Friday, 25 April 2014

We Don't Need No Education

Yesterday I posted about a proposal from the Scottish Government for a new roundabout near Aberdeen. I suggested that this gave us a peek into the thinking oft he government, and how cycling was still an afterthought....

Fast forward to today and we have an announcement from the governments Transport Minister, Keith Brown that they have found a further £4.5m to spend on cycling.

You were wrong, Brennan. See, the government does care. Cycling isn't an after thought, after all...

Well......that's sort of true. Yes, the fact that the government has found this money and has announced it the day before POP does show that cycling matters. It shows that we and more importantly YOU are getting heard. All the more reason to come to POP. knew that was coming didn't need to look at the detail.

Here is the press release

Firstly the £4.5m isn't for this year only. It is spread over two years. So that is £2.25m this year and the same next. Announcing it as £4.5m makes it a better headline figure though. Remember we are asking for £100m per year, so this really is a drop in the ocean.

Secondly the money is going to Cycling Scotland to administer two different education programmes. One is Bikeability.  What is Bikeability? Effectively, it is teaching kids to become vehicular cyclists. It teaches kids how to ride on the roads, just as they are right now. The second is a Cycle Friendly Campus....

A what? Is that building infrastructure at one of the universities?

No. It's more education. This time aimed at slightly older kids and at young adults. Once again, teaching them to become vehicular cyclists.

At this point it is worth reading what I wrote recently on the POP website. It explains why I helped set up POP. It tells how I was a vehicular cyclist, I had kids and then realised that the last thing I wanted, was for them to ever have to become vehicular cyclists.

They should not have to learn the skills I have had to develop to keep me safe, cycling should BE safe!

The government has once again completely missed the point. We don't need our children educated. I am more than capable of teaching my kids to ride a bike safely, I am also incredibly keen to get them out on their bikes, and yet even I am reluctant to take them on the roads.


Well, look at this blog here. Of course, not every ride is like that, but it would only take one bad driver and my kids could be scared off cycling for life.

We don't need to teach kids how to deal with the traffic, we need to deal with the traffic!

The Transport Minister is going to attend tomorrow's event. For that we I am very grateful. This is a sign that the government is taking cycling a bit more seriously. However, this also gives us an opportunity to demonstrate to Keith how strongly we feel about the need for infrastructure, not education (of course we need education, but not as urgently as we need infrastructure!). We should be grateful and polite, but we also need to be firm. Small gestures do not help.

We need a fully planned and fully funded roadmap towards a safer cycling Scotland. That is exactly what POP are calling for.


  1. One thing - Point 7 on the PoP Manifesto is as follows:

    "A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training"

    You could argue that they are attempting to deliver this... does having this as a key PoP demand undermine the case for better infrastructure? (p.s. appreciate that there are 6 other points ahead of it)

  2. Not only are there 6 other points before it, but it is road user training, not just cyclist training. We have said many times, that education has to come hand in hand with infrastructure, otherwise the training will have little or no effect.

    1. Aye, that's better, although you could argue that the provision of proper infrastructure obviates the need for extensive training... but hey!

      I think this "announcement" and its timing are particularly cynical - it's the slovenly, drunken husband rocking up to the front door at 11:59pm on his Anniversary holding the last shop-soiled bunch of petrol station-bought flowers. I hope that if/when he tries to re-announce this tomorrow he gets slow hand-clapped.

      p.s. see you all tomorrow! Bike is crocked unfortunately so will be "hoofing it to Holyrood" instead :-)

  3. "you could argue that the provision of proper infrastructure obviates the need for extensive training"... well, you could, but there again the Dutch build it in to the school curriculum (and the education budget pays for it, I understand) so maybe you'd lose the argument! Dutch cycle training is rather different from Bikeability, of course, because it's training for a different cycling environment.

    I'm a Bikeability instructor (and Workplace Cycle Trainer, and Bikeability Training Assistant instructor too), so what do I think of it? I say let's have a cheer (maybe as many as two) for Bikeability, but don't make any cheering you do too rousing in case you wake anyone up who's having a nap... Vehicular cycle training inna Cycling Scotland stylee is a good thing in the context of getting something out of a budget of roughly bugger-all rolled out across the country. What it does is give a genuinely useful leg-up to the next generation of Cyclists (note the capitalisation there, indicating enthusiast members of an out-group), and that's much better than making all the potentially fatal mistakes yourself and learning that way. What it's never going to do is convince your typical punter that cycling is a safe and normal thing that's obviously the best way to get around for relatively short trips, so it's never going to get you anywhere near the proposed 10% modal share we're allegedly working towards.

    In other words, it's slightly better than lip service, but in promoting it as a major initiative lip-service is all you're really getting.

    And that's why I, and my 10 year old competent vehicular cyclist daughter will be at POP tomorrow

  4. (strikethrough) Education, Education, Education! (/strikethrough)

    Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure