Tuesday 31 December 2013

Good, Bad, or Ugly? What Was 2013?

Yup, it's that time again, where everyone takes a step back and has a look at what has happened over the last 12 months. Not wanting to disappoint (actually I'm not sure many would be disappointed!) I thought I'd have a wee glance at my own 12 months. OK, I should qualify that....I'll look back at my 12 months as a cyclist. I do have a life outside this as well, don't you know!

It started off really well for me, with a wee trip to Amsterdam (part 1 and part 2). That was a real eye opener. Not because I saw anything that surprised me, but because it really was as good as I had read about. I'm determined to go back at some point in the future. Who knows maybe even in 2014 if I'm lucky.

Of course, not all was good about the follow up from my Amsterdam trip as the BBC studio guest rolled out all of the usual anti-cycling tripe. Mind you, he was willing to meet up afterwards for a chat. Did Alan change his mind? Not really. In fact I heard recently that he was on Radio Scotland recently, rolling out the same old tripe as before. In any crusade there will always be lost causes....

A theme I visited a few times over the year and a theme that I think ran through cycling generally over 2013, was justice. That is, the lack of it. There were plenty of excuses that drivers could use to excuse the killing of cyclists with the sun being a major culprit. The Gary McCourt case certainly brought my anger to boiling point. This led me to ask that we adopt a culture of responsibility, something that is severely lacking in road incident cases. Part of the problem is that as well as believing in Santa, many people appear to believe that accidents are just....accidents. Nothing will change until we accept that driving is not a right, and that the 'there but for the grace of God..' defence is not acceptable.

Then came.....oh dare I say it....I suppose I must.....the Nice Way Code. Uuugh.

I was given a heads up about the launch of this 'safety campaign' and after much internal consideration I decided to pre-empt the launch by posting about it a day early. Why did I do this? I suppose I felt very, very strongly that the campaign (as I knew it then was wrong) and that I had to lay my cards on the table early. I am glad I did as it was in the end worse than I thought it would be. In fact it was bad enough that I ended up calling for Keith Brown to step down. I stand by what I wrote there. Whilst there has been a small amount of progress the 'political culture' hasn't changed. The motor car is still the priority. I don't think this will change until there has been a change of guard. I challenge Keith to prove me wrong.

Another issue that dominated my cycling thoughts was the issue of collective guilt. That is, the fact that me, as a cyclist always appear to be guilty of the sins of others. Even famous cyclists think cyclists are their own worst enemy. So I tried my best to explain the reality as simply as possible, that we are all individuals and that just because cyclist A does X does not mean that cyclist B is also guilty of X. Unfortunately it didn't filter through. So I had to simplify it even more for one particularly advanced road user

I'll be honest and say that 2013 wasn't the breakthrough year for cycling that I had hoped it would be. However, it wasn't all angry. Sometimes the drivers weren't actually trying to kill me, despite appearances. Occasionally the police and the Procurator Fiscal did their jobs properly. Pedal on Parliament 2 itself was an amazing success with over 5000 cyclists asking for better conditions. I also had great fun trying out the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and hope to do more there in 2014. I even got to star (for a few seconds) on BBC Breakfast, although there was some buffoonery involvedMy YouTube videos have had more likes (3291) than dislikes (1639) which suggests I must be doing something right!

Throughout the year I've met some fantastic people who have inspired and continue to inspire me. I've had some incredible experiences and I've been on a terrific journey (not just to and from work!). Despite all the setbacks and obstacles, I am still 100% certain that Scotland and the rest of the UK is set on a path of safer roads for everyone. Is it happening at the rate I wanted it to happen? No. But will it happen? Yes. We all just need to keep up the pressure and continue to increase the volume.

Let's make 2014 the first year that Scotland becomes a cycle friendly nation.

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