Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Anger/Action Never Ending Cycle

My previous blog details a letter I sent to my local SNP MSP, Fiona McLeod. Today I received a reply and....well....I was pretty taken aback by it. First I'll let you see the reply and then I'll comment on it. First though, please read my original letter.

Fiona's reply was:

Dear Dr Brennan,
I understand that Police Scotland have recently announced a focus on driver behaviour.
Government funding for cycling continues to increase and I am persuaded by the arguments and evidence for training as a way towards safer cycling. We have a significant example here in my constituency with the work being done by ED's Cycle Coop especially in Bishopbriggs where they have already exceeded the 20% target for cycling to school.
One of the consequences of the NO vote in the referendum is that the Scottish Government will continue to have their budget squeezed.
Yours sincerely
Fiona McLeod MSP
Strathkelvin & Bearsden

Ok. Let's work through it.

Fiona has completely side-stepped my points and questions on justice. I was directly asking for her to contact Kenny MacAskill with regards to the police and PF undercharging dangerous drivers. She makes absolutely no reference to that what so ever, and instead tells about police Scotland focusing on driver behaviour.

Then Fiona goes on to suggest that she has seen evidence that training is the way forward for safer cycling.

What!?!? WHAT?!? Seriously?!?

I will be asking for Fiona to send me this evidence that she is persuaded by. I am genuinely intrigued. I'm also intrigued to find out if she has looked at the huge, overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests that safer cycling can only be brought about by safer infrastructure. I'll also be asking her if she can point to any industrialised country in the world that has brought about mass cycling (greater than 10% of modal share for example) by using the 'training' approach.

Yes, Bishopbriggs has brought about very localised changes in cycling to School in Bishopbriggs. I also know that I very, very rarely see anyone cycling through Bishopbriggs any time I drive through it, except for the odd Lycra clad cyclist heading off on a training ride to the Campsie hills. I also know some of the people involved in ED's Cycle Coop very well, and I know for a fact that they are as frustrated as I am about the lack of investment in infrastructure.

As for the final paragraph, that makes me the angriest of all.

One of the consequences of the NO vote in the referendum is that the Scottish Government will continue to have their budget squeezed.
What utter, utter, UTTER rubbish. Spending in cycling is not falling due to budget squeeze, it is falling due to political decisions by the Scottish government.

The truth is that the Scottish Government has full control over cycling spend (and most of transport) and they choose how to spend their capital.  They are spending huge sums on roads (Transform Scotland estimates they have a £9bn programme of major road projects, including £3bn A96 and £3bn A9, in and to their traditional heartlands).

Trunk road spending also rises in this year's draft budget (from £639m to £695m) whilst government cycling investment, though still confused, looks set to fall (a reasonable estimate being from £39m in 14/15 to £36m in 15/16) and the proportion of that going to infrastructure also looks set to fall as Spokes have detailed this and as I pointed out to Fiona in the  letter I sent her.

Spending on cycling does NOT continue to increase!!!

My previous e-mail to Fiona was written as a result of anger. I took action because of that. Now I am even angrier at being patronised in this letter, full of avoidance, dubious evidence, and the fact that it implies that the Scottish government doesn't have control over cycling spend.

Rather than just staying angry, I will do the right thing and continue to question robustly our politicians, including Fiona. I urge you all to do the same. I will be writing back to Fiona. Please feel free to write to Fiona and your own MSPs asking the same questions I have asked. Feel free to use my original letter as a template.

We need to start making MSPs answer the hard questions. Only then, and after they are challenged on their terrible answers, will they see that they must change their policies towards cycling and active travel and that we won't stand for evasion and half truths (I am being generous here).

It's up to you to help me do it.

1 comment:

  1. She actually says training is *a* way, which it is, but not a way to get very far. But it is cheap, gives photo opportunities at primary schools and allows A Box To Be Ticked. From a political point ov view, what's not to like? ;-/