Tuesday 17 April 2012
Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon
What follows is a letter I have just sent to Nicola Sturgeon about Pedal on Parliament
Dr David Brennan
As a cyclist who sometimes passes through your constituency on the way to and from work and as an organiser of Pedal On Parliament (www.pedalonparliament.org), I wanted to contact you to ask if you to ask if you are aware of our ongoing campaign.
I cycle daily to and from work, and I have, over the years learned to cope with the various issues that you face as a cyclist on Glasgow’s roads. Whislt the vast majority of drivers are excellent (and I am a driver myself) I have had to put up with some terrible driving in the past including this incident, which has been widely published in the media (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fqACT1jNV0).
However, I am now the father of three children (6, 4 and 2) who are all starting to show an interest in cycling to different degrees. I would love to encourage my children to cycle as much as possible on their bikes, however, even I, a hardened commuter and cycle campaigner, feel that the roads are far to dangerous to allow my children to cycle on them.
This is wrong. There is absolutely no reason why this should be the case. It is entirely possible to build or redesign our roads such that they are safe and enjoyable for everyone to use, not just when we decide to surround ourselves in a protective metal shell. We don’t have to look far to see how it can be done, as many cities in Europe are building infrastructure that encourages active travel. Copenhagen, and Amsterdam are shining examples, however they are not alone. The likes of Berlin and Seville are working towards the goal of more active travel and succeeding in that aim. Even New York in the US, not a place you would associate with active travel is making excellent progress.
So can it be accomplished here? Is it too wet? Are there too many hills? None of these issues present any significant barrier. When people are asked what their reasons are for not cycling, it is almost always down to the roads being unsafe, or being perceived as unsafe.
The real barrier is political will and funding, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth. If the government was willing to ring-fence just 5% of the overall transport budget, rather than have an extra mile or two of motorway along with similar commitments from local government, we could transform cycling and active travel throughout the whole of Scotland in a decade.
For this reason and for the other reasons described in our eight point manifesto (http://pedalonparliament.org/the-manifesto/), a large number of cyclists and potential cyclists will be pedalling, walking, skating and scooting to Holyrood on the 28th of April to take our manifesto and petition to you and all of the MSPs and councillors of Scotland. Mark Beaumont will be cycling with us and although he can’t make it we also have the moral support of our one of our greatest athletes and cyclists Sir Chrs Hoy.
We understand that Keith Brown MSP will not be able to attend, however, due to the strength of feeling and the importance of this issue we ask that either yourself or someone senior from the government should be present to accept the documents from us and to address those that will be attending the event.
With your help we can bring cycling home to Scotland. With your help we can make Scotland a Cycle Friendly Nation.