Freedom on Wheels: Why cycling infrastructure design needs to take account of handcyclists too

In the third of our guest blogs in the run up to Saturday’s workshop, Ken Talbot explains how unthinking design can lead to barriers which could prevent many thousands of people from true freedom of mobility. Our previous posts were from Sally Hinchcliffe, on her eye opening experiences over the summer, and Kirsty Lewin on how her bike is her mobility aid.

Super KenFreedom: That’s what mobility is. In the years that I’ve been handcycling and coaching handcycling I’ve met many people who say that handcycling is freedom. The sense of freedom is one of the most amazing feelings you can ever have, and when it’s taken from you it can be one of the most restrictive burdens you can experience. But, getting it back: that is truly stunning.

I’ve seen the evolution of that freedom. As an able-bodied person, I had an industrial injury where my mobility became more and more limited, and continues to do so due to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. I’ve evolved from being able to walk, run, and ride a bike, to using a walking stick, then crutches, and then using a wheelchair. At each transition I had to reset my way of thinking about my ability and where I could go and what I could do, and it’s surprising how much mental energy that takes, and how often I got it wrong and get stuck.

But the problem with getting it wrong and getting stuck is rarely whether or not I can physically get somewhere under my own power. Sure, steep hills are a problem, but the big problem is the barriers that I, and others like me face as disabled people. In a wheelchair, a steep ramp, steps(s), uneven surfaces, and a lack of dropped curbs can all limit basic access. And these are all things that, when I was able-bodied, I didn’t give a second thought to because they didn’t slow me down at all.

Mountain Handcycling
Mountain handcycling

A few years ago I took up handcycling and I went from that restrictive burden of being disabled to finding freedom all over again. But in the years I’ve been riding I’ve often had to give up that freedom again.

As a handcyclist, when I and my riding colleagues all over the country are in our bikes, these become our wheelchairs; and as cyclist, we are presented with even more challenges to accessing routes and paths. The bikes are low to the ground and can become grounded on seemingly simple objects such as steep or sharp road transitions and speedbumps. They are long and have exceptionally large turning circles so tight corners and chicane gates can prevent access. Similarly, handcycles are wide so bollards can also prevent access.  And kissing gates, latched gates or any other obstacle that requires anyone to be able to walk or lift their bike… those are out of the question when you can’t get off and carry your bike. Even reaching the height of a button at a pedestrian/ cycle crossing can be impossible depending on your disability.

Ken on his handcycle
Ken handcycling

So, why would this be and who are handcyclists anyway? Handcycling is very much like traditional cycling except that you are sitting in a recumbent position and pedal using your arms and hands. People who generally take up the activity include (but aren’t limited to) those with paralysis, amputees, individuals with  arthritis, brain injuries, cancer or people like me with severe chronic pain. And why do people take up handcycling? Pleasure, socialisation, fitness, rehab, commuting… in fact, handcyclist usually ride for the very same reasons as any other cyclist, we just pedal differently.

But the nature of our bikes and our disabilities, in combination with certain barriers in infrastructure design can often prevent us from cycling just as any other person would. But why should be concerned about access for handcyclists? Well, if you look at a small section of our riders you can find these stats:

  • According to Aspire, “Using the NHS’s own statistics, as well as data from other countries, the charities estimate that the number of people injured or diagnosed with a life-changing spinal cord injury in the UK is 2,500 per year, whilst the total number of people living with a spinal cord injury in the UK is 50,000.”
  • Between the years 1981 and 2013, on average 1,595 people had a lower limb amputation in Scotland.
  • 800,000 people in Scotland are affected by chronic pain. In particular with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome one of two variants affects 1.2 children (5-15 years) in every 100,000. In adults, while the figures are vague, there are approximately 5.5 – 26.2 cases diagnosed per 100,000 people.

But what do all these figures mean? Even after looking only at a small cross section of potential handcyclist, we can see that the figures mean that there are a lot of disabled people out there, and potentially a lot who are candidates for handcycling. Interesting too, potentially, any one of these conditions from paralysis, to amputation, to chronic pain could affect any one of us at some point in our lives. I never thought I’d have CRPS, nor did I even know it existed until I started to experience it. I’m certain my paralysed or amputee friends never thought they’d be paralysed or have to lose a limb either.

Why is this important, particularly with cycling and cycling infrastructure? With so many disabled people out there, it’s important that they, we, remain part of society though social activities and remain fit though physical activities and cycling is an ideal way to do it. It’s well know that cycling is less physically demanding than many other outdoor activities, and the endorphins generated are hugely beneficial.  Remaining both socially and physically fit is not only empowering but it has the potential of reducing the reliance on the NHS for further health complications as well. But equally importantly, if we build our cycling infrastructure to allow access to disabled people, we build it accessible to all people; able-bodied, elderly, and children. And if you happen to find yourself in a position like me, where in the middle of your life your freedom is taken away… if the cycling infrastructure is already in place you can find your freedom again without even thinking.

Ken Talbot is a two-time world record-holding handcyclist and handcycling advocate.

When your bike is your mobility aid: Cycling with arthritis

In the second of our posts reflecting the issues raised by our forthcoming Active Travel for Everyone workshop, Kirsty Lewin explains how not every cyclist is able-bodied – or can easily get off and walk. 

You’ll have heard it said. Or seen it written. Bikes as mobility aids. If you’re fit, you might have wondered about the mobility issue. How can someone cycle a two-wheeler but they can’t walk? Surely that doesn’t make sense.  And why can’t they walk? Their legs are going around on the bike, aren’t they?  There are all sorts of health issues that result in someone being able to cycle but not walk. And one of them is arthritis. I have severe arthritis in one knee. It’s a result of my leg being out of alignment for ten years following a major incident with a lorry. My knee is not red or inflamed. It is not hot to touch. I have full movement – in fact I can touch my heel on my bum which is more than most of the population. But the pain, when weight bearing, is unmanageable. And the painkillers I took to try and manage the pain gave me gastritis. Which means I am now living with arthritis without pharmaceutical pain relief.

Kirsty on her (non-electric) Brompton
Kirsty on her (non-electric) Brompton

Cycling with severe arthritis is not necessarily pain free. But for me, it’s much less painful than walking. By cycling, I keep active and fit. It’s generally good for my mental health. It’s often a fun, social activity. And it’s my only way of getting around.  Buses are out of the question on a bad day. The walk to the stop and back is too painful. And a journey that involves two or more buses often takes too long. Buying a car is not a solution either. It’s not worth the cost and hassle.  And it’s not worth the impact on the climate and air quality. The bike, and in my case now, the ebike, is the most efficient way of moving through the city. But travelling around Edinburgh on a bike while suffering from painful arthritis is not as easy as it should be.

One challenge for us arthritis sufferers is trying to avoid exacerbating the pain. Putting my foot down on the road hurts, and putting it down suddenly hurts a lot more. In an ideal world, or a world designed for people who use bikes as mobility aids, there’d be seamless routes and infrastructure, routes that are segregated from motor vehicles, dropped kerbs, no barriers on paths, no narrow chicanes, and predictable careful drivers. There’d also be practical secure cycle parking by the entrances to all major destinations. And of course, there’d be cycle parking where I live, in a tenement. You’re guessing where this is going.

There is no ‘blue badge’ scheme for people who use bikes and trikes as mobility aids. This is despite the fact that the bike is cheap to run, non-polluting, and aids physical and mental health. This lack of foresight means that when I turn up at an industrial estate, or a public building, or a shopping centre, or a cinema or theatre or art gallery, there may be no bike parking at all, or the parking might be on the other side of a large car park, or a distance down the street. A painful walk is then required. Sometimes the cycle parking requires pushing the bike up over a kerb. There’s a major hospital in Edinburgh that provides this particular joy. When you’re using an ebike for health reasons, pushing 25 kilos of bike over a kerb is quite a feat.

I have been under a moving lorry with a bike. Naturally, this has left me with considerable anxiety when cycling in heavy fast traffic. Every day my knuckles whiten as drivers pass me too closely, an illegal close pass, but they rarely get caught. Operation Close Pass in Edinburgh has limited resources despite its best efforts. Drivers veer across my path to turn left, or they pull out of a junction into my path despite having looked straight at me seconds before. And they regularly run red lights as I move out onto the road urged on by the safe ‘green cycle’ sign that I’ve been patiently waiting for. Every sudden stop in these circumstances means a foot hard down and agonising pain through my knee. And every close shave is a physical flash of fear. Thumping heart and sweaty palms. It doesn’t seem fair to have to suffer that fear, just to get from one place to the next.

Sometimes I cycle on the pavement. I do this when I’m afraid of the traffic, or when forced to by roadworks. I do it carefully, and stop to let pedestrians by. I ignore ‘cyclist dismount’ signs. I have to. But I’ve been abused by some pedestrians. One woman in Portobello looked me up and down and said I didn’t look disabled. If I wear my knee brace, I get a more sympathetic reception. But pedestrians are right to raise an eyebrow. In the UK, bikes are not listed as mobility aids in the legislation. Technically I shouldn’t be on the pavement at all. But how else am I supposed to get around? Even on shared-use paths, things can be challenging. Walkers and runners with dogs can be unpredictable. Of course, most dog walkers are responsible and careful. But if a dog runs across my path, forcing me to swerve or brake suddenly, the pain brings tears to my eyes.

Why does any of this matter? Well, I’m not alone. Osteoarthritis affects around eight million people in the UK, and arthritis is the biggest cause of pain and disability in Scotland. The most commonly affected joints are hands, knees, hips and the spine. There is no cure for arthritis, but regular physical activity is recommended by NHS Scotland to manage symptoms, strengthen joints, and relieve stress. Cycling is a wonderful way of getting the required amounts of physical activity, although other exercises are required too, for example those that involve strengthening and stretching. But many people with arthritis will not cycle if they are frightened. Or if physical barriers make it too difficult. Or there’s nowhere to put their bike at their destination or even at home.

We often talk about designing cities for children. Or designing cities for people with dementia. Let’s add general disabilities to the list and, at the very least, meet our obligations for people with disabilities under the Equalities Act. And get on with it, not just talk about it. It took me over ten years to get one kerb dropped to access the cycle parking at an iconic public building in Edinburgh. On that basis I may only get another two done in my lifetime.

There’s some fantastic transformational work going on in Edinburgh to facilitate cycling and walking. This will undoubtedly result in improved access and experiences for many disabled people who choose active travel. However, it’s not city wide and many of the smaller projects that could make a difference now are still not getting done.  Cities that are designed and run for people who use bikes, trikes and adapted bikes as mobility aids to get around would be safe, practical, and fun for all inhabitants. What are we waiting for?

Kirsty Lewin is on Twitter as @KirstyLewin.

What do we mean by active travel for all?

On Saturday 19th October, We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote are running a free workshop, Active Travel for Everyone,  that will bring together cyclists, visually impaired people and wheelchair users to find common ground over what we want for our streets, towns and cities. Here, organiser Sally Hinchcliffe explains how it came about and why it’s so important.  You can also read her co-organiser Suzanne Forup’s take on her experiences here.

guide_dog_crossing

In recent years it has become well understood that if we want to see high levels of cycling, among people of all ages and abilities, we need to provide convenient routes that keep bikes safely separated from motorised traffic. However, this should not come at the expense of other vulnerable road users – particularly visually impaired pedestrians and the disabled. Even where designs have moved away from shared-use paths – which many pedestrians find intimidating to use alongside large numbers of fast-moving bikes (just as many cyclists don’t like mixing with fast and heavy traffic) – some recently built segregated cycle routes have introduced features which make it harder for others to get around. 

Scotland’s design guidance for cycling infrastructure is in the process of being updated. With investment in cycling schemes stepping up a gear, we wanted to understand what were the most problematic features of the sorts of cycle routes being built, to ensure that increases in comfort for cyclists don’t come at the expense of people who have the greatest need for safe, well-designed streets in our towns and cities.

Over the summer we brought together small groups of local cycle campaigners, blind and partially sighted people, and wheelchair users  in a series of events to try and gain a greater understanding of each others’ needs. Together, we explored the surrounding streets and then took what we had learned from each other into a group discussion concentrating on the areas of agreement between us. For some of us it was a massive learning exercise as we started to understand how difficult it was for our fellow participants to navigate features of our streets that we took in our stride. As cyclists, we have become used to feeling that the streets around us aren’t quite designed to meet our needs – but we are immensely privileged in many ways compared to our companions and guides at these workshops. We are grateful for their time and their patience!

Public art Inverness
Exploring Inverness – and some confusing public art

On the whole, what was encouraging was how much we did agree on. In particular, some areas stood out: 

  • We largely agreed that there was a need to reduce the domination of motor vehicles in our towns and cities, and especially private cars, while recognising that for many of the participants cars (and taxis for blind people) are important mobility aids, so removing access altogether is not always possible.
  • Our pavements (footways) need to be better: flat, wide, uncluttered and well maintained. 
  • All other things being equal, bikes, pedestrians and motorised vehicles each need their own, clearly delineated space. 

The key lessons for me, as an able-bodied cyclist, were:

  •  Kerbs are extremely important in how visually impaired people navigate – whether with a guide dog or with (or without) a white stick. No amount of tactile paving or colour contrast can fully compensate for the absence of a kerb.
  • Controlled crossings are the gold standard, not just for blind people. Wheelchair users also benefit from having time to cross as even with a dropped kerb getting on and off the roadway is difficult.
  • While zebra crossings can work for visually impaired people in certain circumstances (where traffic is slowing anyway and not too busy) they aren’t so useful for crossing bike paths because bikes are so quiet and there’s no audible sense of whether they’re stopping, slowing, or accelerating (unlike with motor vehicles).
  • The consultation process is just as broken for visually impaired / disabled people as it is for cyclists. Their objections are frequently brushed aside and they are having to make the same points over and over again. This is particularly important because they can’t simply ‘get off’ their disability the way an able-bodied cyclist can hop off a bike. Shockingly, in this day and age, some of our participants felt that large areas of their own cities were out of bounds to them, unless they had someone to help.

We also had to face some uncomfortable truths. In particular, as campaigners, we need to recognise and acknowledge that bikes do present a specific hazard or worry for visually impaired people because they are so quiet and no amount of quoting statistics or saying ‘what about electric cars?’ will make that go away. Just as we rightly recognise that telling cyclists to ‘man up’ or get training to deal confidently with traffic is not an answer, we cannot brush aside the experiences of more vulnerable road users. This can also go for people with other impairments, some of which may not be immediately visible.

We also have to acknowledge that some common – and cherished – design features of current schemes present particular problems, especially to visually impaired people: 

  • Continuous footways which do not make it clear when a side road is being crossed are deeply worrying to visually impaired pedestrians.
  • Bus stop bypasses make it difficult for visually impaired bus passengers to access their key means of transport. 
  • Cycle tracks which do not have a clear kerb separating them from the footway will bring visually impaired pedestrians into conflict with bikes, especially if the design of the cycle track encourages cyclists to go fast and/or are bi-directional (while remembering that kerbs bring their own problems to people in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues).

None of these issues are insurmountable, however. Decent design guidance, which takes into account the needs of everyone, should enable cycling schemes to be built that don’t impinge on the rights of the most vulnerable to get around. Indeed, with a little imagination and flexibility, we should create infrastructure that enhances our cities for everyone, whether they walk, cycle or wheel.

That is why we are inviting everyone who is interested in making our urban spaces work for everyone to a free workshop in Edinburgh on October 19th to start to find common ground. You can book your free space, and find out more, here.

Consultation fatigue? We’ve got your back!

Join us on Saturday November 3rd in Edinburgh for our latest event: From nonsultation to community empowerment – putting consultations to work

consultation lego 2

After our two successful campaigners’ days in Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, we’re now planning another day covering an issue that affects the whole of Scotland at the moment – making the most of consultations.

One of the things we hear a lot is that consultations – of which there have been a lot in recent months, with more in the offing – are an area where people struggle. Even if they’re not ‘nonsultations’ or bafflingly technical to a lay person, people often end up suffering from consultation fatigue, or simply don’t have the time to attend an event held in the town hall on a Tuesday lunchtime in November. And when you have made the effort to respond, it can all feel like a giant waste of time. And yet, the alternative – not being consulted – seems worse.

That’s why we’re joining forces with the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland to run a joint event that will try and demystify the process of consultations, challenge some of the ways that they happen, and establish what the barriers are to people getting their perspective across.

Here’s the outline programme:

10.30 Refreshments, registrations

10.45 Welcome

10.50 Opening address: Lesley McInnes (Transport Convener for Edinburgh Council) and Daisy Narayanan (Sustrans and lead officer for the Central Edinburgh Transformation project)

11.10 Current consultations – what are we being consulted on (and why it matters)

 11.30 Workshops (1)

  •  Diversity and equality – How to engage unheard voices: Women’s Cycle Forum
  • What is a quality response? A view from the inside: Anna Herriman
  • Masterminding local consultation responses: GoBike and Spokes

12.15 Comfort break

12:30 Workshops (2)

  • Get your rulers out – a geek’s guide to responses: Alex Ingram of Wheels for Wellbeing and the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain
  • Community Empowerment Act and local governance
  • How to get the most out of local housing developments for walking and cycling: Morag Haddow, East Lothian Council

1.15 Lunch

2.00 Roundtable discussions, world café style – What are the barriers to responding to consultations, and how can the process be improved?

3.00 Panel reflections and learning points

3.30 Close

This free event will take place on Saturday 3rd November in Edinburgh – please book now.

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

North of Scotland Campaigners’ Day – book now!

Our northern Scotland campaigners’ day is now open for booking! Saturday 29th September 11-4

wcv_bike_track2

The elections may be over for a while, but #walkcyclevote continues! With the Scottish Government ‘Programme for Government’ announcement in September 2017 doubling the active travel budget it has never been more important to work together to ensure that investment pays off.

For some of us, that means carrying off the balancing of supporting new (and possibly controversial) initiatives from the powers that be – while still continuing to hold them to account. For others, it means making sure our local areas don’t miss out or get left behind in the dash for active travel money. Either way, campaigners old and new will need new skills and new ideas as we move into a potentially exciting future.

Join us in Aberdeen at the Coffee House with Aberdeen Cycle Forum and BikePaths4UnionStreet for the second in a series of localised training and networking events to share and learn from campaigners and organisations across Scotland who are working to transform their local areas – and our country. Book now – it’s free, but spaces are limited so don’t risk missing out.

Programme

10.30 Refreshments available

11 Welcome, introductions and programme

11.10 Setting the scene – funding is now available, but is there a need to change local political and public mindsets?

11.30 Local campaign in Scotland – what’s working for walking and cycling (Lizzie Reather, Cycling UK Scotland)

12.15 Short (5 minute) presentations from local groups

12.45 Local issue discussion in groups (Part 1) – What need to be changed?

1.15 Lunch and networking

1.45 Round up of creative campaigning techniques and how they have been used (Sally Hinchcliffe, Pedal on Parliament)

2.15 Local issue discussion in groups (Part 2) – How can change can be acheived?

2.45 Short (5 minute) presentations from local groups

3.00 Panel discussion

3.30 Next steps – action planning

4.00 Close

The event is free to attend but we are unable to provide lunch on our small budget – there’s a cafe downstairs!

When it comes to cycling infrastructure, communities really can do it for themselves

Sustrans Scotland’s Community Links programme now makes it easier for communities to not just campaign for better infrastructure, but also to have a hand in developing it. In this guest blog, Charlotte Otter of Sustrans explains more:

Communities up and down Scotland are daring to dream and thinking big about how their neighbourhoods can and should be improved to make it easier and safer to walk and cycle – and there is now funding available to make these dreams a reality.

From identifying local routes and networks, which can make it easier and safer to travel actively, to boosting local economies by creating vibrant and attractive places for people to visit and spend time in, local community groups have the power to make significant and positive differences to the lives of people living and working within them.

Through Sustrans Scotland’s Scottish Government funded Community Links programme, community groups and developments trusts have the chance to apply for up to £2million of funding for schemes aimed transform town centres and neighbourhoods into more attractive, accessible and people-friendly public spaces that make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle for more of the journeys they make every day.

Up to 100% of funding is available through the programme towards the design and feasibility of projects that encourage walking and cycling and up to 50% of match-funding for the total construction cost of a project.

Meanwhile, through our Safer Routes to School programme, funding is available to community groups to support infrastructure developments around school catchment areas and clusters to make it easier and safer for pupils to walk, scooter and cycle to school safely.

A major characteristic of these two programmes, which set them apart from other grants, is the support, guidance and enthusiasm that Sustrans is able to offer to community groups and development trusts. We are experts in helping to develop walking and cycling infrastructure and are on hand to support successful applicants to develop aspirational designs and strategic projects that put walking and cycling at their heart.

And, by working with Sustrans, you have the opportunity to access expertise from our Schools, Communities, Workplaces and Behaviour Change teams, as well as Research and Monitoring and Communication teams helping to better realise a project’s ambitions.

Muthil to Crieff path opening
The Muthil to Crieff path on its opening day

One such example is a project carried out by Perthshire’s Muthill Village Trust, which saw the creation of a 1.5km surfaced path stretching from the outskirts of the village of Muthill towards nearby Templemill. The path offers active travel opportunities for the whole community and is the first stage of a link which will eventually connect Muthill with Crieff via a 6km route using off-road paths, quiet country roads and a bridge over the River Earn.

Getting community backing is the best way of tapping into the wealth of local knowledge and expertise; it encourages dialogue and collaboration and – crucially – buy-in from right across the community for schemes, often resulting in schemes that are much better for everyone

Whether it’s the creation of green spaces, new walking or cycling routes, safer junctions and routes to schools or the widening of existing routes to improve access to local shops, businesses and public transport, we want to support and empower to local people to come together and really influence how their neighbourhood can develop and flourish.

Find out more about setting up your own community group

South of Scotland Campaigners’ Day – book now!

Our southern Scotland campaigners’ day is now open for booking! Saturday 8th September, 11 – 4

wcv_bike_family1

The elections may be over for a while, but #walkcyclevote continues! With the Scottish Government ‘Programme for Government’ announcement in September 2017 doubling the active travel budget it has never been more important to work together to ensure that investment pays off.

For some of us, that means carrying off the balancing of supporting new (and possibly controversial) initiatives from the powers that be – while still continuing to hold them to account. For others, it means making sure our local areas don’t miss out or get left behind in the dash for active travel money. Either way, campaigners old and new will need new skills and new ideas as we move into a potentially exciting future.

Join us in Kilmarnock with the South Ayrshire Paths Initiative for the first in a series of localised training and networking events to share and learn from campaigners and organisations across Scotland who are working to transform their local areas – and our country. Book now – it’s free, but we can only accommodate limited numbers in the venue so don’t risk missing out!

We’re still working on a few additional speakers but the programme at the moment looks as follows

Programme

11 Welcome, introductions and programme

11.10 Setting the scene – funding is now available, but is there a need to change local political and public mindsets?

11.30 GoBike and how they are working to help transform Glasgow for walking and cycling (Iona Shepherd, GoBike)

12.30 Local issue discussion in groups (Part 1) – What need to be changed?

1.00 Lunch and networking

1.45 Round up of creative campaigning techniques and how they have been used (Sally Hinchcliffe, Cycling Dumfries)

2.15 Local issue discussion in groups (Part 2) – How can change can be acheived?

3.00 Panel discussion

3.30 Next steps – action planning

4.00 Close

The event is free to attend but we would welcome a contribution towards the cost of lunch and venue to make our small budget stretch further

Save the date! Campaigners’ days for the south and the north

Save the dates – we’re holding two one-day campaigners’ workshops to reach those who can’t make it easily down to the Central Belt …

On Saturday 8th September we’re joining forces with new Walk Cycle Vote supporter the South Ayrshire Paths Initiative – this will be held at the Killie Browser at Kilmarnock Station and should easily reachable by those in Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire, and also Glasgow.  More details here – including how to book.

Then on Saturday 29th September we’ll be in Aberdeen (at the Coffee House) with BikePaths4Aberdeen and the Aberdeen Cycle Forum. More details here – including how to book.  Original campaigners' day

Our campaigners’ days in Edinburgh and Glasgow have proved to be great networking and knowledge sharing events, helping build a community of people across Scotland who want to make things better for active travel. We’re still working on the details – but this is the schedule we had for our last event in Glasgow. Whether you’re a seasoned campaigner, or just want to see some change, they’re a chance to learn new skills, meet new people, and get energised for the battles ahead!

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