Raising the Standards of walking and cycling in Scotland

Photo of Lee Craigie by bicycle at Caird Hall, Dundee

Lee Craigie at her first official appearance as Active Nation Commissioner at Raising the Standards Day

31 January 2019

Raising the Standards Day is a great opportunity to explore the issues involved in active travel.

To hear from experts across the industry, from within Sustrans alongside national and international professionals, partners and specialists.

We recognise the importance of bringing partners together from across the country to share learning and best practice, and this year was no exception.

With inspirational speakers and interactive workshops, the day encourages partners and stakeholders who we work with to deliver walking and cycling infrastructure, to think about how we can recalibrate our streets in favour of people.

Accessible for all

Lee Craigie opened the day with her first official appearance as Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland. Her experiences as a competitive and endurance rider are well documented. However, she used her opening address to connect on a personal level, talking about her life growing up in suburban Glasgow and what motivates her to make active travel more accessible for the next generation.

“What I wasn’t sure about when I first heard about the job was if I wanted to do it... I like to ride my bike long distances, I like to be free, I’m pretty nomadic. But I had to ask myself 'what is it that I value, what is of most value to me in the world? When I’m lying on my death bed what am I going to look back and think ‘oh yeah that I went for that extra trip on my own on my bike’ or am I going to think ‘I made a difference there, I managed to actually help people change what it is that we value as a society.’”

Matt MacDonald, Head of Project Delivery, Infrastructure, Sustrans Scotland, welcomed everyone to the event. Talking about the importance of collaboration as well as laying out plans for the launch of Sustrans’ design principles and changes streamlining Sustrans’ infrastructure funds.

Urban democracy

Keynote speaker, Danish urban designer Mikael Colville-Anderson (Copenhagenize), gave an impassioned presentation on what is possible when cities commit to change. Expounding urban democracy where walking and cycling become the most efficient way to move people through a city.

In Copenhagen cycling has become the fastest way to travel from A to B. Convenience and speed of travel are the main motivators, a healthier lifestyle and less pollution are just wonderful by-products. The economic benefits, via savings in healthcare and travel time, make for a strong economic argument to convince sceptics, with this model being applied to cities across Europe, Russia, South and North America.

“The bicycle is a powerful symbol but it is also the most important tool in our urban toolbox for improving lives and making cities better.”

Engaging with communities

Transport engagement consultant, Jon Little, went into detail on the Enjoy Waltham Forest (aka Mini-Holland) project which transformed the London Borough. Highlighting the hurdles involved in change and the importance of engagement with the community. The results are incredibly impressive with studies showing that residents will now live on average seven months longer.

“It’s about living, it’s about enjoying where you live, and fundamentally you can’t really do that with 4,000 cars going down your street.”

Healthy Streets

Public health and transport expert, Lucy Saunders asked if our street environment is meeting our basic needs. Outlining ten healthy streets indicators before leading a break out session exploring Dundee.

“If you design a street that works for people, then you are designing a street that works for their health.”

Further breakout sessions on Green Infrastructure and engaging communities in active travel alongside a partner panel and Q&A session gave a good overview of the breadth of Sustrans’ work from city centre transformations to rural projects.

And if there was an overriding theme across the event it was that people and communities should take priority, the dominance of motor vehicles is based on an outdated model that no longer makes sense on health, environmental or economic grounds.

Watch videos from some of the speakers at Raising the Standards Day:

Mikael Colville-Andersen
Jon Little
Lucy Saunders