Sharing ideas at our South of Scotland campaigners’ day

A driech day didn’t dampen the enthusiasm as we gathered in Kilmarnock for our South of Scotland campaigners’ day. This brought together groups and individuals from Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and beyond to share ideas, stories and inspiration about how to improve conditions for active travel in the region.

Suzanne Forup from Cycling UK (and Walk Cycle Vote) kicked off the day with a presentation setting the scene and the (ever more complicated) active travel landscape in Scotland (you can see Suzanne’s presentation here)

Then it was the turn of Iona Shepherd from GoBike, the Strathclyde Cycle Campaign, explaining how the group used the power of being a social movement to bring about change in Glasgow – giving people the chance to get involved in everything from responding to consultations and running rides, to getting stuck into creative campaigning online and offline (you can see Iona’s presentation here)

After a fair bit of time listening, people then had a chance to split into groups and talk about local issues in their areas, a conversation that was clearly so engrossing that it was hard to get anyone to stop to have lunch – always a good sign in an event that was as much about networking as anything else.

After lunch, it was a chance for local groups to introduce themselves with short presentations from our hosts the South Ayrshire Paths Initiative and the Kilmarnock Active Travel Hub, as well as from Cycling Dumfries (you can see the Cycling Dumfries presentation here).

It was then time to talk creative campaigning, with a presentation from Sally Hinchcliffe of Pedal on Parliament, rounding up how to use humour, eye-catching imagery and fun to either embarrass people into acting – or change the narrative altogether (you can see Sally’s presentation here, and get a handout with more information here).

This then segued into another chance for people to talk in groups about how they might take some of the lessons from the day and turn them into campaigns to tackle their own local issues – from harnessing the ‘pester power’ of kids – to a spot of guerrilla signage ..

Finally, with the buzz in the room reaching deafening volumes, we tried to bottle that fizz by getting everyone to make a note of one action they were going to take, once they’d digested the lessons of the day.

All in all it felt like a successful event, and we look forward to seeing what comes out of it.

If you missed it, or couldn’t make it down to Kilmarnock, we’ve got another similar event coming up in Aberdeen on the 29th September. Once more it’s free, but if you want to attend, please book yourself on because places are limited.

Making cycling and walking to school easier for all

Three pieces of legislation coming up in the Scottish Parliament have the potential to make cycling and walking easier and safer for kids (as well as everyone else). Ian McCall from Paths For All explains what they are and why they matter. 

Walking infographicWith our children and grandchildren now returning to the classroom, many of us will be thinking about how they are getting to school and back in a way that is healthy and safe.

Is it easy for them to walk, scoot or cycle to school? If not, what might make it easier and what would reassure you if you have concerns about traffic?

Perhaps drivers park on the pavement or motorists double park? Or maybe you feel the speed of local traffic is too fast?

At Paths for All, we believe that the places we live, work and go to school in should be more walkable and there are several initiatives at the moment that may help.

The Planning (Scotland) Bill, currently in the Scottish Parliament, is an opportunity to improve placemaking. We have said that planning needs to produce places where walking and cycling can be the first choices for short everyday journeys. This will rely on better links between planning and transport policies. To support this, we are also promoting a policy on walkability as part of the review of the National Transport Strategy.

The Transport (Scotland) Bill includes proposals to control parking on pavements and to improve bus services and we will be submitting evidence on this.

Inconsiderate parking forces pedestrians onto the road and into the path of vehicles. It is a major barrier for people with visual or mobility impairments, wheelchair or mobility scooter users, families with pushchairs and cyclists. According to a Living Streets poll, 73% of people aged 65 and over felt pavement parking was a problem for them in their local area.

Virtually every trip by public transport involves some walking. Buses are particularly important given the number of people that use them and the range of communities they serve. Around three quarters of all public transport journeys are by bus but, over the past ten years, bus routes have reduced by a fifth and fares have increased by 50%.

The Restricted Roads (20mph Limit) (Scotland) Bill has been proposed by Mark Ruskell MSP and is likely to be introduced as a Member’s Bill to the Parliament soon. This would change the default speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on most roads in residential and built-up areas. We agree that reducing the speed to 20mph has safety benefits that encourage walking and cycling. The introduction of the 20mph limit in Edinburgh is reported to have had a profound effect on injury rates which have fallen by 25%.

Making the streets safer and more pleasant to use will encourage more walking and cycling, especially for local trips such as getting to school and back.

This will not only bring road safety benefits but will also help to improve overall health and wellbeing, reduce congestion, improve air quality and have positive local economic benefits.

If you would like more information, contact: policy@pathsforall.org.uk.

If you’d like to let your MSP know what you think of these bills, you can contact them via Write To Them

mother and daughter