The location for the gathering, the Scottish Parliament, was chosen to send a clear message to our politicians the people who actually have it within their power to do something. They have the power to,
Stop the Cyclist Killing.
We've now had two Pedal on Parliaments. We've had public and private discussions with politicians. We've had public debate in the media. We've and many others have provided arguments backed up with irrefutable evidence. We've had politicians visiting countries that have 60% city centre modal shares of cycling. We've heard many stories from countries around the world who are starting to realise that cities designed for people are not cities designed solely for cars. We've heard how these cities, for relatively modest amounts of expenditure, are investing in healthier futures and making cycling safer.
So what have we had from the Scottish Government?
We've heard the same old announcement about the same old spending (if hear them mention that £58m which is spread out over several years, doesn't all go on active travel and what is spent on cycling is spent on fluff). We've have the CAPS 2013 action plan that contains no plan for action and no additional funding. We've been told its not up to the government to make the roads safer, its up to the councils. We've been told that the Scottish government thinks the answer to making our roads safer is to ask everyone to be 'a bit nicer, please'.
We've been told that our roads are getting safer.
And yet today, as the cyclists dispersed from today's memorial, we hear the very sad news that yet another Scottish cyclist has tragically lost their life.
Yes that's right Mr Keith Brown. Well done. Well done indeed. Our roads are getting safer for you. The roads are getting safer for anyone who is surrounded by roll cages, air-bags, EPS, ABS etc. It isn't getting safer for the rest of us.
One statistic speaks volumes.
4 cyclists killed in 2009.
7 cyclists killed in 2010.
7 cyclists killed in 2011.
9 cyclists killed in 2012.
9 cyclists killed in 2013.
We still have another 5 months of 2013 left.
Yes there might be more cyclists on the road, but that is the point! The government is acting in a totally irresponsible manner by trying to encourage more people to cycle and not making sure the environment is safe to do so. Should we be surprised that more cyclists are now being killed?
Of course, statistics are one thing, but we have to remember that each death is a personal tragedy. Look at the following photo.
|Courtesy of City Cycling Edinburgh|
So what? Its just the ghost bike and memorial surrounded by a bunch of cyclists.
Not quite. Look closer. Look closely at the memorial and look closely at the second last line after 2013. That line is very significant to the two gentlemen standing holding the ghost bike. That line represents their father. It represents 79 year old Douglas Brown who was killed in a collision with a lorry last week whilst riding his bike. It represents their own tragic, and totally unnecessary loss. The next line represents Connor Shields, a 14 year old boy who was also knocked off his bike last week, this time by a car. Any age is too young, but 14? Unfortunately today a further line has been added. It represents the death of an, as yet, unnamed woman who was today killed near Drumnadrochit.
I really do dread to think how many more lines will need to be added to that board until the government actually gives a toss.
So Keith and colleagues, don't you dare release another statement telling us how great you are, and how you are working towards making cycling safer. You are not. As things stand, it would appear that all you and your government colleagues care about is your political posturing and your beloved independence debate. People are dying now, and will continue to die until you stop spending money on trophy projects like the upgrade of the A9, where speed cameras would do the same job for significantly cheaper.
Stop the politicking and start acting.
Do we really have to wait until it is one of your loved ones who adds a line to that board?