Jon Snow, CTC President and newscaster, chairs Cycling Scotland Conference

Jon Snow CTC President & Chris Oliver on the new Glasgow 'Bridge to Nowhere' on a infrastructure study ride at the 2013 Cycling Scotland Conference
The ninth Cycling Scotland Conference was held at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow. The conference bought together active travel professionals, campaigners, volunteers, national and local politicians to learn from each other and to network.

Jon Snow, CTC President, made a charismatic chairman of the ninth 2013 Cycling Scotland Conference

In his opening statement, Jon said he'd seen “...more segregated infrastructure in his cab ride from Glasgow station to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome conference venue than in all of London!”

Jon also said that he was pleased be part of the adventure created by cycling, and to see the enormous cohesion between key figures in Scotland coming together for the event. He saw a lot being achieved in Scotland, despite the enormous challenges ahead.

Jon said of Alison Johnstone, Green MSP and Co-Chair of the Holyrood Cross Party Group on Cycling, that she gave the "most inspiring speech by a (cycling) politician, ever!" He was most impressed too by Cycling Scotland’s Bikeabililty cycle training program. Jon also rode out on a guided study tour of Glasgow infrastructure with John Lauder, Director, Sustrans Scotland and Chris Oliver, CTC Scotland Chairman to the 'Bridge to Nowhere' over the M8. 

In summing up, Jon said that for cycling, "Everybody was doing something and that the whole cycling movement represents the strength of Scotland as a nation."

Keith Brown (MSP, Minister for Transport and Veterans) talked much about partnership working and progress across Scotland. He promised that in 2014 he will attempt to cycle the whole 50 miles of Pedal for Scotland from Edinburgh to Glasgow. He told us that investment in cycling is at a Scottish high and outlined the updates in the Cycle Action Plan for Scotland (2013), and commended the Annual Cycling Summit. He explained that transport infrastructure in Scotland lags behind for road transport and cars and explained the necessity for continual big projects such as the New Forth Crossing and A9 dualling to maintain and keep up with transport infrastructure. He is planning a vision for active travel.

Cllr Frank McAveety (Convener, Sustainability and the Environment Policy Development, Glasgow), spoke of Glasgow cycling regeneration, active travel, desire for segregated lanes and paths, safer routes and grappling with making the best use of resources.

Andrew Gilligan (Cycling Commissioner for London) said the biggest developments in cycling were outside London. He was keen to see how the progress in Wales with active travel would be followed in the rest of the UK. He described London, which has a budget of £913m, as the '5th Kingdom of the UK'. Its active travel vision, he said, was not just for cyclists, and he saw the need for the Mayor to 'de-lyrcafy' cycling. He said transport needed to be reshaped given that 'heavy metal' transport is incapable of solving all problems. He observed that the whole country was littered with bad cycling schemes - and, in fact, that there had only been 1% cycle growth this year in London. He thought that safety worries and media *over* reporting had perhaps put people off.

Alison Johnstone (MSP, Co-Convener, Cross-Party Group on Cycling, Holyrood) gave a very honest report of where cycling was up to in Scotland. She spoke of the development of the Cross-Party Group on cycling at Holyrood and its nine meetings. The group, she said, had significantly raised the profile of cycling at ministerial level.  She reported on the need for segregation, capability to take bikes on trains on the new borders railway and the important issues of presumed liability.  

Ian Aitken (Chief Executive, Cycling Scotland) gave a report on where Cycling Scotland was up to, together with updates on the respect campaign and on the Cycle Action Plan for Scotland, CAPS 2013.

Craig Burn (Chief Executive, Scottish Cycling) gave a significant talk from within the velodrome pit on how to link up sport cycling with recreational and commuting transport.

The conference also offered a series of useful roundtable workshops with representatives from campaign groups, local authorities, the Scottish Government and community groups. Donald Urquhart, CTC Scotland Secretary, gave a workshop on CTC's Road Justice campaign.

There were also virtual and practical cycle tours so that delegates could see the good points and bad points of Glasgow's cycling infrastructure first hand.

Much Tweeting occurred on social media, and the post-meeting speaker presentations will go on the meeting's website

The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome was a great venue for the conference. The diverse delegates numbered around 300 and mostly I doubt that 'the converted', needed talking to and perhaps not many would have had a 'nirvana' cycling moment that day. However, the major objective of the conference was for networking and this was certainly achieved in the pit in the centre of the Velodrome track.

So, overall, the Cycling Scotland conference was a very useful and informative networking meeting with some great and inspiring speakers. There was good quality discussion on how national and local initiatives are helping to increase Scottish cycling. 

For the future, cycling will enjoy significant exposure in Scotland in Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the CTC National AGM will be in Glasgow in May 2014

Dr Chris Oliver
Chairman CTC Scotland
Twitter @cyclingsurgeon