The work doesn’t stop when you’ve run your pop-up Pop – in fact that’s when it begins! In this guest post, Spokes Porty explain how they followed up from their successful pop-up event and what impact that has had.
We set up Spokes Porty, a local group of Spokes – the Lothian Cycle Campaign, in late 2018. Spokes Porty is working to make walking and cycling safe, easy and fun for everyone in and around Portobello. Portobello suffers from heavy traffic, pavement parking and limited cycle infrastructure. Despite a number of serious incidents in the area, including fatalities, there have been few infrastructure improvements. Cycling, scooting, and walking access is particularly difficult to two of the local primary schools and a high school. There are no current funded projects at a network level to improve safety and encourage walking and cycling in Portobello.
The local Pedal on Parliament Pop Up Pop (April 26th 2019) was a great opportunity for us to run our first local event. We invited local politicians, including our local MSP Ash Denham, to come with us on the morning school run, to St John’s RC and Duddingston Primary Schools. The idea was that local children would point out the challenges they faced on the route: from dangerous junctions through to heavy traffic, the absence of safe cycling infrastructure, dangerous drivers, idling engines, problem parking, and drivers reversing out of driveways across pavements.
We had two main aims for the event: to build relationships with as many people as possible in the area; and to raise safety issues with local politicians with a view to improving infrastructure and reducing dangerous driving and parking.
We ran the event as a project. Crucial elements included getting the involvement of the schools and parents, a risk assessment of the route, communications and press, and ensuring enough people turned up on the day to make the event a success. The good organisation paid off. Despite the poor weather we had a great turn out. Our local MSP attended along with two councillors, our press release was picked up, a journalist from the Portobello Reporter attended, and Strider, the Living Streets Scotland mascot, also came along.
We arranged for a local student from Edinburgh Napier University to film the event and produce a short film for us. To maximise impact, we launched the film in Scotland’s Climate Week in October.
Later in the year, the film was used by a delegation from Spokes Porty and others to Edinburgh City Council’s Transport and Environment Committee to support a successful Scottish Green Group motion on safe routes for cycling and scooting to schools. The Council agreed to narrow the road around Duddingston Primary School, and improve signage and road markings at both schools.
Were we successful? Yes and no. We now have stronger links with a number of Council officials as well as parents, children and staff from the local schools. The event, along with other local initiatives, has resulted in some local changes. However, a feasibility study by Capita, undertaken before we got involved with the safer routes to schools issue, concluded that a segregated bike path is still the safest option for Duddingston Road. Sadly the Council has no plans to fund this in the next five years. We are continuing to press for earlier action.