Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

It’s all about the money. I’m a member of our local Community Council, so I’m up to speed on what our local council are doing and what they would like to do. Councils in general want to do their very best, but just don’t have the money. Below is a video reviewing recent and not so recent cycling infrastructure along the A91, a road that I cycle every day to get to work. Clackmannanshire Council have done a magnificent job with the path between Alva and Tillicoultry, but they need to get the back road behind Alva and Menstrie tidied up quite drastically.

Stirling council have done a fairly half-baked job of widening the path between Logie Kirk and Blairlogie. They would have done a better job, but a local councillor has told me that they have done the best they can within their budget.

If we want people to consider walking or cycling for short journeys rather than jumping into the car all the time and adding to the pollution, congestion, and ill-health of our nation then paths like the Alva-Tilli one should be built all over Scotland, and that will take a proper commitment from the Scottish Government. 5% of the transport budget will take hardly anything away from the motorised roads they want to build, but would go a long way to making Scotland a cycle friendly country. I’ll be at Pedal on Parliament on April 26th to add my voice to the demand that our government tries harder.

The Scottish Government want 10 percent of journeys to be by bicycle by 2020. However they are undecided as to whether this is a target, goal, vision, wish or pipe-dream. To me it’s simple. 10% of journeys requires 10% of the transport budget, not the tiny drop currently allocated to active travel infrastructure. To help us campaign for better provision please join us at the Meadows in Edinburgh, 19th May 2013 at 3pm to travel en masse to Holyrood. Visit for more details.

My new POP song calls for a better allocation of transport funds.

Grab an mp3 version here if you wish.

Song lyrics are below, after the credits or you can switch on subtitles.

Extra special thanks to:
Andy Arthur ( for allowing me to raid his flickr account, and for producing the poster shown at the end (and all the POP art work).
David Brennan ( for the Milngavie Road video and for starting this wonderful movement.
BikingJaz ( who went out especially to get the Paisley footage.
Mark Wagenbuur for the Amsterdam images and the article that inspired verse 3. (…)

Thanks to the following people for letting me use their images and footage:
Chris Hill –…
Mavisness –…
Andy Preece –…
rightee –…

Thanks to Sara Rich Dorman and Sally Hinchcliffe for putting me in touch with some of the folks listed above.


It’s been over a year since I sang “Get On Your Bike”,
In that time we’ve not seen much change, there’s nothing here to like.
When we came here in 2012 you said we’re pushing at an open door,
But the door was jammed only 2 inches wide, for us to fit we’re gonna need some

10 percent needs 10 percent, And that makes so much sense.
If you want to see us walk, run and bike
You’ve gotta build an infrastructure we’d like
10 percent needs 10 percent, So you’ve gotta do a whole lot more
10 percent is what we’re pedaling for.

6 million is not enough to build the system that we need,
It comes to less than 1 percent of the transport budget you agreed.
To build a system worthy of calling Scotland a bike friendly place
You need to put our money where your mouth is, and build the active travel

Amsterdam in the 60s looked like Edinburgh does today.
Cars and buses clogged the roads and cyclists couldn’t see the way.
But when we see what they’ve achieved we gotta ask “Why can’t we?”
With enough commitment, will and gumption the solution is easy to see.

In April 2012 3000 cyclists met at The Meadows in Edinburgh and pedalled to Holyrood to deliver our cycling manifesto. We believe that adoption of the manifesto by the Scottish Parliament will help make Scotland a cycle friendly nation, and help them to deliver their goal of 10 percent of journeys by bike, by 2020.

To see the manifesto you can visit or see the highlights on one of the videos I made for the event.

Since then very little has happened. In the following budget a mere £6 million was allocated to cycle infrastructure. This is less than 1 percent of the total transport budget, and just goes to show that motorised traffic has the priority in the minds of our politicians.

So I hope I can count on you to join us at the Meadows again, 19th May 3pm. We’ll be going at a slow pace so even those without bikes can come and walk with us. If you would like to see Scotland become a cycle friendly nation and help tackle some of our social ills such as pollution, unsafe roads, obesity and unhealthiness then please support Pedal on Parliament.

Dunblane on 16th September 2012. Pedal on Postbox was organised for 2:30pm and the place was rather busy.

Crowds in Dunblane

Crowds in Dunblane

Was all that for Pedal on Postbox?

Actually, no. It turns out that some bloke who is a bit handy with a bat and ball used to live here, and he was visiting.

Anyone recognise him?

Anyone recognise him?

So, after a chat with the local Superintendent on Saturday morning Pedal On Boxbox – Dunblane was rescheduled for 4pm. By then the crowds had dispersed and all that was left was a small queue for photos by the postbox.

Those of us who had turned up had our photo taken by one of the other groups, with our letters to the four councillors for Clackmannanshire North, and the four councillors for Bridge of Allan and Dunblane.

Posting letters to the council

Posting letters to the council

Then a couple of guys turned up a bit later. One of them was Green councillor Mark Ruskell who wanted to show his support and have a chat about cycling in the area. He encouraged us to badger Active Stirling about cycle training in the local schools. I gave them postcards and we had another photo taken.

The full turn out

The full turn out

We then went our seperate ways. A turn out of seven including my family. From small acorns…

Now to work on my cycling version of “500 miles” for the next Pedal on Parliament.

Those lovely people at Pedal On Parliament are organising Pedal On Postbox. The idea is to get together a like minded group of people to descend on a local postbox (ideally a golden postbox so as to hook into the Olympic legacy vibe) for a photo opportunity of us all posting letters and postcards to our local councillors highlighting areas in need of change where cycling infrastructure is concerned, and encouraging them to become agents of these changes.

I saw this as an opportunity to organise my own local event. Other events are happening in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries. There is a golden postbox in the city of Dunblane, in honour of Andy Murray’s Men’s Singles Olympic gold, which is not far from where I live, so I decided to organise an event there at 2:30 pm, Sunday September 16th, 2012.

I live in Alva, which is in the same constituency as Dunblane (our MSP is Keith Brown), but is not in the same local council area. Stirling council are responsible for Dunblane, while Clackmannanshire council look after Alva.

Since I work in the Stirling area, and travel there most weekends I believe I am justified in writing to Stirling council, despite not living within their borders.


Clackmannanshire council have done a fairly good job of late. They have completed the path between Menstrie and Tullibody, and laid smooth tarmac on a stretch of the Menstrie-Alva back road that just a year ago was a gravelly lump.

Menstrie - Tullibody Path

The lovely new path between Menstrie and Tullibody

Alva Back Road

Some new tarmac on the back road, plus gates to stop it becoming a rat run.

View Larger MapGoogle Street View shows how it used to look.
There is a good network of paths in Clackmannanshire, but there are still a couple of journeys that are tricky.

The back road to Menstrie is the only way out of Alva that does not involve a busy main road. If you want to head to Tillicoultry then your choices are either the A91 which is busy, fast and a favourite speedway for some of the local idiots, or up into the hills via the Woodland park, which is tarmac up to the park, but soon becomes bumpy gravel that only the sturdiest mountain bikes can traverse.

If you want to get to Alloa or Sauchie then you can either take the long way via Menstrie, or get your heart in your mouth heading up Brook Street and over the Collyland Roundabout (with its wide lanes, fast approaches and mad drivers).

So, I would like to see Clackmannanshire Council improve cycle access from Alva to other parts of the county, not just Menstrie.


I don’t live in Dunblane, nor do I visit often, but since we’re meeting here I feel I should mention cycle access to the city. There are numerous quiet roads heading north, but Dunblane is a popular residence for people working in Stirling. To get to Stirling on a bike you have three choices.

The first is up the main road towards the Keir roundabout. This roundabout is where the M9 motorway meets the A9 dual carriageway. The traffic here is crazy. I cycle it myself but I would never consider taking anyone but the most confident road cyclists that way.

Dunblane Cycle Path

Cycle path in Dunblane. It’s really just a bit of extra road that was left over when the inside lane was turned into parking spaces. It goes into the door zone in parts.

End of CycleLane

The cycle lane is short-lived. What should I do here? Buckle my wheel on the kerb? Swerve into traffic? This is really poor.

Footpath out of Dunblane

The footpath alongside the road out of Dunblane. It’s not well maintained and not, legally speaking, suitable for cycling.

This video shows how busy the Keir Roundabout gets. This was taken around lunch time on a Friday.

Another choice is via Sherrifmuir. Well, only if you’re a serious climber who likes taking the long way round. It’s a serious climb.

Finally there is Glen Road. Ah, Glen road. It used to be a tarmac road between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, and was used by motorised traffic. However, subsidence into the Allan water meant that the road was closed to motors and given over to walkers and cyclists. Glen road would be the ideal way between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan and beyond if it were not for one problem. The road is a mess. I rode it late last year and managed it on my road bike, even though it was a little slushy. Today I went up there to discover great chunks gouged out of the road. There is also a bit where there has been a mud slide onto the road. The solution has been to use a few logs to make steps up to a narrow muddy path.

Glen Road, Bridge of Allan

Glen Road at the Bridge of Allan end. Shake dem bones on this surface.

Glen Road Sign

According to the sign, Glen Road is a shared use path, with cycling as one of the available uses.

Mud Pile on the road

But a big pile of mud on the road makes access difficult for everyone.

Water damage

What on earth happened here? Flood damage?

Mud Slide

Wow! That’s an impressive mud slide.

Mud Slide Solution

I really hope this makeshift path around the mudslide is not the final solution. It’s not suitable for cyclists or horses.

Dirty Bike

My filthy bike after traversing Glen Road.

Stirling Council need to consider the solutions. Either we need a decent cycleway between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan via the Keir roundabout, fully protected from motorised traffic around the roundabout, or we need a decent surface on Glen Road.

A91 and A907

Travelling from Clackmannanshire to Stirling has been made easier since the new Stirling to Alloa road was opened. The original road is now a joy to cycle, and is easy to access via the paths from Alloa and Menstrie. However, on crossing into Stirling District you then encounter the roundabout where the A907 crosses the A91. This is another crazy roundabout. The only provision here for cyclists are a few dropped kerbs and signs telling us to get off and walk. But where to? Beyond this roundabout there is no cycle provision in any other direction. All you can do is join a busy main road, and believe me the roads are busy enough that I would not like to take my family on them. Would it be possible to build a path from the end of the old Alloa road towards the railway, and cross the A91 under the bridge alongside the railway? I don’t know, but something needs to be done at this roundabout because the status quo is not acceptable. This video shows the roundabout at 5pm on a Friday from the point at which the old Alloa road ends.

These are the three areas that I will be mentioning to our councillors in my letter to them that will be posted in the golden postbox on Sunday.

April 28th 2012 was the most amazing day. I was there. One of around 3000 people who gathered at The Meadows in Edinburgh to cycle to Holyrood and hand in an 8 point manifesto that we believe will make cycling in Scotland safer, and encourage more people to choose cycling over less sustainable forms of transport. Yes, 3000. Seeing the line stretch back along the meadows was fantastic.

More information on Pedal On Parliament can be found at their website. Other people have done an excellent job of blogging about the day, so rather than repeating them, here is my story.

I drove to Edinburgh. I know, I’m sorry, but I live 35 miles from Edinburgh and had my young family with me. Three bikes on the rack and one in the boot, we drove to West Bryson Road where there is free parking on Saturday and it is just by Harrison Park where we met the feeder ride.

There we met Andy who had volunteered to ride my bike and tow my 5 year old son. Andy runs Story Bikes in Edinburgh. My boy really enjoyed riding with him.


A Hase Pino semi-recumbent tandem had been borrowed in order that I might ride on the front playing my guitar. My pilot was Steven, whom I had never met before, and who had never ridden a Pino before that morning. When flung into a situation like this you have to bond and trust each other pretty quickly, and I think we managed it. Eventually. After we had sorted out how to pilot this thing the group set off for the meadows. At the first set of traffic lights the group turned left. All except myself and Steven who had not worked out how to do such a sharp turn and carried straight on. After jumping off and crossing the road on foot we managed to catch up with the group.

Harrison Park Feeder Ride heading towards The Meadows.

Photo by Neil McManus

The feeder ride was an opportunity to get to grips with the Pino, and grip was what I did. By the end of it Steven and I had sussed out how to work together and were a little less wobbly. I even managed to bang out a few chords on the guitar. The police guided us onto The Meadows where we stopped for a picnic and a sing-song.

Photo by Andy Hunter

People then started to move towards the path ready to start so we joined in. We were about 200 yards from the front. Before we headed off there was a minute’s silence in honour of those recently killed in cycling accidents on Scotland’s roads. The minute’s silence was followed by a mass ringing of bells to celebrate cycling in Scotland.

#POP28 – post-minute’s-silence-dinging from wingpig on Vimeo.

Then we were ready to go.

Waiting to leave The Meadows.

Photo by David Martin

By the time we left The Meadows I had got the hang of riding and strumming.

It’s just under a mile and a half to Holyrood from The Meadows and it is hoaching with tourists. A lot of photos were taken that I’ll never see. It’s not everyday you see a madman on a bike playing a guitar.

Stopped on the Royal Mile.

Photo by Richard McCaig

This video gives an excellent summary of the ride. Listen carefully at around 5:40 for a rendition of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” from a cyclist who makes a fleeting appearance at the right hand side of the picture.

My only regret is that it was after the event that I thought of doing a modified version of The Proclaimers’ “500 Miles”. I’ll stick it in my pocket for next time. Before we knew it we were at Holyrood.

It was only after my kids had been in the pool that I saw the sign advising against it. My wife looked after the kids so I could listen to the speeches.

I am left feeling optimistic after hearing the MSPs promise to present our manifesto to Parliament.

It was getting late and the family were tired so we decided to head home. Andy handed my bike back and went off with his wife. Steven headed off on his own with the pino, and I managed to sling the guitar round my shoulders and ride my own bike towing my boy. We followed a cyclist with “Harrison Park Feeder Ride” pennants but he shot off into the distance. I’d like to extend a massive thank you to the heroic Kevin who (despite not heading in our direction) guided us to the Union Canal and pointed us in the right direction along the tow path.

Thanks to Sara for organising the Pino, Robert for lending it to us, Steven for piloting me, and to Andy for taking Douglas and freeing me up to have one of the most fun bike rides ever.

In case you are interested here are a few links about the event.

Firstly is the Pedal On Parliament Flickr group.

David Brennan is the man who started it all. Here’s his blog.

Join our Facebook group if you have not yet done so.

Oh, and we got a beautiful write up from STV.

There is a lot of bluster about AV at the moment so I thought I’d offer my thoughts on why I will be voting Yes to AV.

It’s not an ideal solution but it is a step in the right direction. In particular I want to vote No to First past the Post.

I live in a constituency that is a fairly safe Labour seat. The only party to come close to challenging Labour are the SNP. I would never consider voting for either of these parties. Because of this my vote is wasted. Even though someone counting all votes nationally will see my vote it will never count towards anyone getting into power.

So for me, while AV is not what I want, it is a step in the right direction. Only when my “contrary to the herd” vote can actually mean something will we have true democracy.