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Lothian cycling campaign Spokes launches election manifesto promoting safe cycling in Edinburgh

The manifesto calls for the creation of a comprehensive, protected cycle network and a 30 percent reduction in motor traffic in the city

The Lothian cycling campaign Spokes, one of the UK’s largest regional cycling campaign organisations, has published its manifesto for the political parties and candidates standing in May’s City of Edinburgh Council election.

Founded in 1977, Spokes is a non-party political voluntary organisation. With over 1,000 members, the campaign aims to promote cycling as part of a sustainable transport and access strategy, while also publicising the benefits of cycling for the whole community and lobbying the Scottish government and local authorities to do the same.

The organisation’s manifesto for the upcoming council elections, which it claims are “critical to cycling and transport policies and budgets for the next five years”, is centred on five main themes: safety, traffic reduction, the creation of a cycle network, cycle accessibility and supporting infrastructure, and resourcing. 

> Edinburgh cycling campaigner calls for 20mph speed limit to protect riders 

The manifesto calls on Edinburgh’s local politicians to aim for ‘Vision Zero’ – a top-level aim of zero deaths and serious injuries on the roads and footways – in Scotland’s capital.

It demands that candidates endorse and act on the Scottish government’s existing commitment to reducing car mileage by 30 percent by 2030. Spokes claims this can be achieved through a concerted effort from all branches of the government, not just the Transport department, and through dedicated programmes to reduce on-street parking provision and by avoiding expansion of road capacity.

The campaign has also called for a protected, well-lit comprehensive cycle network suitable for all ages, which will include improved and permanent Spaces for People infrastructure and the acceleration of long-delayed schemes such as the City Centre West to East Link initiative. 

The manifesto stresses the need for a new accessible bike hire scheme, which should include non-standard machines such as cargo bikes, further expansion of the Cyclehoop secure storage scheme and quality Sheffield-style bike parking and e-bike charging in the city centre.

Spokes also says that politicians should work to maintain and increase Edinburgh’s “UK-leading policy” of allocating ten percent of transport capital and revenue budgets to cycling, “given the rudimentary extent of the existing cycle network”.

> Spaces for People: Residents blame increase in motorist-related collisions on recently installed cycle lanes 

Spokes’ Mies Knottenbelt said: “We hope that all candidates will adopt our manifesto in full. Cycle-friendly cities are an obvious solution to our many urgent challenges for the economy, for the climate, and critically for our mental and physical health.

“Over the years, administrations have been making some improvements for cyclists, but progress has been frustratingly slow and it’s now time for major transformational change.”

“Cycling should be a healthy, efficient, and fun way to get about the city but too many people are afraid to cycle because we don’t have a network of on-road protected cycle infrastructure,” says Rosie Bell.

“We are asking everyone who’d like Edinburgh to be a welcoming city for cyclists of all ages and abilities to contact their ward candidates and ask them to adopt the Spokes manifesto.”

On 28 March, Spokes will be hosting an open hustings for candidates standing in May’s election to present their plans for improving cycling in Edinburgh. 

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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chrisonabike | 2 years ago
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My local group. I believe one of the core ideas in the past was motor traffic reduction - which I think is a good idea. I'm pleased to see the emphasis on a fit-for-purpose cycle network because I think that's crucial.  (To those who say "just remove all the cars - there's your infra" - great idea, that's already true some places, that's why we all love a LTN / filtered permeability.  However in general you're asking for something very unlikely / hard to do e.g a drastic reduction in motor traffic on main routes, seriously reducing urban speed limits and somehow making everyone keep to them. Second - roads are now designed for motor vehicles and everything from road surfaces to traffic lights at junctions is not actually ideal - or even very convenient for cycling).

Edinburgh's own 2030 city development plan is much more ... hmm.  They show a "strategic active travel network" but er... it's not actually a network.  And - for 8 years work - it looks rather like what's already there.  (That would be an accurate reflection of the current rate of getting anything done though ...) Yes in the detail sections there is explicit mention of the "c" word (cycling) but - forgive my paranoia / sensitivity - there seems to be a "don't scare the horses" policy here.  So plenty of "pedestrian friendly streets" and "network of active travel routes" - but I'm not convinced that the planners understand that walking and cycling are fundamentally different modes nor how either works best.

Not yet got through the 187 pages of it though...

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