Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Guest Post: Show your colours for climate, justice and jobs

 Continuing in our series of guest blogs by supporting organisations, Paul Daly, Campaign Officer for Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (one of the latest to sign up) explains why they’re asking Scots to ‘show their colours’ for Scotland’s Climate March on Saturday 28th November. 

Climate march banner

Scotland’s Climate March is part of a worldwide movement: over that weekend in November hundreds of thousands of people across the globe will take to the streets to call for strong and urgent action on climate change – showing their commitment to creating a low carbon world.

This is all in the build up to the UN climate negotiations in Paris at the end of the year, where global leaders will conclude negotiations for a new international deal to tackle climate change and address its impacts.  But of course it is about much more than what is agreed to in a conference hall in Paris.

Scots need to ‘show your colours’ for two reasons.  Firstly the march will be bright, fun and colourful to help build a family-friendly and inclusive experience – so wear your brightest clothes!  There will be many people who have been to marches before, but to build the movement it has to be a positive first experience for many who have never taken to the streets before.  Secondly of course we are asking for Scotland to show its commitment to transitioning to a low carbon society.  Scotland needs to show its colours in terms of ambition and dedication – both here and in Paris.

The conference in Paris is an important step, and it is right that we focus our energies and combine efforts across our broad coalition to pile on the political pressure for as strong a deal as possible.  Scotland has a good and ambitious story to tell in the international context in terms of commitment to climate action, but we must maintain this pressure on politicians back here in Scotland beyond Paris.  For example we need to do a lot more work in transport and heating policy.

As the talks in Paris approach, we are already looking to how Scotland can make good on its climate commitments.  The Scottish election next year provides a timely opportunity for parties to spell out what action they will take to contribute to the global climate agenda.  Stop Climate Chaos Scotland will push for Scotland’s political parties to publish manifestos which enable Scotland to deliver on its climate commitments.

We hope to see you in Edinburgh on Saturday 28th November.

To have a fun and safe march, we need volunteer stewards – could you be a steward on the day?  Send me an email if you would be able to do this important job:

Friends of the Earth Scotland are organising transport from Scotland to join the international mobilisations in Paris at the end of the UN negotiations.  Would you like to march on the streets of Paris? Find out more:

A Wide Berth in Perth: Safer Roads for Everyone

Bike Station side-by-side tandem
Steering group: Phil Jones and Sally Hinchcliffe try out the Bike Station Tandem

It seems a long time ago now – back when the sun was shining – but Perth and the Labour party conference marked the end of the conference season. Thanks to Phil Jones for stepping in to lead the ride – and Perth Bike Station for showing up on their fantastic side-by-side tandem to demonstrate the sort of bikes we’re going to need to design for if we’re going to enable everyone to ride

We were delighted to make contact with a number of politicians at the event – we couldn’t entice any along for the ride but Andrew Burns (Leader of City of Edinburgh Council) and Cara Hilton MSP (Dunfermline) joined us for the photo call beforehand

Andrew Burns and Cara Hilton
Ready to set off: Andrew Burns and Cara Hilton join the group before the ride

Lesley Hinds also popped out to talk #allmalepanels (she’ll be joining us for tomorrow’s Women’s Cycle Forum to experience the complete opposite)

Lesley Hinds and Councillor Laurie Bidwell
Lively conversation between Suzanne Forup, Sally Hinchcliffe, Lesley Hinds and Laurie Bidwell of Dundee council

And finally Sarah Boyack and Claudia Beamish joined us at the end of the day, along with John Lauder of Sustrans. We had a good conversation with both and we hope that the importance of our message is getting through – certainly we’ve heard from all the conferences that active travel is being discussed not just in the context of transport but also health policy and the problems of pollution.

Lizzie Reather, Dave Du Feu, Sally Hinchcliffe, Sarah Boyack, Claudia Beamish and John Lauder
Lizzie Reather, Dave Du Feu, Sally Hinchcliffe, Sarah Boyack, Claudia Beamish and John Lauder

As for the ride – Perth didn’t have very much that was remarkable in the way of infrastructure that we saw, although we enjoyed the ‘Salmon Run’ cycle route along the river. However whether it was the fine autumn weather or something in the water, Perth was remarkable for the politeness of its drivers who – even when we weren’t on the tandem – seemed to be very laid back about waiting for an opportunity to pass, and then gave us plenty of room, as demonstrated by this bus.

Perth Bus
Narrow cycle lanes right at the edge of the roundabout do little to protect cyclists …
bus gives ample space
Fortunately the bus driver is familiar with the Highway Code and gives the bike ‘as much room as when passing a car’. Sadly, we can’t always rely on individual drivers to do this

Our third policy pledge might seem like a bit of a vague one “Promote and deliver safer roads for both walking and cycling” – but actually it’s key to active travel, and a difficult one to deliver. There are many ways to make roads safer from greater enforcement and stricter laws, lower speed limits, better education of drivers (among many other things, Phil trains HGV drivers on cycle safety, including getting them out on bikes themselves, an experience which is both eye opening for them and – encouragingly – enjoyable). The design of the roads themselves is also key – the Dutch ‘sustainable safety’ principles for instance, so that safe behaviour is built in to the roads – we need to make sure that it’s not simply up to individual drivers to give cyclists enough room, welcome though that is.

But in reality, all of these factors are important and they all need to be given priority. At the moment, deaths on the roads – even of children – are treated as ‘one of those things’, as if they were an unavoidable tragedy. We need to start with a commitment from our politicians that every death of a vulnerable road user will be treated as though it were preventable, until the most effective policies are found to prevent them. It is only then that our roads will start to be safe, and more importantly feel safe for everyone, whatever bike they ride

Perth Bike Station tandem
A bike for everyone – but they need the right conditions to ride in if it’s to be a means of transport rather than a bit of fun.

Sustrans Scotland Guest Post: Giving the people what they want

Sustrans Scotland are one of our supporting organisations, and here Kate Campbell, Sustrans Scotland Deputy Director (Behaviour Change) reports on their Bike Life report – which shows strong support for our three pledges

bike_life report - views
Snippets of views from Edinburgh cyclists – from the Bike Life Edinburgh report

Sustrans Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council have released a ground-breaking report – Bike Life Edinburgh – which recorded the views of over a thousand Edinburgh residents. The report is based on the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, which helped to make Denmark’s capital one of the world’s most bike-friendly and ‘liveable’ cities.

The Edinburgh Bike Life report is packed with statistics. In fact, we’re confident it’s the biggest and most extensive cycling survey ever carried out in Scotland. The overall message is clear: the capital’s residents want to see more people choosing to travel by bike and they want to see government – national and local – investing more to make this reality. Three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed said they want more spent on cycling. And, the average amount people wanted to see invested from national and local transport budgets was £23 per person per year.
74% of residents would like to see more investment in cyclingIt’s clear, then, that people want our politicians to continue to show leadership when it comes to investment, and build on the progress that’s already been made. At the national level, we welcome that the Scottish Government has matched last year’s record investment in cycling and walking. And, in Edinburgh the Council is leading the way, by investing 8% of its transport budget in cycling alone this year. What Bike Life Edinburgh tells us is that our politicians have the backing of the public to do more to enable people to choose healthy, clean and cheap journeys, by getting on a bike.

Bike life report - statistics on improved safety
80% of Edinburgh residents – and 87% of regular cyclists in the city – would like to see safety improved for cycling. 52% would like to see it improved for walking too.

Another big message from Bike Life relates to safety. Of those surveyed in the city, 8 in 10 want improved safety for people riding bikes. People also made clear the kinds of changes they’d like to see to get more people cycling. The report shows that, overwhelmingly, people want segregated bike lanes. 91% of people who do not ride a bike but would like to, and 86% of occasional bike riders say that kerb-protected bike lines would help them to start cycling, or cycle more.

Bike Life Report - what would get people cycling
Build it and they will come? Cyclists and non-cyclists alike prefer their own space if they’re to cycle more

With segregated bike routes starting to open across Scotland, it’s clear that things are moving in the right direction. A number of big, bold partially or fully-segregated cycle routes have opened in the last couple of months. In East Dunbartonshire, the first phase of the Bears Way route has been launched and the next phase is now being consulted on. Earlier this month, in Edinburgh, the Innocent to Meadows route was opened. And, in Glasgow, the South West City Way is now finished and open to cyclists. We think projects like these could be game-changers for cycling here in Scotland and Edinburgh Bike Life suggests people would like to see more of them.

So, Bike Life Edinburgh tells us people want to see investment in cycling continue to increase. Safety remains a big barrier to getting more people on a bike. And, residents want protected cycling routes to increase cycling levels in the city. People, in Edinburgh, have delivered a clear message: they want investment, infrastructure and improved safety. And, they’ve sent this message just in time for next year’s Holyrood elections.