No, this isn't 'War on Britain's Road'. There is no war, as I have discussed on a number of occasions in the past. Yes, there is anger, but the anger is driven by ignorance and most often impatience. Nearly all of the incidents I have encountered from the very first day I sat astride my commuting bike back in 2005 have either been a result of ignorance, impatience or both.
How can you explain to a driver that you need more room, when they haven't felt what it is like to be passed at 30cm by a 40mph car?
How can you explain to a driver that you very rarely are the cause of them being late, and that instead it is the 300 other cars in front of them that are holding them up?
You rarely can, and I know this because I've tried.
I myself was probably ignorant and impatient around cyclists before I became a cyclist myself. I must admit I can't really remember if I drove well or not around cyclists. I suspect I probably didn't. It was only through experiencing first hand of what it is like to be surrounded by 1 tonne steel boxes, that you realise how much care you as a driver must take around them.
So we need more people cycling.
Yes, we do. But the huge battle isn't to convince people to cycle. People do want to cycle, they just don't feel it is safe. I'm sure I'm not the only person who gets a 'ooooh, you wouldn't catch me cycling on the roads....too dangerous...' type of reaction from people when I mention I cycle to work. I've even had several police officers react precisely that way.
So our biggest battle is to make the roads safe?
Making our roads safe is actually pretty straight forward. We don't have to invent anything new, we just have to take advice from cities and countries that have already being making their roads safe. It really isn't rocket science. Of course, making these changes takes money and political will.
Ah, so the biggest battle is convincing the politicians?
Nearly, but not quite.
Once again, there is a simple process to follow. We lobby our politicians, we write to them, we hold demonstrations, we fill in petitions, and we generally make a bit of a nuisance of ourselves. Politicians, despite what you might think, do actually listen to voters. Yes, they have their own agendas, but they also value their jobs. They understand that enough people don't like what they are doing then they are out of a job at the next election. Despite what some people might think, this process does actually work.
Ok! OK!! So what is the greatest battle?
It's the battle for you.
More accurately, it is the battle to convince you, that YOU can make a difference, and that coming along to something like POP is worthwhile.
Over the last few years I've been fortunate to meet many people though campaigning and one thing is obvious among cycle campaigners, we are a very optimistic bunch. We all BELIEVE that we can make a difference. I am absolutely convinced we will eventually make Scotland a cycle friendly nation. Understandably, not everyone is as optimistic as cycle campaigner (could that become a new simile?!).
I've also met people who are quite the opposite and I've been told by some that I really shouldn't bother as nothing will ever change.
This is the battle ground.
Have you read my blogs, or have you looked at the POP website and have you thought...
What's the point in going? Nothing ever changes.
The government never listen.
There's just too much to do, we'll never get there!
If this is what you are thinking about Pedal on Parliament on the 26th April, please, PLEASE, think again. Imagine if you did come. Now imagine if all the other people who thought the same way as you came. Now imagine you added all of those people on to all of the people who were going to go anyway.......
Suddenly 4000, becomes 5000, becomes, 6000.........
POP does make a differenc, but it can ONLY make a difference if you come to support us. Every single person, on a bike or on foot makes a difference.
So I beg you....and yes I've just got down on my knees as I type this.....please make every effort you can to come along to POP.
I know it's not easy to get a bike through to Edinburgh, so instead just come on foot.
I know you could do with getting your hair cut that weekend, but be crazy and let it grow a little more.
I know you really should visit your family, but tell them you'll pop over next week and tell them that you are delaying because you are trying to make Scotland a better place for them.
I know there are probably 100 and 1 different things that you could be doing that Saturday, but this particular one could be the one that really makes a difference.
With you with us in the 26th April, we could start the journey to a safer, fitter, healthier, less polluted, and wealthier Scotland.
|Richard Cross http://www.richardx.co.uk/|