Here is my response:Dear Dr Brennan,
Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the Pedal on Parliament event on Saturday 28th April.
Scottish Conservatives do want to see a safer environment for walking and cycling and encourage such exercise as carbon free alternatives to short car journeys.
Given the recent concerns about cyclist safety in Scotland’s cities, I think it is right and proper for resources to be used to make cycling safer in urban areas. However there are parts of Scotland where this is less of an issue and I do not, therefore, agree that local authorities should be compelled to invest 5% of their transport budgets into cycling.
Cycling could and should be promoted as one way of achieving our basic transport needs, but it is clearly not suitable for all journeys, as there are additional challenges in rural areas.That said I do believe we should be integrating cycling into local transport strategies, and that some steps could be taken straight away.If we hope to encourage cycling we must ensure that the safety of cyclists is improved. One way to do that would be through improved training. We must also look at what our schools are doing to ensure that our children are introduced to the benefits of cycling at a young age, that they are encouraged to cycle to school, and that they are given training to do so safely.However, cyclists have obligations. Some cyclists ignore red lights, thereby endangering themselves and others; others do not use proper lighting on their bikes either at night or when visibility is poor; and others still neglect to wear helmets. That is not the responsibility of Government or motorists; it is up to the cyclists to behave responsibly and to undertake the appropriate training.Also, the UK Government is leading discussions at European level on further improving standards for heavy goods vehicles to help reduce accidents caused by poor visibility.The implementation of other measures, such as lowering speed limits and making local authorities spend a certain amount of their budget on cycling, will depend on local decisions and need to reflect local priorities. Nevertheless, local authorities do need to do more to improve the safety of cyclists. Some councils have very good cycle-friendly schemes, but others have been found wanting. We must do more to invest in cycling infrastructure, not least to ensure that our roads are up to cycle quality.Scottish Conservatives will support sustainable travel initiatives and continue to promote cycling and walking and their associated health and environmental benefits.My colleague, Margaret Mitchell MSP, has tabled a motion which calls on the parliament to welcome ‘Big Bike Day’ which will take place on 3 June in Hamilton to inspire local people to take up cycling.Action to improve road safety can and should be taken now.Thank you for taking the time to contact me.Yours sincerely,Annabel M Goldie MSPWest of Scotland Region
Dear Ms Goldie,
Many thanks for replying to my letter where I was asking you to support motion Motion S4M-02764. Whilst I am pleased that you agree that action to improve road safety can and should be taken now I feel there are a number of things that you discuss in your letter that I need to reply to.
I was interested to hear that you do not think that there is no need to make cycling safer in rural areas. I myself am from a village in East Dunbartonshire which I would consider rural (Torrance), and the first 4 miles of my commute to work are on rural roads. One such road that I can take to work, is Balmore Road. If I chose to take this route which is the quickest and flatest, it is often the most unpleasant part of my commute. Whilst large sections of the road have a 30mph speed limit many drivers ignore this and at the same time either pass me too close or endanger other road users with their impatience. For example this type of close pass is not uncommon (http://youtu.be/rJ6QtxSX4Kw). Roads like this would significantly benefit from segregated cycle infrastructure. As it stands there is no way I would take my children on a bike there or on any of the surrounding busy A roads. Whilst there are a couple of alternative cycle routes that I could take my children on such as quieter country roads, or canal paths, to get to them we have to traverse sections of busy road. These back roads and canal paths often do not go where we want to go anyway.
Effectively, to get anywhere with my children the only safe option is to take the car. That is wrong.
Further one of my fellow POP organisers (Sally Hinchcliffe) who comes from Dumfries and Galloway (D&G the second most rural council area in Scotland) points out that:
Dr David Brennan (Joint organiser of Pedal on Parliament)