Monday 28 April 2014

Furious Enough to POP

I am furious.

Absolutely furious.

What?!? Yesterday was Pedal on Parliament! It was a great success with thousands of cyclists of every shape and size coming along showing support for safer cycling. It was a culmination of the tireless work of many, and it succeeded in demonstrating to a record number of attendiing MSPs, MPs and councillors that cycling safety is a serious issue.

Yes, I am furious.

But your son and other children did an absolutely fabulous job of giving speeches in front of thousands of people. How could you not be the proudest dad on the planet?

I am. Daniel (my son), Kyle and Katherine did an absolutely fabulous job of making their views known in front of a large crowd, but I am still furious.

But Keith Brown actually came along to the protest, and the day before he came he publicised some new money for cycling. An extra £4.5m to be exact. Ok, it's being spent on education, but at least it shows that the government is listening and it is the first time (apparently) that they have got money like this from different depertmants.



NO. The above statement is apparently not true. Yes, Keith came along. Tick. Yes, Keith has found extra money from across departments. Tick. Yes Keith has found an extra £4.5m...........and that is where things fall appart.

Keith has not found £4.5m extra to spend.

This thread is worth a look. I know the main people in this discussion and I can vouch for the fact that they know what they are talking about. These are not internet trolls.

In the discussion, you will notice (and it might move on a bit so apologies if this ever goes out of date...), that it becomes very, very clear the £4.5m actually consists almost entirely of money that was going to be spent anyway. It is the standard funding of Cycling Scotland. About £2m a year. So the reality is, and I am coming to realise that there are different levels of reality in government, that the real announcement was not for £4.5m, but for at best about £600k.

£600,000. That's it. 

As a percentage of the transport budget this would be approximately 0.03% of the transport budget. It isn't of course 0.03% of the transport budget. It isn't actuallyfrom the transport budget. So not one penny extra is being spent from the transport budget and about £3.9m of that announcement was going to be spent anyway.

My son was talking before Keith. Two other children were talking before Keith. Lynne McNicoll, who lost her son back on 2012 was talking after Keith. Whilst it would be wrong of me to suggest that Keith lied to them, he didn't, it's called spin, he completely misled them. He stood up and told them that he did care and led them to think that £4.5m demonstrated how he cared.

What should have happened is that Keith should have been honest. He could have told us that money was tight, and that he was hoping things would improve in the future. He could have said that despite this, he had found some money, a small amount of money, yes, but a start. Had he done this, I would have respected him for it. Instead he played politics and misled us all.

If I misled a patient at my work in a similar manner I would rightly loose my job.

I loved POP 3. I had a fantastic day and I am so, SO grateful for everything that everyone has done to make it such a success. I'm just really really furious that Keith Brown and his government only care, about 0.03%.


  1. I think we were far too nice to Keith. I've been trying to find a good analogy, and I apologise in advance that this is flawed, but it's something like Tony Blair turning up at the Stop The War demo, announcing a few grand towards training the army in how to avoid killing Iraqi civilians (training) and the demonstrators applauding him, with other politicians welcoming his commitment, while ignoring the elephant in the room (the war/trivial spending on cycling infra). Keith and his government are part of the problem. They could be part of the solution, but so far they absolutely aren't.

    Getting money from other departments, while welcomed by some, seems fairly flawed too. It seems to be a way of not seeing cycling as what it is - a mode of transport. It's a way for Keith to spend on cycling without having to make the difficult decisions about curtailing spending on new roads and silly vanity projects. I'd much rather the cost of cycling infra came from reducing road building than reducing the availability of cancer drugs on the NHS (a bit of an extreme, but you get the idea).

    You called for Keith's resignation before over the Nice Way Code. Something he said that he would not apologise for in his speech. I hope this is remembered the next time Keith (or another) comes to speak to us.

  2. The double, treble, quadruple announcing of spending by politicians is something that has been going of for as long as I can remember. It's a shame that the SNP are doing it too, when years ago they were complaining at the then government for double counting.

    The video of the speeches is available:

  3. @russellelly 100% agree the government transport budget is totally out of kilter - around 1.5% of it currently to cycling despite their 2020 'vision' of 10% of trips by bike! Meanwhile £3000m to dual the A96, £3000m to dual the A9, etc, etc, etc and yet they don't mention a 'vision' to raise car use!! Campaigning did result in a significant increase in last year's budget (from 1% to 1.5%) but much more is needed.
    Hopefully this year's hugely impressive PoP will help boost that case when the next budget is drawn up this autumn - and, if not, cycling investment will actually fall back, as explained in the above link.
    Having said all that, I have no objection to additional money from other budgets, such as the current allocations from Climate Change and from Education. These are usually fairly small sums for specific non-infra projects, and they are pretty irrelevant in terms of what is needed for infrastructure. However there have been some fantastic community-run projects funded from such cash (e.g. Bike Station projects or the Spokes tenements project*). So we should be arguing that non-transport cash is used wisely not that it is spurned!

  4. If he had just told us the truth, then I might have been a bit disappointed, but not angry. By deceiving, it just looks like headline grabbing, and that makes me angry.

  5. and the Yes voters think there will be brave new future under this lot

  6. An impression I got on Friday while chatting to a CS staffer was, after I had made a snide comment about actual funding vs. warm words from the Government, that the announcement was actually the closest CS had had to an ongoing financial commitment and he was relatively pleased about it.

    Which suggests that though £2m/y may have been spent on Cycling Scotland it's been a rather hand to mouth existence, and this is perhaps an improvement.

    Caveats: a) this is an impression from an aside in a conversation about something else, it is not remotely copper-bottomed in any way, shape, or form;
    b) it changes the basic thrust of the above from "Very High" on a scale of shite-ness to "Very High, minus a tiny wee bitty"

  7. Aye, I feel misled too - the original announcement was derisory enough, but it still blunted our ability to attack him, and featured in a lot of the responses to the event (including my own). Like Russell, I was surprised at how politely he was received - I booed when he appeared (and when he mentioned the blessed Nice Way Code) but there was very little dissent from the crowd otherwise.

    It might seem quite an obvious to say but perhaps a lesson to be learned here is that we have to be smarter and more cynical when it comes to these sorts of announcements. Politicians like Keith Brown are professional career politicians - spin is their bread and butter. He exploited people's natural sense of fair play and assuming good faith on those we deal with.

    Cycle campaigners need to adjust tactics accordingly.

  8. It's not just me who distrusts Transport Scotland then!
    It would have been good to hear from Mr Brown the reason for the U turn on the Transport Scotland promise to improve cycling and walking facilities at the Kessock Bridge.
    Prior to commencement of resurfacing works on the bridge Transport Scotland issued a Press Release in January 2013 stating.....
    "Cyclists will also benefit in the wake of the bridge repairs, with cycle paths being upgraded and maintained from the Tore area, heading over the bridge and all the way to Raigmore."
    Concerned that no start had been made on the promised upgrade works I wrote to Transport Scotland in early 2014 and was informed ........
    " these, and all similar works, will have to be assessed against other competing priorities. The safety performance of this section of the A9 will, .... continue to be monitored by Transport Scotland and any required action considered thereafter."
    There has been no apology or reason given for introducing "priority" and "safety" issues at this late stage, the original Press Release was concise and unambiguous.

  9. Matthew Young1 May 2014 at 12:36

    POP2014 was a great to be part of, but after the speeches I was sitting with the friends I'd brought along discussing where it was going. Is it possible that this spun announcement is a symptom of POP needing to move to the next stage as a protest?

    Some of the talk from the politicians made it sound like they expected POP to continue on as it was for years without things seriously changing. There was no serious risk for them turning in turning up and trotting out some trite nonsense about "progress but more to do" because no one was going to publicly hold their feet to the fire. Given the eloquence and passion expressed by some of the bloggers involved in the organisation it would be great for one of you take one of the speeches next year.

  10. Well, strictly speaking Dave B did have the final word :-) What might have worked would be a Q&A with the speaker, but I'm not sure how well that would work in the context of a speech in the middle of a bit of park, rather than in a conference hall. Mind you, there was ample time and opportunity to lobby polticians before the speeches began... unless you were from Glasgow, in which case it was Patrick Harvey or nobody...