Wednesday 22 May 2013


I'd like to apologise for my radio silence. I've been notable by my absence here. There are couple of very important reasons for this. First, I've sort of been organising and taking part in Pedal on Parliament 2!


It was bigger, better and louder (more on that later) than last year. Amazing! Personally the most amazing part for me this year was that my family were there. My kids were pretty much the inspiration for Pedal on Parliament in the first place so it was right that they should be there. They thoroughly enjoyed it and now want to cycle more. Job done.....well partly we are still a LONG way from safe roads, but inspiring children is all part of our job.

I have also been very, VERY busy at work. No, I do not write this blog during work time! Unfortunately work has been severely eating into my personal time over the last few weeks. A deadline had to be met and the onus was on me to meet it. There were a few 14 hour working days in there and Sunday was my only reprieve from the onslaught of work (that's why I looked stressed!) but it is done. Until next time.

But what of this anger that I mention in the blog title? The fact is, there is a lot of it about at the moment. I'm sure most are aware now of the Twitter incident where a young girl boasted about knocking a cyclist off. There is anger there.

There was also anger at Pedal on Parliament 2.

Last year POP was very much a polite affair, and we were all far to polite to even say boo to a Panda. This year, it certainly still was a family affair, in fact even more so. There were far more children and families there than there were last year. Yet, the family atmosphere was definitely tinged with anger. Paul Wheelhouse stepped up to speak, and felt compelled to tell us what the government was doing for cycling....ahem...

We should be grateful.

Funnily enough, the crowd was having none of it and made it quite clear to Paul and the government that we are sick and tired of being told that the government takes cycling seriously, when it is plain to see that it doesn't give one hoot about it.

Feed the cyclists a few crumbs, that'll keep them quiet.

Paul found out that it won't. It's time for the government to stop being condescending. We aren't daft. Telling us that you are doing great things when you aren't just doesn't fly. You are doing hee haw.   That's what I'll be telling the Transport Minister Keith Brown next week when I meet him.

There is no doubt that the government isn't walking the walk when it comes to spending on cycling, but that is only part of the story. What are they actually spending that roughly 1% of the transport budget that they do spend on cycling on?

Here's an example. 

The government are giving Cycling Scotland money to provide training for cyclists on how to cycle assertively on the roads to keep themselves safe. It's called Essential Cycling Skills pilot. Seriously!? SERIOUSLY!?!?

Let me spell out the governments thinking.

People feel that the roads are too dangerous.  Hmmm...... yes indeed, the roads are too dangerous or at the very least feel too dangerous. What could we do? We have two options here. Making the roads, actually safer is one option.... Hmmm.... That would cost a bit of money.... Hmmm.... Might save lots of money, save lots of lives, but that wouldn't be transport budget savings....anyway health budgets are outside my remit.....Hmmmm....The other option is agree that the roads are too dangerous, do nothing about it, but teach cyclists how to deal with the dangers. Teach them some essential skills......Hmmm..... It would look like we care, cost us little and show that we are spending something on cycling that we can talk about at POP3. Mind you, by suggesting that these are essential skills will be suggesting that riding a bike isn't easy, it's difficult and that we are continuing to encourage that view....Hmmm.....perhaps we could charge a fee or a tax for this essential skill training in the future....Hmmm.......I think we'll go for option two....

Unacceptable. Totally and completely unnaceptable.

I came across a my own personal example of this line of thinking just the other day. Look at the following picture.

It's a helmet camera picture from a very busy road on my commute. A dual carriageway (Crow Road in Jordanhill for those in the know). I can honestly say in my near 8 years of cycling this road I have never, NEVER, seen any children cycling on this road. I've seen a few on the footpath, but never a child on the road, anywhere from about 2 miles back to about a mile ahead. Not one. Hee haw.

Yet, look at the top left of the picture. There you'll see a picture of a child holding out his arms asking for a bit of 'cycle space'. Brilliant. Just brilliant. So rather than make this road safe (and there is plenty of space to do it) for children, and anyone else for that matter to cycle on, lets just ask drivers, who if they are incredibly, incredibly lucky, might just come across a child cycling on that road, to give just a wee bit of space.

Yes. That'll work.

I've certainly nothing against Cycling Scotland, they are in a difficult position having the government as their paymasters. We certainly will need soft measures alongside the the infrastructure measures, but on their own they are a complete and utter waste of tax payers money. 

So yes, I am angry. Very angry. The question is, when, if ever, will we get even.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Into the Darkness? Let's Shine a light.

It all comes down to facts, and logic. Something that Spock, in the latest incarnation of Star Trek (which I haven't seen yet so no spoilers please!) knows all about. Spock knows that you just can't beat logic. When you have all the facts and figures and you have proved something beyond any reasonable doubt, there can be no more argument. The facts all point to one answer, one solution.
That's exactly where we are with cycling. Investment in cycle infrastructure is....the logical choice. It's the magic phaser...I mean bullet. Invest in cycling and you are investing in Scotland's health, you are investing in a cleaner greener Scotland, you are investing in safer roads, and you are investing in a new modern economy.

But wait....something is wrong....a black hole has appeared on the ships sensors, and it would appear to be sucking the logic away. Yes you've guessed it, there's Klingon's on the starboard bow.....better known as the Scottish Government.

We've been beaming them our facts and figures for a long time now, but their shields have remained up. No matter what attack strategy we use. Logic is wonderful, logic is right, but logic on its own never gets the crew home safely.

We need passion.

Enter James T. Kirk. James is a man full of passion, full of get up and go, full of bluster. Set him off and he'll certainly make some noise. On his own it would be a disaster. He would innevitably get himself into trouble on some distant galactic planet. However, bring Spocks's logic and Jim's passion together, and what do you get? You get the most powerful force in the galaxy.

I suspect you can see where I am heading with this ridiculous blog post now.....

Passion. We need passion, and we need it in bucket-loads. We need to back up the logic which is undeniable, and shout it so loud (politely of course) that the politicians can no longer ignore it. We need to turn up in numbers, as big as we can get, at the Meadows, in Edinburgh, on Sunday at 3pm. We need to turn up, not as cyclists, but as people. Young, old, fast, slow, Lycra'd or jeaned.

I'm not sure if we will have a J J Abrams among us on the day, but I know for sure, with enough people there, with enough polite noise, we can make a scene that will live in the memories of all who take part and witness it.

Let's shine a light into the darkness. Let's make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

More Motorways?

It's a beautiful sunny May morning. The sort of day that makes cycling to work a joy.

Contrast that with the 2.7 miles of queuing traffic that I filter past. It's pretty shocking.

The Scottish Government is determined to modernise Scotland's roads, not by investing in active travel, but by building more motorways. Yes, that's right the governments view of Scotland's transport infrastructure is that we need more and bigger roads. Keith Brown points that out in the following video.

So what will more motorways achieve? It certainly would achieve more capacity for vehicle travel between our cities and so, through the phenomenon of 'induced demand' would probably encourage more people to use their cars more often.

But wait....more cars, more that actually a good thing?

There is of course an argument that economic development requires people to be able to move around quickly and freely, and there is no doubt that allowing more people to travel between our cities could encourage that.

What about the costs though?

Ignoring the cost of building motorways (which is huge!!), there are the environmental costs, increased pollution, isolation of rural communities etc. We often forget these costs.

Looking at my filtering video, is there perhaps a better use of our limited finances? What is the cost of all the time that people loose sitting in traffic jams? What is the cost to the environment of all those cars going nowhere but still emmiting CO2 and pollution? What is the cost to the drivers health? What is the cost to society of a city and a country that excludes the poor and the young from feeling safe on our roads, and thus being limited in their freedoms?

Can we really afford not to invest in cycle infrastructure?

I have a vision of a modern Scotland, but it differs a great deal from that of Keith Brown's and the Scottihs Governments. It's time to make your voice heard.

Enough is enough.

Pedal on Parliament on the 19th May 2013 or we might just live to see Keith's future.

Friday 3 May 2013

What Chance Have We Got?

Seriously. What chance as a cyclist do we actually have? What chance do we have when the law is very heavily stacked against us. Very heavily.

After work I had a quick look at the news and came across this article. Beware it may, if you have any sense of proportion or fairness, make you very angry.

Let me summarise the facts. Not hearsay, but the facts.

Driver is driving badly.

Cyclist is cycling in a perfectly reasonable manner.

Driver hits cyclist and kills them.

Driver has killed a cyclist due to bad driving before.

Driver claims the accident happened due to being 'momentarily' distracted for some reason.

Cyclist must take some blame because they weren't wearing a helmet.

First off, let me be perfectly clear. Momentary distraction is absolutely no excuse for killing a cyclist. None whatsoever. In fact I covered this very issue in a recent blog on a different case. If you are driving in such a way that being distracted for a moment causes you to hit another road user then, I'm sorry, but you are not driving safely at all. What ever happened to driving within the conditions and forward planning? Are these not important skills for a driver these days?

But it gets worse. Much worse. The judge suggests, and I quote,

"Mrs Fyffe wasn't to blame in any way for the accident. However, she was not wearing a safety helmet and that in my view contributed to her death."

No. I'm sorry. Whether this lady was wearing or not wearing a completely ineffectual (for anything above a 12mph impact) piece of polystyrene, it did not contribute to her death. The evidence, and here I am talking about scientific evidence, in no way suggests that wearing or not wearing a helmet will make any difference to your likelihood to die if you are hit by a car. In fact, there are realistic situations where wearing one could indeed contribute to your risk of dying.

It is very obvious that the judge took absolutely no account of the fact that the cyclist is the vulnerable person here. The driver, by the very fact that he is driving a potentially dangerous weapon has a duty of care for more vulnerable road users. Instead the judge has  sent a very strong message out to cyclists and potential cyclists.

Don't expect the law to provide you with any protection. Your only protection is a couple of centimetres of polystyrene. 

So to any of my readers who dislike cyclists; if you want to kill a cyclist and you want to get away with the lightest punishment possible, and you want to cause further pain to the cyclists relatives by burdening them with the thought that their loved one was, in some way, also to blame, even when they weren't......

Aim for cyclists without helmets on.

To the vast majority of my readers who want roads that are safe for all, a law system that actually protects vulnerable road users, and who want to send a message to judges such as the one in this case that we will not stand for outcomes like this, join us on the 19th May at 3pm at the Meadows for Pedal on Parliament (POP) 2. POP whilst fighting for money for cycle infrastructure spending also calls for Sensible road traffic law and enforcement in our manifesto.

Together we can make tragedies like this and miscarriages of justice like this a thing of the past.