2017 Local elections – timetable of events

wcv_signpost_1The elections are approaching fast, and things get busy from here. Here’s a quick cut-out-and-keep guide to what happens over the next few weeks as the campaign gets into gear:

  • 26th March (Mother’s Day! We kick off our campaign with a family photoshoot and leafletting extravagnza on the cycle paths of Edinburgh. Join Suzanne Forup and a crew of family cyclists at Bangholm Outdoors Centre 10-12.  More details (Facebook event)
  • 29th March: Nominations close for candidates for the local elections. We will take around 1 week to get all the details up on our find-a-candidate interactive map, so bear with us as we get this ready.
  • 1st April Alyth Blairgowrie and Coupar Angus campaign cycle organised by Coupar Angus Cycling Hub 10-12. More details (Facebook event)
  • 4th April Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland Hustings, 6-8pm at the Glasgow Women’s Library. Not your typical political event, but a friendly and constructive series of round table chats. More details
  • 5th April Dunbar Candidate’s ride. Join the Dunbar Cycling Group and local council candidates at Bleachingfield Community Centre to look at the local issues acting as barriers to cycling in the town. 4-5:30pm. More details (Facebook event)
  • 6th April. Spokes Lothian Hustings, Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. 6:45pm for a 7:30 start. More details
  • 7th April (approx): Candidate info site goes live.
  • 17th April Deadline to register to vote. Don’t miss out! Register here
  • 19th April Friends of the Earth Glasgow Hustings, Adelaides, Glasgow, 7pm-9pm. More details (Facebook event)
  • 19th April Go Bike Hustings, The Admiral Bar, Waterloo Street, Glasgow, 7:30 pm. More details (PDF flyer)
  • 20th April Dundee Election Hustings with Dundee Cycling Forum and Friends of the Earth Tayside. Butterfly Cafe Dundee 7pm. More details
  • Poster22nd April, Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh. Pedal on Parliament – join this mass family-friendly demonstration in three of Scotland’s cities. More details for Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 23rd April Pedal on Parliament will also be in Glasgow! More details
  • 24th April, St Andrews Space 4 Cycling 6.30 to 8.30pm (details coming soon!)
  • 26th April Glasgow Public Transport Hustings hosted by Get Glasgow Moving at 7-9pm Renfield St Stephen’s Parish Church. More details (Facebook event)
  • 26th April, Cycling Dumfries candidates’ ride – 4-5:30pm, Dock Park, Dumfries. More details
  • 4th May Local elections held. Don’t forget to go to the polls!


What’s missing from this list? If you’re planning an election-related event – or are thinking of doing so – please let us know at We’d love to list anything that’s at all relevant from a candidate’s cycle ride to a hustings on transport, public health, pollution, or the environmemt

Pestering more politicians: Perth, Glasgow, Aberdeen

As the local election campaign nears, things are starting to get busy! Not only has We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote been gaining new supporting organisations almost faster than we can keep up (see here for the full list – so far!), we’ve had people at the last three party conferences, spreading the word.

In Glasgow, we were grateful to GoBike for taking our message to the Green party last weekend

In Perth (again), the tireless Emilia and Esmond were tackling Lib Dems:

This weekend was the SNP’s conference in Aberdeen – but the real good news came first from Glasgow

Hopefully a little cargo-bike love from the Aberdeen Cycle Forum will help persuade other parties to follow suit, up and down the country

Thanks  to everyone who gave up a Saturday to help out with these – now all you have to do is forego breakfast in bed next Sunday and help us really kick off our campaigning effort!

Mum’s the word for We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote

suzanne_picWhile most mothers will enjoy flowers, chocolate and breakfast in bed this Mothers’ Day, some of us will ditch the pampering to instead campaign for better walking and cycling provision for families across Scotland. Can you join us by taking to the paths of Edinburgh to kick off our local election campaign? From 10-12 on Sunday March 26th, when others might be enjoying breakfast in bed, a few of us plan to be cycling around the cycle paths of Edinburgh with children in tow handing out #walkcyclevote leaflets to families. There a good chance of cake too!

We’ve booked a photographer so any families that come and join us should be able to get a good photo of themselves! Please come along and invite others – with or without mums. We’re meeting at 10am at Bangholm Outdoor Centre, close to Victoria Park. We’ll be back at Bangholm by 12ish so you can still do Mother’s Day activities. There’s a Facebook event here if you want to let us know you’re coming – or just email

So if you can spare us a couple of hours, please come along!

Pestering Politicians in Perth

Conference season is upon us, and that means only one thing – getting out and about round Scotland to talk to politicians, local and national, about our policy pledges.

Thanks to Esmond and Emilia who gave up a Saturday lunchtime to talk to Labour Party members at their spring conference.

Joan Coombes
Esmond with Joan Coombes, deputy council leader for Falkirk


Armed with our postcards, and our fabulous new banner, they had some good chats and met a mostly enthusiastic reception from most of the people they chatted to.

Keith Walters
Emilia with Keith Walters, candidate for Dumfries and Galloway Council

These kind of events really help raise the campaign’s profile – so can you join us at one or other of the coming conferences this month? You can join GoBike members in Glasgow for the Greens and Conservatives’ events, or join Emilia again in Perth to meet the Lib Dems, or some of the Aberdeen Cycle Forum to meet the SNP in Aberdeen on the 18th March.

Kenneth Duffy and Louise Roarty
Kenneth Duffy, candidate for Motherwell SE; Louise Roarty, candidate for Murdostoun

Alternatively, if you are attending as a delegate yourself, why not pop out and say hello?

Frank Stevenson
Frank Stevenson, candidate for Strathtay

Running a Candidates’ Bike Ride

In this guest blog from Walk Cycle Vote supporter Cycling Dumfries, Convenor Sally Hinchcliffe explains how to run a candidates’ cycle ride (and why you should):

Candidates for last year's Scottish Parliament elections assemble in Dumfries
Candidates for last year’s Scottish Parliament elections assemble in Dumfries

Getting your local council candidates onto bikes to see for themselves a local barrier is a really powerful way of getting your point across – and it’s not that difficult to organise either.

Cycling Dumfries have now run candidates’ rides for local authority, Westminster, and Holyrood elections in Dumfries and we’ve always had a reasonable turnout across parties. The candidates seem to enjoy it as well as getting a real insight into problems that you may have struggled to get across in emails or in meetings.

How to organise one

1. Choose your route

You’ll need a clear idea of what the problems are that you want them to look at and design a route accordingly. Don’t be too ambitious – some candidates won’t have ridden a bike for a while, and even if they are regular cyclists, you will want to stop and talk about the problems en route. The general rule of thumb is, take whatever you think you can manage in the time available and then halve it. Even then, have a contingency plan to cut out part of the ride in case you overrun – it’s only polite to get the candidates back when you have said you would, as they will likely have other events to go to.

A big issue in Dumfries is the route to the new hospital, just at the end of the cycle path, but across a busy 60 mph road
A big issue in Dumfries is the route to the new hospital, just at the end of the cycle path, but across a busy 60 mph road

Don’t make the route too challenging, either. You don’t need to ride them along the verge of a busy A road to show them how dangerous it is – just looking at it will be enough. Similarly, don’t include too many hills as that will just reinforce the idea that cycling is difficult! Ideally, part of the ride will be quite pleasant so that they understand what works as well as what doesn’t.

2. Set a date and time

We’ve had good success running rides just after school run time – meeting up at around 4 or 4:30. This allows families to take part (it’s really effective to have kids along although this will affect your route choice) and it also neatly slots in between daytime canvassing and evening hustings events for the politicians. Make sure you will be finished before it gets dark, especially if you’re running it before the clocks go forward. We tend to allow around an hour and a half – an hour for the ride itself and any discussions, and half an hour getting everyone ready, doing a photocall, fixing bikes etc.

3. Invite the candidates

Details will be on the Walk Cycle Vote website “find a candidate” page, but your council website should have all of the official nominations for each constituency. To avoid any suspicion of bias, you need to invite everyone who is standing in the relevant area (which might cover two or three constituencies) – even parties you don’t think will be interested or ones you find abhorrent. You can drop off invitations at the local constituency office, email them, or tweet, or ideally a combination of all three. Local media will be reluctant to cover the event if you don’t have candidates from all of the major parties attending as they also have to be even handed in their coverage. If you’re not having any luck getting anyone from a particular party, a few strategic tweets can work wonders, especially if you can get two or three other constituents to join in. It may be helpful if you can provide loan bikes for the candidates – let them know if that’s an option, especially if they are making excuses!

4. Spread the word

Now you need to spread the word about the ride – posters, social media, blog posts, emails to supporters and so on. Posting on local party facebook pages might also be helpful, as they’ll want to put up a show of strength. Once you are confident that you will get a good spread of candidates, send out a media release. Emphasise the photo opportunity aspect of it and say when and where you expect the candidates to gather. Let the local police know, and invite them to send an officer if you have any cycle police in your area – they can be brilliant and they can bring their own perspective to some of the issues you’re talking about.

5. On the day

It might be helpful to send your candidates a briefing and reminder a day or two beforehand, letting them know how the event will happen and what they’ll need to be prepared for. Remind them it’s not a race, won’t be difficult or dangerous, and that they won’t need to dress up in lycra to come. It may be helpful to bring spare gloves, helmets (whatever your opinion on the topic, some politicians may be wary of being photographed on a bike without one).

Top tip - line the candidates up in alphabetical order so you can remember who was who afterwards ...
Top tip – line the candidates up in alphabetical order so you can remember who was who afterwards …

Make sure you organise your own photocall, even if the press are there taking photos, so you have something to put on your website (and write down everyone’s names!). Brief them about the ride, and the issue(s) you’ll be looking at and why they’re important. Try and greet all of the candidates and introduce yourself and have a friendly word with all of them – these days you never know who’s going to get elected.

Allow plenty of time for repairs!
Allow plenty of time for repairs!

During the ride, you’ll need a ride leader and ‘tail end charlie’ to make sure nobody gets left behind. If some of the candidates are on a tight schedule, arrange to have someone guide them back to the start if they need to leave early. Again, try and chat to all of the candidates during the ride, and keep it friendly.

At each point where there’s an issue you want to discuss, stop, explain briefly what the problem is and how it could be fixed, and leave a bit of time for discussion. It might be helpful to have other members of the group chip in as well, if they’ve got a particular issue such as a disability, cycling with children, or working shifts.

At the end, thank them all for coming, take them to the pub or a cafe if they have time, and make sure they have your contact details for any follow up.

6. Follow up

Email each candidate afterwards thanking them for coming, wishing them luck in their campaign, reminding them of the points you raised, and maybe picking up on anything they said during the ride (good or bad – but be tactful). Send them any nice pictures pf them on a bike they might want to use in their literature and a link to your own website or social media posts about the event, and also tweet your thanks to each one for coming (they love retweeting that sort of thing) or post it on their FB page, and on your own.

After the election, email to congratulate the winners, and perhaps asking for a meeting to talk further about some of the issues you raised on the ride. A few congratulatory tweets with pictures from the ride also helps remind people of any promises they may have made. Even if they haven’t been particularly forthcoming with policy pledges, a friendly congratulations email helps build bridges for later.

Even just getting this many politicians on bikes can feel like an achievement ...
Even just getting this many politicians on bikes can feel like an achievement …

If you or your group are planning doing something similar – or even just taking a local politician or official out on to the streets to show them a particular issue whether its for cyclists or pedestrians, let us know on and we’ll do what we can to help and spread the word.

Looking forward to 2017

It’s fair to say that 2016 has been an interesting year, in all senses of the word. In a scary and uncertain world, it can be hard to look forward and consider what might change it for the better, even in small ways. But hope springs eternal – and sometimes it’s the apparently small things that can make a real difference to people’s lives, even if they don’t always make the headlines. The thirty-plus groups behind We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote believe that making changes to enable people to walk or cycle are exactly the kind of thing that, while small in themselves, add up to a big change, and one that is ultimately for the better.

That’s why we want to hear your wishes for 2017. Large or small, we want to know what you’d like to see change next year, that would make it easier for you or your family or friends to walk or cycle. It could be a new footbridge, or a cycle path, or a road closed to rat-running traffic. It could be a route to your children’s school or your place of work or your nearest shops. It could be as small as a dropped kerb or as large as a cycle superhighway – or a whole network of them.

Together, large and small, these wishes could add up – maybe not to world peace, or global harmony, but at least to a healthier, happier country.

Let us know – either by email, twitter, or on our Facebook page – what you would wish for in 2017. But don’t just stop there. With local elections coming up in May, it’s your chance to influence the people who can make this happen. Let your existing local councillors know where your priorities lie, and tell your candidates as well when the time comes.

And be ambitious. Some of your wishes may seem unlikely to come true, especially if your current council seems to be more interested in easing the flow of motorised traffic than in walking or cycling. But you never know. If we have learned anything at all from 2016 it is that when it comes to elections, anything can happen. Perhaps it’s time to harness that for the good in 2017…

Cycling By Design workshop: Slides and notes

We’re still working our way through the presentations from our Campaigners’ day and next up is the workshop from the team involved in revamping Cycling By Design.  There was a lot to cram into an hour’s workshop, so I don’t think they managed to get through their presentation but here are the slides in full:

Cycling by Design presentation
Cycling By Design Presentation (PDF)

They’ve also kindly provided their notes for each slide which should help to fill in the gaps!



Tools for Campaigners: Tube Mapping

We had a great Campaigners’ Day in November, with lots of positive feedback – but it was a very full day, and we had to rush through a lot of material. So where possible we’re putting up our speakers’ presentations and additional links (just as soon as they get around to sending them to us!). First off the blocks is Tom Guha who ran the session on ‘tube mapping’. Here’s his presentation if you missed it, or would just like a review:

The tool used on the infrastructure safari was the CEAT tool, which is available at

Cycling by Design: Help to influence the future

One of the workshops on our Space for Cycling training day is a participatory one on Cycling By Design. Here, Andy Mulholland of Plan for Bikes explains a bit more about why it’s important and what input is needed:
cycling by design cover
Much has changed in the cycling world since 2010


Cycling by Design is Scotland’s trunk road guidance document for cycling infrastructure. Its introduction has helped improve the consideration and delivery of cycling in the trunk road environment and is also well used by local authorities. However advances in delivery and in guidance since 2010 have left it out of date.

Transport Scotland is looking to release a 2017 update. At this early stage we are engaging with professionals and users to identify the gaps in both the technical content and in the way infrastructure is delivered on the ground.
This participative workshop, run by Transport Scotland and its design consultants, is part of that engagement stage and will draw on your experiences as users and campaigners to:
  • Highlight specific problems on street;
  • Debate and inform the technical solutions;
  • Identify the delivery issues to be overcome.
Please come to the workshop with your ideas on specific infrastructure issues you experience on your daily trips by bike. Everyone is welcome and technical expertise is not a pre-requisite!

Transforming our streets for people: Campaigners’ training day with Space for Cycling

Edinburgh, Saturday November 26th: With next year’s local authority elections looming, local campaigning will be more important than ever in 2017, so make sure you’re ready to spring into action with our joint campaigners’ training day with Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaign

Cycling UK logo 

This will be a practical hands-on day and an opportunity for anyone who wants to campaign for cycling, walking and more liveable towns and cities to meet, share ideas and learn. It should offer something for everyone from those just starting out to experienced campaigners. We’ll be demonstrating the Space for Cycling tools and resources, as well as covering specific Scottish issues, such as the update to Scotland’s national Cycling By Design guidelines.

To book, sign up here – it’s free, but a donation to cover lunch would be appreciated