This is why we need Pedal on Parliament.
This particular picture has been doing the rounds on Twitter recently......
@sallyhinch @POPScotland @ScotlandPhotos I think this photo sums up the reason why #PoP2014 is necessary: pic.twitter.com/HnLVNY5Jti
— Andy Preece (@andy_fab) February 22, 2014
Apologies, if the picture doesn't quite fit on my blog theme. I've made it quite big intentionally because the story is in the detail, but I'll try and summarise it for you.
Here we have a road in Edinburgh. It's a road that, I suspect, Edinburgh city council would tell us has cycle friendly infrastructure on it. Well, I suppose it does to some extent.
- It has a sign in the distance with a bike symbol on it telling us that cyclists are welcome and expected here.
- It has some bike symbols painted quite clearly on the road.
- It has some road surface with a slightly different colour suggesting that this bit of the road has a different use, i.e. for cyclists specifically to use.
- It has some dashed lines that again tell us that this bit of road serves a particular purpose, i.e. a place for cyclists to be.
- The blue sign means diddly squat.
- The bike symbols mean diddly squat.
- The road colouring means diddly squat.
- The dashed lines means diddly squat.
For a start, the bike lane is not mandatory, that is, it is not protected from the intrusion of cars. In fact parking is actively encouraged by the fact that this cycle lane also acts as a Taxi rank, and it allows parking and loading at certain times (see here). So this is a cycle lane for cyclists....except when cars or taxis are parked in it, which is probably most of the time, I suspect.
Fantastic. Well done Edinburgh.
You can bet though that when councillors give talks on the progress that Edinburgh is making towards cycle friendliness, that this lane is included in the calculations for the 'number of Kilometres of quality cycle infrastructure in Edinburgh' statistics. To be fair to Edinburgh though, it's probably the best city for cycling in Scotland.
It's far worse everywhere else.
However, it's time I stopped talking about the infrastructure and actually started talking about what this picture tells us.
What? You're not talking about the infrastructure? No I'm not. I'm talking about people.
Look closer into the picture and you see some cyclists, the closest of which is a mother and a daughter. Look at at what is actually happening to them. They were cycling along the 'protected' cycle path which ends under the car ahead. They had a choice at that point, give up and get off their bikes and walk along the pavement, or pull out (with care of course), into the traffic. The mother has decided to pull out, with the little girl to her left.
What!?!? What is that mother thinking?! Will someone please think of the poor child!?!? Not only that, but the child is not even able to go a bike properly yet. She is on a balance bike and could at any minute fall over! Call in social services!!!
Wait a minute! How did I know that the child was on a balance bike? How did I know that that bike was in fact an Islabike balance bike? And how did I know that the mother (and yes I know that is the mother) is riding a Ridgeback Cyclone known by its owner as, 'The Tank'?
That's because the little girl is my youngest daughter and the mother is my wife. Yes, if you look beyond the parked car you can see me cycling (in my kilt) with my two sons by my side.
This particular picture was taken by Andy as my family and I cycled to a nearby pub/cafe for the POP2 debrief. We had the kids on their bikes, so we tried to cycle. Carefully of course. However, just after that photo, we gave up. It just wasn't worth the stress and the hassle and we got the kids on the pavement.
It was a complete cycle infrastructure fail.
At POP we often talk about making cycling safe for 8-80. In fact that is just a set of convenient numbers. There is no reason why we couldn't make infrastructure safe from 3 to 103, so that my daughter (who is now 4 and would like you all to know that she uses a pedal bike now, thank you very much) could ride without fear.
Cycle infrastructure for a 3 year old?!
Yes. I've seen it, and I have ridden on it, in Amsterdam. I'd happily take my daughter cycling through the heart of Amsterdam, I can't say the same for any other city in the UK.
So, if you are happy that our cities are the domain of only those with cars or those with the gumption to mix with the cars, then go with the status quo. If however, you think that our cities should be for everyone, even 3 year olds, then help us call on our government to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.
You don't even need a bike.