CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » General Edinburgh

Does Edinburgh need a 'bicycle mayor'?

(32 posts)

  1. rbrtwtmn

    Amsterdam pioneered something I think is interesting - a 'bicycle mayor'. Other cities have followed their lead.

    The bicycle mayor programme is coordinated by BYCS in Amsterdam.

    I met Areli in Amsterdam in the summer - she's the current bicycle mayor for Mexico City. And certainly inspired me. And Amsterdam itself has its first 'junior bicycle mayor' and is onto its second (non-junior) bicycle mayor. I heard from her too.

    Key learning for me (the conclusions I drew) included that the mayor is elected, but that (as you might expect) the election isn't an official thing. And more importantly, that because of this process the status quo in campaigning (etc) can be challenged somewhat. This seems to me to be a good thing - not because anyone is doing anything wrong but because new blood and new ideas (even if challenging) are almost certainly useful when faced with social change situations.

    I have the contacts we'd need to pursue this. (And I'm not asking because I'm interested in this role myself by the way.)

    Posted 11 months ago #
  2. gembo

    We have Intel suggesting the bicycle champion has hung up his ceremonial bike clips. Also that the different Champions are more sinecures to help SNP elected members have busier portfolios (some champs not SNP). Further from one source, would have been better if tories involved as they could be more critical of coalition inaction or poor policy.

    So yes Cycling Mayor is good idea

    Posted 11 months ago #
  3. I were right about that saddle

    If we do retain universal suffrage then my thinking is that a transformation of cycling in Edinburgh will only come about if a critical mass of the working class demand safe infrasructure. If Muirhouse, Wester Hailes, Gilmerton, Craigmillar and Northfield explicitly ask for their kids to be able to cycle to school and into town on their own then that's what will happen.

    If a cycling mayor was elected by Edinburgh cyclists there would be a risk that that person would live in, and be primarily concerned with, Marchmont.

    Sorry to be a bore, but it is my conviction that the key to cycle campaigning lies in the housing estates. A cycling mayor is a decent idea, but they have to be able to reach outside the group who cycle now because they cycled to university lectures i.e. me.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  4. gembo

    @iwrats, fair point re marchmont. Mayor could ignore marchmont.

    Infra not bad in wester hailes - I mean to build on. There is the canal towpath for east west and the greenway north south.

    Pilton less good. NEPN until Granton turn. Quite good down to the college and the promenade to crammond, or go over red bridge and back up to craigleith then back down to d mains

    IWRATS for Mayor

    Posted 11 months ago #
  5. I were right about that saddle


    Marchmont as a cycling Bantustan? I like it and accept your nomination. Marchmont was my first ever Edinburgh cycling destination.

    Does smartphone snooping extend to social class? Can a class audit be done on the Just Eat Cycle users?

    Posted 11 months ago #
  6. neddie

    It's the southern side of the city (beyond Marchmont) that most desperately needs to be tackled.

    One or two key, arterial, protected, cycle routes along the Comiston Rd and Liberton Gardens corridors are needed.

    When you open out the southern side of the city like that, I reckon cycling rates would double.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  7. I were right about that saddle

    @neddie for Cycling Mayor. The Southside is the Land That Cycling Forgot. (The QBiC is an absurdist sculpture, not a bike path.)

    Posted 11 months ago #
  8. chdot

    “Sorry to be a bore, but it is my conviction that the key to cycle campaigning lies in the housing estates.“

    High degree of truth in that.

    As I have said on here several times, there has been some discussion at CEC, in the past, about ‘spending where people cycle or where they don’t’.

    This was before even 5 ‘% of Transport Budget for cycling’ so the decision was fairly inevitable and probably correct.

    I used to do cycling things in and around Craigmillar, mostly in primary schools. Almost all the children had bikes - they didn’t always work. Adult ownership/use much less than ‘we’ are used to.

    How to alter this will inevitably involve assumptions and presumptions.

    Even the simple phrase “housing estates” may be a distraction. I assume this is normally taken to mean ‘areas of housing built by local authorities with a higher proportion of people on low incomes and a lower % of middle class people than some other areas’.

    Clearly there is still a lot of truth in that, in spite of years of right to buy. In addition there are increasing numbers of housing estates mostly dwelled in by home owners which have been built around the assumption of one or more cars per household.

    As gembo points out, ‘provision’ for active travel is patchy - indeed quite often the legacy of past centuries of transport provision. One of the great things about doing cycling projects around Craigmillar was the Innocent.

    We took about 20 children to the People’s Story Museum, essential all off road. The headteacher came too and was well aware of the educational benefits (not just because of the destination).

    We left the bikes at Moray House. Most children didn’t have locks, we used looped cables and several locks to secure them. In spite of this (and the ‘safe’ location) some children were really worried about their bikes being stolen.

    There are issues beyond ‘cycling’. CEC really should take an area - WH, Pilton/Muirhouse, Craigmillar, Drum Brae, Gyle etc. and take an intensive look at ‘infrastructure’, ‘desire lines’, missing or potential connections to path networks, schools, shops, workplaces etc.

    BUT it shouldn’t be primarily be about cycling. If provision for encouraging people to cycle is poor, it’s likely to be worse for pedestrians and buggy pushers.

    ‘Should that road be reduced to 20mph?’, ‘do those roads need to be open to rat-runners?’, are there enough pedestrian crossings (including places to make make crossing to/from bus stops easier)?’, ‘are school crossing patrol jobs paid well enough to actually attract people to do them?’, etc.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  9. chdot

    “One or two key, arterial, protected, cycle routes along the Comiston Rd and Liberton Gardens corridors are needed.”


    Probably more desirable/necessary than grand schemes like the (stalled) Canal to Roseburn route.

    As suggested above, things like new arterial routes ought to be planned in conjunction with local improvements.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  10. I were right about that saddle


    Good post. Where we are is mixed working class / trades / intellectual bohemians. Personal anecdata suggest that all groups cycle as children before concerns about status and appearance kick in.

    Another big issue is space to store a family's bicycles. Storage for a family car is free.

    Fear of theft and fear of getting jumped in places like the Innocent are very real. I don't think the solutions are too difficult but they are radical.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  11. chdot

    “I don't think the solutions are too difficult but they are radical.”

    I think there is an internal contradiction there.

    But I agree...

    Posted 11 months ago #
  12. chdot

    “Where we are is mixed working class / trades / intellectual bohemians”

    Who is this “we”?

    Posted 11 months ago #
  13. I were right about that saddle

    Who is this “we”?

    Me and the mouldering corpse of my cat. I'm a bohemian but the cat was trades. Pest control and sports massage.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  14. rbrtwtmn

    So my initial question is a genuine one... "do we need" ... but the question could equally well be ... "would it work to have"... or ..."what would make it useful to have"...

    I have no idea how the voting is arranged - but as far as I could make out very little of this process is fixed. They don't even insist on the name 'mayor' - making this flexible to suite local circumstance.

    Is there something about this idea which could in itself lead to
    a) a reach into/out from Wester Hailes (etc, etc - if we accept the premise that this is lacking just now)
    b) a full understanding that what we're all (?) working for is of at least as much benefit for ordinary folks on foot (or using wheelchairs) as it is people cycling.

    In other words, would the bicycle mayor programme itself offer a potential way to start to tackle the very issues which people have already mentioned - and if it were to do so how would it need to be set up to achieve this? Or on the other hand is the idea fundamentally flawed? I tend to believe the former, but I'm a long way from having considered this deeply.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  15. chdot

    “Personal anecdata suggest that all groups cycle as children before concerns about status and appearance kick in.”

    First part - yes.

    Second part - yes.


    Less important than it once was.

    Part of this is due to willingness of some people to spend a lot on something that is largely a status symbol. The fact that there is a significant supply of such readymade bikes demonstrates that (some) things have changed.

    Part of the discussion here is about class - where people live and attitudes to being seen with a bike.

    I think a bigger reality is (or should be seriously considered as) gender.

    ‘We’ know that fewer women cycle - and in spite of a degree of username anonymity, CCE is disproportionately male - not (I hope) because of things that happen here.

    There are many reasons (I can’t pretend this list is comprehensive or accurate).

    • Fear of traffic (hardly female specific).

    • Less choice of suitable bikes - this is much less of an issue these days with many more frame options, way beyond ‘Gents or Ladies’.

    • Responsibilities, (mass generalisation) women are still more likely to be charge of children and message buying. Cargo bikes aren’t that cheap.

    • Strength/fitness - perception that Edinburgh is too hilly for ‘normal’ people.

    • New to car ownership. Until fairly recently young drivers/car owners were more likely to be male (for various reasons). Changes may or may not be related to VW TV advertising.

    CEC’s Quiet Routes started life as Family Routes. I don’t know whether the notion was family group (mainly leisure) rides or parent plus child/ren - also no idea if parent gender was considered.

    ‘We’ have been involved in various things - notably showing off load/children carrying options.

    There have been/are various projects aimed beginners, some specifically at women.

    The increasing popularity/availability of electric bikes will undoubtedly increase the number of people using bikes. These will need secure storage.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  16. chdot

    “In other words, would the bicycle mayor programme itself offer a potential way to start to tackle the very issues which people have already mentioned”

    Let’s hope.

    I’m not clear whether other Mayors are part of councils and have power/budgets.

    I would vote for Lesley Hinds.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  17. neddie


    If you are able to get a 'bicycle mayor' up and running, DO IT!

    The best cycling schemes seem to happen in cities with Mayors.

    We will support you...

    Posted 11 months ago #
  18. Trixie

    If TPTB are serious about making Edinburgh cycle friendly then, yes, we absolutely do need a figurehead to oversee it.

    (Barriers to women cycling - personal safety/groups of wee radges on the off-road paths at certain times of day is definitely a factor in stopping me cycling as much as I'd like. Clearly the answer is to make key arterial routes cycle-friendly to bring 'us' into the body of the kirk as it were.)

    Posted 11 months ago #
  19. rbrtwtmn

    To be clear (answering @chdot specifically but I'm not surprised to need to say this more than once) the bicycle mayors I know details about (Amsterdam/Mexico City) are NOT officials - not part of the local authority. They are, in most senses, campaigners rather than officials.

    Electors are going to have been presumably 'whoever cares enough to vote' or some similar system - with a process organised and run by the existing campaigner (etc) community.

    However one of the things that in the short term has meant there is interest in this programme ( there was lots of excitement on social media about Amsterdam's first bicycle mayor) is that the title sounds official... and I'm guessing that this has led to doors being opened when they would otherwise have been closed.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  20. wingpig

    " spite of a degree username anonymity, CCE is disproportionately male "
    Somewhere in BikeSnobNYC's writings there's a phrase describing cyclisty-cycling as "doing something other people do except wearing hundred-dollar pants and talking about it all the time" but he didn't say if there was likely to be a gender disparity in the practise thereof, or if the talking about it all the time referred to online or in-person.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  21. chdot

    Ta for clarification.

    I’m in favour and sceptical.

    Quite a lot to ask one person to do with not much in the way of resources or expectation of actual influence.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  22. rbrtwtmn

    @wingpig (and others) - gender is one main reason I'm interested in this. Look through the photos of the current incumbents (on the BYCS page I linked to originally).

    8 Female
    5 Male

    @chdot - On the point about a lot to ask of one person, I agree - but I tend to think that this is a role where what's achieved would be by inspiration not by statutory powers. I'd certainly be voting for the person who I thought cleverest with communication, most able to write new rules, to play a new game, not the person who best understood the existing rules and systems.

    This could be a new move of a new piece on the chess board... limited effect, but powerful by being different from what's gone before.

    Or it could be a waste of time and energy.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  23. chdot

    “Or it could be a waste of time and energy”


    (I haven’t looked at the links to what has actually happened elsewhere.)

    Things CAN be done.

    PoP - basically the idea of one person in Glasgow, embraced by enough CCEers to give it momentum (and spread to/taken up by other Scottish cities).

    Posted 11 months ago #
  24. rbrtwtmn

    I just messaged Areli (Mexico City) and she tells me that the Amsterdam election was through the organising of some public events, but that her election used a Facebook group for the 'World Bicycle Forum' (group started in Brazil, conversation mostly in Spanish).

    So, like I said earlier, this is something flexible.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  25. chdot


    The people behind the idea -


    Whatever stage of cycling maturity your city or business is at, and wherever you are in the world, we can support your progress. We are a team of Bicycle Futurists, cultural programmers, communicators, connectors and campaign creators. We run pilots, research, consulting projects and global programs. And we’d love to work with you to accelerate the change we all want to see. We can create bespoke solutions for you through our Impact Services or we invite you to collaborate with us on one of our established BYCS Projects.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  26. I were right about that saddle

    the person who I thought cleverest with communication, most able to write new rules, to play a new game, not the person who best understood the existing rules and systems

    Liking this thinking. No point appointing someone who's already house-trained. We need a sofa-shredder.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  27. chdot

  28. Frenchy

    Possibly relevant:

    EDIT: Definitely relevant, apparently.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  29. chdot

  30. paddyirish

    Maybe needs to follow Amsterdam's example

    Posted 6 months ago #

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