UK authorities and police in the detection of crime.”
It’s Twitter’s seventh birthday and celebrities are celebrating it. But GG is calling it a bad thing that should have sanctions imposed on it.
He is missing the chance to set an example by boycotting Twitter . After all, he is a supporter of boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel, and showed it by refusing to debate with an Israeli citizen. Yet there he is on Twitter, helping to maximise its profits.
He is tweeting, while eating Jaffa oranges.
*Doing that make you look like a conceited jerk, as outlined here. Nesrin Malik is talking about writers but it goes for everyone:- “Don’t retweet compliments. Ever. Not once”
I saw Robert Ellis last night supporting Richard Thompson at Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Sing Along – guitar-picking song about being brought up as a Southern Baptist in the bible belt.
Nobody talks too loud in my home town
Nobody stands too tall for fear of getting knocked down. .
And the flames of hell, they seemed so high
I could barely see over the view
I was just a boy when they told me that lie,
But lord it seemed so true.
And that’s a hell of a thing to do to a kid
Just to teach him right from wrong
You can burn in hell the rest of your days,
Or you can choose to sing along.
Richard Thompson started off with songs from his new album Electric, including Salford Sunday
(He pointed out that Salford was the dirty old town of Ewan McColl’s famous song.)
He still can write the songs though he did spend a lot of the evening doing guitar pyrotechnics – too much for my taste. I prefer him doing straight ballads. And he didn’t do Beeswing or Vincent Black Lightening. But he did do this great version of Hey Joe:-
Grimm’s Fairy Tales were first published on December 20th 1812. To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication the BBC ran a series on the tales which examined them from various angles – as expressions of nationalism and psychological states, feminist interpretations and so on. The tales have mutated in all sorts of ways – bowdlerised for children’s editions, cutified by Walt Disney, rewritten by Angela Carter.
When I was child I had a big format picture book of them which had been published in 1966. The tales still contained cruelty which would be thought unsuitable for children today e.g the wicked queen in Snow White being forced to dance in red hot iron shoes until she was dead, Cinderella’s sisters cutting off their toes and heels to fit into the glass slipper and the wood-cutter opening up the wolf’s belly to rescue Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, then sowing it up again with stones. Also Rapunzel had twins before she was married.
My favourite story was, and is, The Youth Who could Not Shiver. The Youth in it has heard of people shivering with fear in graveyards and other creepy places, but has never felt it for himself. So he goes about the world saying continually “Oh, if I could but shiver”. People get him to sit under a gallows where seven hanged men are swinging, or to watch three nights in a heavily haunted castle. .
“When midnight came, a ringing and a rattling noise was heard, gentle at first and louder and louder by degrees; then there was a pause, and presently with a loud outcry half a man’s body came down the chimney and fell at his feet. “Holloa,” he exclaimed; “only half a man answered that ringing; that is too little.” Then the ringing began afresh, and a roaring and howling was heard, and the other half fell down. “Wait a bit,” said he; “I will poke up the fire first.”
When he had done so and looked round again, the two pieces had joined themselves together, and an ugly man was sitting in his place. “I did not bargain for that,” said the youth; “the bench is mine.” The man tried to push him away, but the youth would not let him, and giving him a violent push sat himself down in his old place. Presently more men fell down the chimney, one after the other, who brought nine thigh-bones and two skulls, which they set up, and then they began to play at ninepins.
At this the youth wished also to play, so he asked whether he might join them. “Yes, if you have money!” “Money enough,” he replied, “but your balls are not quite round”; so saying he took up the skulls, and, placing them on his lathe, turned them round.
“Ah, now you will roll well,” said he. “Holloa! now we will go at it merrily.” So he played with them and lost some of his money, but as it struck twelve everything disappeared. Then he lay down and went to sleep quietly.
On the morrow the King came for news, and asked him how he had fared this time. “I have been playing ninepins,” he replied, “and lost a couple of dollars.” “Have you not shivered?” “No! I have enjoyed myself very much; but I wish some one would teach me that!”‘
This tale is comic, and I do wish some film company would turn it into a spoof horror movie. The Youth is a really attractive figure, being so fearless and matter of fact when confronted by supernatural terrors. The ending is good too. The Youth wins the Princess, of course, but she and her chambermaid finally get him to shiver by natural instead of supernatural means.
However, I was put out to find out in the series that that the Nazis picked up Grimm’s tales for propaganda purposes e.g. by giving the wood-cutter in Red Riding Hood a Nazi armband. The Youth Who Could not Shiver was a Nazi favourite. Of course they missed the point of the story, which they turned into Nazi uplift.
“Paul Diehl’s 1935 adaptation of this story . . . was one of a range of silent short films made for the Reichstelle für den Unterrichtsfilm (State Office for Educational Films) and widely shown in German schools. The scene of the night in the castle, though it follows Grimm closely in parts, shows clearly this altered ideological orientation. The youth, now given the name Hans, is swift and violent in his dispatch of a variety of grotesque creatures. He skewers one on a fork and holds it over a flame. He fastens a cat in a vice, cuts its head off, and tosses it into the moat. Unlike the written text, in which the youth feels sorry for a dead body and tries to warm it up, Diehl presents him as pitiless. Since the film has no sound-track, teachers could talk over it and impose an interpretation: children were taught that the action in the film symbolized the necessity for German fearlessness in stamping out enemies of the state (Jews, gays, Gypsies, non-Aryans). In 1937 the film was given a gold medal by the government department for which it was made. Nine years later, however, a Unesco commission, charged with the task of de-Nazifying the teachers and materials that were to be employed in post-war German schools, came to a different verdict: ‘Though there is nothing that is specifically subversive in this film, there is much that is typically Nazi in outlook, with its approbation of killing and force, coupled with callousness.’ The film was therefore suppressed, and is today little known, despite the technical proficiency of its animation.”
Among all their other barbarities, the Nazis had no sense of humour and no idea how to read.
“If you don’t have a real tree you don’t bring the Christmas life into the house.” Josephine Mackinnon, aged 8
Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,
Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold.
Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold -
Bring the Christmas life into this house.
Bring red and green and gold, bring things that shine,
Bring candlesticks and music, food and wine.
Bring in your memories of Christmas past.
Bring in your tears for all that you have lost.
Bring in the shepherd boy, the ox and ass,
Bring in the stillness of an icy night,
Bring in the birth, of hope and love and light.
Bring the Christmas life into this house.
Gig, Bannerman’s, Cowgate, Edinburgh
Sunday 9th December from 6pm
First band on 7pm
My band, FRAKtured Fingers, is on at 8:30pm.
Fritz Van Helsing was Embra’s first, original and lifelong punk rocker. He died Feb 15th of Hep C related liver failure. There was an amazing turnout of Edinburgh’s original punks and many others at his memorial gig earlier this year, out of respect for his 36 year dedication to the Edinburgh music scene and the punk rock attitude. The DVD of this event are on sale. Proceeds to The Hepatitis C Trust.
Rest in noise, Fritz. Punk’s not dead.
Headlined by The World Famous SHOCK AND AWE!!! with Mystery Guests..
The Cathode Ray
Geek Maggot Bingo
Babylon Dub Punks.
Norman Lamont and The Invisible Helpers
The Infirmary Inn.
Jet Hay will be collecting for Youth Music: Music is Power.
The Hepatitis C Trust will be hosting a special C Party in Bannermans from 6pm as part of the gig