It's not too late to book your place at this year's virtual conference - and here's why you should be participating....
The National Active Travel Conference is the annual event for everyone whose professional life touches on the need to promote and develop active travel in Scotland. We've thought of five good reasons why you should attend this year's event:
It's virtual - but it's vibrant! Yes, we're all a bit Zoomed-out, but our conference platform is a bit different. In between sessions you can take a seat at a virtual table and take part in real-time video networking with colleagues and friends from the sector. We don't tell you where to sit or make you take part in scary speed networking sessions - it's up to you where you sit, and you never know who you might meet or what conversations you might strike up.
Diverse and relevant programme: During the day we've got inspiring keynotes, informative presentations and engaging debate sessions - and you can choose which sessions to attend. The breakout sessions themed around topics directly related to the conference theme: Priority for recovery: the importance of active and sustainable travel.
Keynote addresses: This year we'll have keynote addresses from Dr Paul Kelly of University of Edinburgh University, and newly-appointed Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey, whose brief includes active travel and the decarbonisation of public transport. The conference will once again be hosted by broadcaster Dougie Vipond.
Engaging exhibitors: We know that when we are able to hold our conferences live and face-to-face, our attendees enjoy chatting with exhibitors during the breaks. This virtual conference offers exactly the same opportunity, with nine key organisationsin the sector ready and willing to chat about their innovations and developments. Pop into their virtual booth, pull up a virtual chair and find out what they have to offer.
And last but not least: In recognition of the difficulties many organisations have faced in the last year, the organising committee has reduced the ticket price to just £25 + VAT.
In this guest blog, Cycling UK's research and evaluation manager previews some fascinating data emerging from the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme.
"With a third of Scottish households having access to an adult bike and Covid-19 reducing public transport options for many people, the Scottish Government funded 30,000 bike services and repairs up to the value of £50 starting in August 2020.
By April 2021 over 23,000 bike repairs had been completed at over 315 bike shops, active travel organisations and independent mechanics under the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme, with the final repairs to be completed by June. Cycling UK is administering the project and have collected over 4,000 follow up surveys from repair recipients so far.
From interim data, there are already glimpses of a bigger, fascinating picture. So far it appears that repair recipients in rural areas were just as likely as their urban counterparts to say they had started or intended to start cycling for journeys that they had previously taken by car, demonstrating the impact of the scheme in encouraging a modal shift to cycling in all types of community across the country.
“[Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme] allowed me to get my bike properly repaired when I wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise,” says Sarah, from the Isle of Skye, who has been using her bike for essential journeys.
The data so far also shows huge wellbeing benefits for repair recipients alongside greater transport flexibility. The full dataset will provide a nationwide insight into the motivations and influences on cycling behaviour.
Final reporting on the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme will be complete by July 2021. For more information, please contact Corra Boushel, research and evaluation manager on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Cycling UK in Scotland on Twitter and Facebook."
Cycling UK are among the organisations presenting at the National Active Travel Conference 2021. There's still time to book your ticket for the conference on 2 June if you haven't done so already. Book your place now for just £25 + VAT at the button below.
The full agenda for the 2021 National Active Travel conference has been unveiled, with inspiring keynotes and stimulating debates supported by presentations from projects around the country. All address the conference theme for 2021: “Priority for recovery – the importance of active and sustainable travel.” As in previous years’ live events, the virtual conference will be hosted by broadcaster Dougie Vipond.
Distinguished academic, Dr Paul Kelly, will deliver the keynote address in the morning of the conference. A lecturer in physical activity for health at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Kelly researches and writes widely on the subjects of evaluating initiatives aimed at increasing physical activity, and the measurement of health behaviours. He'll be addressing the conference on issues such as behaviour change, campaigning communications and challenging different views.
Attendees at the virtual conference will have the choice of three breakout sessions in the morning and another three in the afternoon.
You can see the full breakdown of sessions and synopses of all presentations here.
The conference will conclude with a panel debate session with leaders from the four spearheading organisations tackling issues around the challenges faced by the Active Travel sector in the last year, and the priorities for the year ahead.
The line-up of virtual exhibitors has also been revealed. Nine organisations will be staging virtual exhibition booths rich in content, and conference-goers are urged to visit the booths, engage in real-time networking to learn about great innovations from the sector’s supply chain.
This year’s National Active Travel Conference will feature a leaders’ panel with senior figures from the four spearheading organisations talking about the challenges the sector has faced over the past year, and looking forward to the priorities for building back better.
In this guest blog, Stuart Douglas, Smarter Choices Smarter Places Manager at Paths for All, gives some of his thoughts.
“Lockdown has brought with it many challenges to the sector. Local and national government have focussed their attention and efforts on dealing with Covid, rather than building their response to Climate Change and prioritising sustainable travel. This priority has been replicated in the third sector with agencies focussing their activities on supporting the most vulnerable and ensuring key workers can travel to work safely. So collectively the momentum that had been generated in previous years has been paused and we need to reignite the passion and commitment that may have been lost.
The seismic reduction in use of public transport has accelerated a worrying decline in patronage that will take a concerted effort to reverse. It was a big task to get people out of their cars and onto public transport before lockdown, it is an even bigger ask now.
Embedding the changed behaviours that have seen more people walking and cycling than ever before has to be a priority. Building on the momentum of people experiencing their local community as a pedestrian or a cyclist so it becomes everyday behaviour, not just something that is done during a pandemic. Lockdown has created a new audience of people who have experienced the benefits of quieter streets, improved physical health and living without the need for a car.
There is real hope that embedding home-working as a norm will reduce car use. If people do not need a car to commute, there is a real potential that they will question the need to have one at all. There is a whole new audience of people that are on the cusp of changing their regular travel behaviours. The sector needs to make sure it is communicating with this new group of people, helping them to keep up their new behaviours.
Paths for All has continued working with local communities throughout the pandemic. We will build on this work across all our workstreams. There is a resurgence in Health Walks across Scotland as people want to carry on their new found love of walking. Enhanced awareness of local greenspace will result in more community groups taking responsibility to improve their local path networks. Our Step Count Challenge is a great motivator to keep people walking rather than slipping into sedentary activity.
Our communication activity will inspire and motivate individuals and agencies to keep walking. Our Smarter Choices Smarter Places programme has expanded, with an additional £500,000 available in open grants and we are looking to reach newer and more diverse projects the length and breadth of Scotland. We will be promoting good practice and celebrating successes through the year, demonstrating that walking and wheeling is something that everyone can do every day, everywhere.”
Paths for All is one of the Active Travel Delivery Partners spearheading the Active Travel conference on 2 June. Book your place now for just £25 + VAT here.
In this guest blog, Natalie Cozzolino of Cycling Scotland unpacks some of the statistics around the massive increase in cycling in Scotland over the past year:
Scotland has seen a surge in the number of people cycling in the past 12 months.
At Cycling Scotland, we measure levels of cycling rates across the country, using a network of up to 60 automatic cycle counters in our National Monitoring Framework to help build a nationwide picture.
Statistics we released on 6 April 2021 show a 47% increase in cycling journeys recorded between 23 March 2020 and 22 March 2021 - one year since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in Scotland.
In 2020, increases of 68% in April, 77% in May, 63% in June, 44% in July and 33% in August were recorded, compared to the same months in 2019.
September 2020 saw a rise of 32%, followed by October (22%), November (7%) and December (4%). During bad weather in January this year, cycling rates decreased 14% before rising 20% in February 2021.
Latest figures from the Bicycle Association show sales of bikes, bike parts, accessories and services increased by 45% across the UK in 2020, with the trend set to continue.
Rabaha Arshad is studying for a Doctorate in Children’s Literature at the University of Glasgow. She was inspired to learn how to cycle during lockdown, after watching a neighbour park their bike outside her window every day. Encouraged by stories of other adult beginners, Rabaha began one-to-one lessons at community cycling charity Bike for Good.
As Rabaha’s skills developed, so did her confidence. “I suddenly started becoming aware of cyclists all around me, it was like I’d joined a secret community. While walking back from a lesson through Botanic Gardens I approached three women with bikes sitting on a bench and introduced myself. I would never have had the courage to do that before I started cycling!”
Rabaha has been enjoying discovering new cycle paths and connecting different parts of Glasgow on her bike, and is planning longer cycle trips to Loch Lomond and Edinburgh in the future.
Our Cycling Scotland Chief Executive, Keith Irving, says: “Cycling has a key role to play in people getting exercise and fresh air, managing the ongoing pressure on our transport system and, crucially, tackling the global climate emergency we face.
“We’re delighted at the massive increase in cycling and it’s vital we see it continue and expand.
“To get even more people cycling, we need to invest more in infrastructure so people feel safe to cycle. We need more dedicated cycle lanes, separated from vehicles and pedestrians. We need to reduce traffic, especially on residential and shopping streets. And we need to increase access to bikes and storage to tackle the barriers too many people face so anyone, anywhere can enjoy all the benefits of cycling.
“Helping far more people to cycle is key in delivering a green recovery from Covid and supporting a just transition towards a net-zero Scotland. Every journey cycled will make a difference.”
Visit cycling.scot to learn more.
Cycling Scotland is one of the Active Travel Delivery Partners spearheading the Active Travel conference on 2 June.
In this guest blog, Isobel Leckie of the Causey Development Trust discusses the frustrations of delays and red tape facing community-led developments.
She writes: “For a single weekend in May 2007 as part of the Six Cities’ Design Festival, grass replaced tarmac, palm trees replaced road signs, a pink carpet was laid, and people replaced cars as the distinctive triangular space known as The Causey in Edinburgh was transformed into a tropical island.
More than 1500 people visited and posted their thoughts on an Ideas Tree, expressing their enthusiasm for the project and for the underlying idea that our streets need to be designed for people.
We at the Causey Development Trust, an entirely volunteer led charity, have spent the last fourteen years designing and consulting on plans to reclaim the space for the local community, facilitating safer walking and cycling and drawing attention to this oft-forgotten corner of the southside of the city.
But despite overwhelming approval from the local community, we’ve still got some way to go. We’ve got a fully costed design for the transformation by Ironside Farrar Landscape Architects, and have clearly mapped out routes to funding, but Covid-19 has put a hold on the Environmental Impact Assessment stage as we are awaiting a formal in person hearing to consider objections to the relevant Traffic Regulation Order and Redetermination Order. This delay, of over two years now, has even led to the loss of some funding.
It’s frustrating to say the least.
Surely it is time for the current TRO/RSO process to be overhauled and fit to nurture the community empowerment exemplified by Causey Development Trust?
But we are undeterred and convinced that someday in the near future, the Causey will once again be a haven for walkers and cyclists. Maybe without the palm trees, though.”
Isobel Leckie will be speaking at the National Active Travel Conference on 2 June about the award-winning Causey transformation project, sharing learning about public engagement, working with local authorities, sourcing funding and managing capital works.
The Covid-19 crisis has undoubtedly been the most challenging and difficult period the entire country has faced in decades. People have faced personal loss and financial difficulty on an unprecedented scale.
Yet the past year of long periods of full lockdown, and shorter periods of lockdown-lite, has clearly had some benefits for active and sustainable travel.
Reduced traffic in our towns and cities suddenly opened up the streets to walkers and cyclists in a way that would have seemed unthinkable, pre-pandemic.
Restrictions which allowed us out only for daily exercise encouraged people to walk and cycle where previously their exercise of choice might have been the pool or the gym, or indeed nothing at all.
The question is, how do we lock in the benefits of lockdown?
The National Active Travel Conference 2021 will consider this question along with several other key issues facing the active travel community as we emerge – hopefully – from this long and difficult period. We'll be asking:
Speakers from a wide range of organisations will tackle these questions and many more, setting out what they’ve learned from the past year and presenting exciting ideas and best practice which could be adopted across Scotland in months and years to come.
Book your place now for just £25 + VAT.