From zero to 200 miles of cycle route: 40 years of cycle campaigning
“Many councillors have never before considered the needs of cyclists, and do not believe that there is a large demand for better cycling facilities,” Spokes 1978.
“Spokes led that charge, which was a lonely position when Spokes began … but they were right,” Cllr Adam McVey, Leader of Edinburgh City Council, 2017.
Hear how cycling went from being an outdated eccentricity, forbidden in parks and with no funding, to an accepted part of transport, making up 8% of commuter trips and 10% of the Edinburgh Council transport budget.
In Spokes’s first 15 or so years public support was weak, cycling was seen as abnormal, and so councillors concentrated on politically easy opportunities – mainly the extensive disused rail paths. Even a Middle Meadow Walk cycleway was hugely controversial and took 7 years to achieve. But these measures began to increase cycle use.
In the second 15 years, with numbers of cyclists rising, the public began to see cycling as more ‘normal’, and councillors found the courage to install widespread on-road coloured cycle facilities, despite motorist opposition.
The widespread facilities greatly increased public awareness of cycling as an accepted transport mode, and numbers continued rising. But now more people experienced ‘car in cycle lane’ problems, health awareness grew, and so did knowledge of cycling infrastructure in Europe. Now councillors found the courage to move to the current stage – on-road segregated provision.
When Spokes began its first campaign, one Edinburgh Councillor said: “Spokes can get lost and take its Commie friends with it.”
Now, at Spokes’s 40th anniversary, Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone said, “Cycling in this city would not have come on … we would not have had 10% of Edinburgh’s transport budget spent on cycling if it wasn’t for Spokes.”
After the talk, there will be plenty of time for discussion.
Exhibition from 19:00. Talk from 19:30. Q&A from 20:30. Stall with maps and leaflets.
Tickets: Adult £5, Concession £3 (On the door)