We’re asking everyone who cycles in Scotland – or who would like to cycle, or would like their families to cycle, but who doesn’t feel safe – to join us for a big ride of our own – and a big picnic. Young and old, keen commuter or weekend pedaller, fit or not – you don’t even need to be on a bike. You just need to show up and add your voice to help make Scotland safe for cycling.
Given the weather in Scotland, it would be unwise to plan on doing the cycle ride naked, though in Peru a massed protest against dangerous conditions for cyclists did just that:
“This is our body. With this, we go out in the streets. We don’t have a car to protect us.” –Octavio Zegarra
I don’t cycle for historical reasons – bus drivers and roundabouts scare me – even though there is a considerable network of cycle paths that make use of the disused space where the light rail network used to be.
When a cyclist was killed by a taxi in Corstorphine last Monday, there was a call for a safety campaign and a reminder that the Scottish government wants 15% of all journeys to be made by bike by 2020. Cycle paths can only do so much – what’s needed is safer roads.
Safer roads would be better for everybody. In 2010, 208 people were killed on Scotland’s roads, nearly 2000 seriously injured, and over eleven thousand were “slightly” injured.
Provisional figures show that in 2010 208 people were killed on Scotland ‘s roads, 1,960 were recorded as seriously injured and 11,156 suffered “slight” injury. Most of the casualties were travelling in cars (8,293, 105 of whom died), 2,011 were pedestrians (47 were killed), 844 were motorcyclists (35 died) and 781 were pedal cyclists (7 died). There were 1,375 child casualties, of whom 4 died.
Over the whole of the UK, in 2010/11, the total number of deaths on the railways was 248. One railways employee died from a fall; four pedestrians were killed at level-crossings; eight passengers were killed in accidents at stations; 27 people were killed during trespass incidents; and 208 people used the railways to commit suicide. (The Independent, 1st July 2011)
Travelling by train or bike is safer for everyone. As Mehdi Hasan points out:
The 16-year rail privatisation experiment has been an utter disaster. Above-inflation increases in UK train fares – that are now the highest in western Europe – make it more and more unpopular as time goes by. Tory ministers, their cheerleaders in the right-wing press and their Blairite fellow-travellers in the Labour Party often forget – or choose to ignore! – that there is a clear majority in favour of renationalisation of the railways – on the left and the right.
The 8-point charter which the Scottish Parliament are being asked to consider:
- Proper funding for cycling
- Design cycling into Scotland’s roads
- Slower speeds where people live, work and play
- Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
- Improved road traffic law and enforcement
- Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
- A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training
- Improved statistics supporting decision-making and policy
Brian Souter, SNP donor, whose “transport interests” include trains, wants to see the railways reformed by handing him and other rail operators the tracks as well as the trains. We are unlikely to see cheaper train or bus travel in Scotland while Souter influences Scottish government policy. But that is an essential part of creating safer roads – ensuring that people can get out of the habit of using their cars when they don’t need to. Another question for what the SNP’s plans are for an independent Scotland – will we see the buses re-regulated and the railways nationalised, for the sake of cheaper fares and road safety?
(More about Pedal on Parliament at the City Cycling Edinburgh Forum.)