Friday, 9 December 2016

Accusing the Victim

A lot has happened to me recently. You'll know from previous stories and blogs that I've had tacks placed at the end of my path. I've had stones thrown at my house and car. Recently a letter was sent to my neighbours suggesting that if I don't stop reporting drivers to the police that thugs would vandalise the area and perhaps poison local animals

You can read it in this tweet.
So, please excuse me a little, that when I get an egg thrown at me a few days ago and I post about it on Facebook, that I get a little angry with one particular woman who, rather than demonstrate any anger at the incident itself or concern from me, gets angry at me for thinking the egg was thrown from a particular unidentified car.

Here is the text of this particular conversation, just in case it should disappear.....

Laura D:
Watched the video and i have no idea why you think is acceptable to blame one particular car without knowing for sure. I would be absolutely raging if I had innocently driven passed you as this incident happened to later find a photo of my car on the Internet and the finger being pointed to me.
Whatever happen to innocent until proven guilty?
"this is the vehicle the egg was thrown from"
Where is the proof?
Shocking accusation from a so called health professional
My reply:

Have you read what I've written above? The bit where I say I have no proof. The bit where I say keep an eye out? Exactly where have I shared anything apart from a make of vehicle? Is that identifying in any way? Which other vehicle exactly could this have come from? Possible from the houses? Perhaps, but incredibly unlikely due to speed and angle that it hit me, and lack of any images of anything untoward on the video. Most importantly where have I accused any person of being guilty? 

Oh and thanks for your concern. I'm fine thanks
Laura D:
Don't be flippant with me, this post isn't about how you are, it's a post trying to identify a car, on a road where there are many cars and also houses, like you've said. 
Yes I've read your comments, but those were made after you had originally posted this and advert others had put their valid points over. 
You are not always in the right,although it appears that you think you are. 
Other people are allowed their opinions, that's what happens when you create blogs,or Facebook accounts, we are allowed to say what we think, just like you are. 
And that's what I'm doing here. 
Have you ever thought of a career change, clearly you think you should be part of police Scotland. 
I have never had any issues with cyclists on the road, being a horse rider and being on the roads myself i know exactly what is like. 
But your tone, your attitude and your false accusations are giving other cyclists a bad name. 
I just pray.i never pass you and accidently sneeze, or look at you the wrong way or ill end up players ask over the Internet. 
Your very bizzare

My reply:

Hi Laura, I am writing this from my own account, just to be sure there isn't any misunderstanding about who is writing it. 
I can assure you, in my reply I was not being flippant. In fact I was being quite serious. I was pointing you in the direction of the comments above, where one poster had commented on my claim, and I agreed that perhaps it had been strongly worded, and thus I corrected it. The tweet itself, in which I did state that it was 'definitely from the car', was an initial reaction to viewing the video. You'll notice that posters above comment that they can't see the link. The reason they and you can't link to it is because I deleted it.
Now, remember I posted this that evening having got in, and having had an egg thrown at me (quite hard I might add, it stung quite a bit). So that was my initial response. I corrected it without any issue. 
Remember also I have recently had a letter sent to my neighbours which has been threatening, that I have had bricks thrown at my house and car, and tacks left at the end of my path. All things considered, I think I was rather restrained. Despite all of this you come onto the thread and without any comment about the incident itself, or about how wrong it is, started accusing me of being unprofessional. 
In fact it is of particular interest that you mention my profession. In fact you edited your post to make sure you mentioned that I am a 'health professional'. You are quite correct I am (although only part time these days as I am also part of an exciting new spin out company developing a diagnostic and therapeutic in stroke, but you won't be interested in that....). Anyway...what does my job have to do with any of this? What does my career in Medical Physics have to do with me tweeting about being hit by an egg whilst cycling? My impression from this, and this may not be your intent at all, is that you are suggesting I am not fit to do my job, and that perhaps someone should put a complaint in. That's how that comes across. If that is indeed your intent, please feel free to. You wouldn't be the first. 
Am I always right? Well, of course not. However, I reacted to your posting on here, the way I did, for the reasons above. 
I am glad you have not had any issues with cyclists on the road. Neither have I. I have though, as a cyclist had many issues with drivers. I am not alone. If you don't believe me have a look at the Near Miss Project ( It's an enlightening read. Also as the father of a daughter who rides horses (and who's wife used to) I too understand the needs of riders. I also know that sometimes riders are treated very badly on the road (
Then you mention the most bizarre thing...false accusations. Who am I falsely accusing and of what? I have accused no-one of anything, I have even at the very earliest point, only suggested that the egg appeared to come from the vehicle. I have no idea who owns this vehicle, or even exactly which type of vehicle it is (although I think it might be a Mitsubishi L200). By posting this I am warning others to keep an eye out for such vehicles and to be careful around them, as it would appear they have a grudge against cyclists. Is that so bizarre?!
As for praying you don't sneeze when you pass? If I am honest that is just condescending. Do you ride a bike on the roads? Have you experienced being knocked of your bike, or having a vehicle driven at you? Have you experienced the abuse and intimidation? I have, and I can assure you it is not nice. I also know families of cyclists who have been killed. I was honoured to have been given a fallen cyclist's bike by one family as a thank you for the campaigning that I do. So, pardon me, if I get a little angry when I see people getting 'flippant' about the incidents that many cyclists face on the road.
Finally, do I understand how blogs and Facebook works? Well, it turns out I do. Public posts are, public, and thus free to be commented on and..... shared. Just to prove the case, have a wee look here (Link back to this blog). I think I managed to post the blog right..... 

Friday, 28 October 2016

The Mind of an Anti Bearsway Councillor

As you'll have seen in one of my previous blogs, I wrote a letter to my local SNP councillor Anne McNair, who voted against the Bears Way extension. Unfortunately, despite me chasing via e-mail and on Twitter (local SNP group Twitter). I never did receive a reply. So yesterday, seeing that Anne had a surgery 10 minutes walk from my house, I went along for a chat.

My 11 year old son came along, mainly as he wanted to hear why the lane wasn't being extended. Here is a summary of what happened. I should add, that twice during the meeting I stressed that if Anne wanted to say anything off record, that I'd be happy to keep those comments confidential. She didn't take me up on that.

First off, let me state quite clearly, Anne was very nice, was very willing to listen and whilst she did dodge a few questions a wee bit, she was generally quite candid. She gave me about 50 minutes of her time. I thank her for that.

I was though, pretty dismayed by the end of the meeting.

First off I explained who I was and the fact that I had tried to contact her on a few occasions without any reply. Anne explained that Cllr Ian MacKay had put together a that was supposed to have been sent to everybody. I certainly hadn't received that, and Anne was surprised. No matter if this was true or not, my letter did not ask generic questions. I wanted to know why Anne had voted against it, not everyone else.

The first interesting fact that I heard, regarded some comments from Jim Gibbons. After the vote he had e-mailed people suggesting that there would be congestion at Boclair (despite modelling suggesting otherwise), if the lane went in. Interestingly the SNP group apparently 'gave him a row' over that e-mail.

The next interesting thing was that she didn't realise that Keith Small was suggesting that segregated cycle lanes in general were not the way forward. Anne seemed to think he was only talking about the A81. From his comments, and a meeting a friend of mine has had with him recently confirms he is opposed to them completely. Anne looked a little uncomfortable at this.

It was then decided to ask a difficult question. Were you pressured to vote as a political group on this?

The answer was very interesting. Anne pointed out that voting in a group was normal practice. Normally the SNP was outnumbered by a coalition of the other groups, which the SNP couldn't stop. Only on planning, were councillors expected to vote individually, apparently. This I found very surprising. Councillors are individuals I thought...

I then pointed out that Cllr Cummings (Ind) just before the vote, stood up and confirmed that this would be a free vote. Everyone murmered in agreement and someone, not sure who, said that this was always the case.

Obviously it wasn't. Anne, did not remember Cllr Cummings comment.

Anne then pulled out her mobile phone, whilst I was talking. She was showing me a picture of one of the chicanes in the lane at one of the bus stops. At this moment, I knew where she was going.

Design. She didn't like the design. So I went into detail about the fact that I was probably the first and most vociferous opponent of the lane's design in the early days. I pointed out that I had blogged about it, and had meetings about it. However, I also pointed out that having lived with the lane, cycle in the lane, and driven alongside the lane, I had grown to appreciate it. I talked about the children I now see cycling along that road, that I had never seen before. I talked about the families that use it. I talked about the fact that it isn't yet connected and that some big issues would be resolved by extending it....

We got into a discussion about why it had been designed the way it did. I pointed out that the bus stops could have been designed better, but remedial work had been planned (now stopped). I discussed some of the internal battles that went on within the council between departments (I've very good sources for this) and that the design is always going to be limited in scope in the current climate due to limited funding....

But a lot of cyclists don't use it! 

I must admit this surprised me. I'd heard this line being used before, but I didn't expect it from Anne. I pointed out that surveys have shown that 92% of cyclists do use it. Actually, a very large number considering the fact that Anne thinks the design is terrible.

She repeated the cyclists don't use it line, and I repeated the 92%.

We talked about off road, and I pointed out that cyclists are people and want to go where people want to go. That is down the main routes. They are main routes for a reason! I also asked how people would get to the off road routes.. Anne didn't answer.

At this point someone popped their head in to the room and Anne had to pop out for 5 minutes, At that point I looked at my phone. That is when I saw the following Facebook reply to a news item about our advocacy ride.

When Anne came back in I showed her this, and I mentioned that these are the sort of images that the SNP are unintentionally aligning to.

She looked uncomfortable.

We discussed share use, and I pointed out that shared use wouldn't work, as I and many other cyclists just wouldn't use it. Anne suggested that roads like the A81 weren't the best place to start, and I suggested that main arterial routes were exactly the best place to start....etc. But it was at the end when I asked again...

Why did you personally vote against the scheme?... This was Anne's answer..

They messed up phase 1, which was the easy bit, and you've got cyclists using the main carriageway. That tells me there is a design fault. Phase 2 has harder junctions and I'm not convinced by what I've seen in phase 1 that phase 2 will be designed right.

I then asked the following...

Why then did you vote against it now, when we have only seen preliminary designs? If you are concerned about the design of phase 2, why not let it go to the detailed design stage where you can actually see the design, and vote on that!?

I actually asked Anne this question in two slightly different ways, and both times, she screwed her face up a bit, and shrugged. She didn't have an answer.

After the second occasion I added...

Can you see why we are frustrated....?

Yes, David.

I then finished off by saying that I feel the decision was ridiculous, especially considering the benefits that cycling would have on pollution, congestion, health, etc. I also pointed out that the decision had ramifications far beyond East Dunbartonshire and that many from outside the area were watching closely.

We stood up, shook hands and I took a slightly bored and tired 11 year old home, unfortunately not really having moved forward very much. I had to do it, I had to understand why a councillor who was actually pro-cycling in the past, had voted against Bears Way.

We are now left with a path that starts and goes no-where, a section of a community that is angry enough to suggest placing tacks on a path where families are going to cycle, and a number of councillors who I believe, and this is my personal opinion, voted for the benefit of themselves rather than the area and people they represent.

I'm not sure my son will value the word of politicians from now on. I think he is right.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Predictions and Action

Tonight I was going through old draft posts. Anyone who writes an active blog will likely be in the same position as me. You have blogs you publish, you have blogs that you start and then delete, and you have blogs that you start, get a fair way though and....well, you move on and it sits there as a draft, usually never seeing the light of day. However, tonight I came across this blog.....

It was me being a bit daft. I was imagining a crazy situation where councils were ripping out cycle lanes and people were calling for roads to be widened. I actually wrote this about a year ago. A sort of Armageddon thought experiment.

Oh dear.

Yes, it would appear that my thought experiment is coming to pass. Cycle lanes are being ripped out and as you will know if you follow this blog, Bears Way is not being extended and who knows, might be ripped out too, as the local SNP don't think segregation is the way forward. 

Let's just give up then? Not a chance! Oh no. If we give up now, that's the end. But if we fight, and we fight hard, and we continue to challenge the misinformation and , let's face it, downright lies, then we will win in the end. Not sure?! Well, all you need to do is sign a wee petition. It only takes a minute (unless you want to add a comment, which is always welcome!). Despite what some of the locals tell you, you don't have to be local to have a say. What happens with Bears Way will have an effect on future schemes all around the country.

******-------So please, PLEASE... sign this petition here -------******

Anyway, here is the blog that was a draft. It looks like it is coming to pass, but only if you let it....

You know what? Let's forget it.

It's too much hassle, people just don't get it. The car is, and always remain king.

Let's just leave it there.

No. In fact that isn't enough. Let's get the cycle lanes that have been built and rip them out. Let's return the roads to their former glory. Nice and wide, nice and fast and free of cyclists and pedestrians.

We all need to get to where we are going fast. We need to get to work, we need to get to the gym (to ride a stationary bike), we need to visit friends, we need to pop a couple of hundred metres down the road to the local shop to get some milk. We need to take the kids to their sports clubs...we need to take the kids to school.

That all has to happen fast. Time is precious, time is short. It does not matter that when we get to where we are going that parking spaces are short, we will just ask the council for more. Congestion is a problem, though it isn't because there are too many cars on the road. Oh no, there just aren't enough roads and the roads that we have don't have enough lanes.

Build more roads, and widen the ones we have!

Sure, we'd loose a bit more green space, but that doesn't really matter, as we can all drive out to the countryside. Sure the countryside has a shortage of parking spaces, but once again our councils can sort that. Oh, and the roads might need widened to get there fast...

All this talk of obesity? Not a problem. With more people driving and more parking spaces outside gyms, we can get to the gym quicker and more often. None of those pesky cyclists holding us up! Parking will be free of course. Driving costs far too much already don't you know!

In fact, we need to make sure the price of motoring goes down. We need more oil. Yes! Fracking is the answer. Oh, yes the majority of UK fracking will only produce gas and not usable oil, but fear not, other countries can increase their fracking too! There is plenty of oil in he ground, we just need to innovate and we can draw out more and more.

Run out?! Ha! Not in our lifetime. That's someone else's problem....and as for climate change, well, we could do with it being a bit warmer in Scotland.

Pollution? Na. Cars are getting cleaner and cleaner all the time. Car manufacturers are honest decent folk who want a cleaner environment too! Anyway, electric cars are coming and there is absolutely no pollution from electric cars whatsoever. Yes, at least half a cars lifetime emissions come from the cars manufacture, and yes, electric cars need to get their electricity from somewhere, and that somewhere is often polluting, but hey, it's another chance for innovation!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Bearsway Council Meeting

As you will all be aware now, the Bears Way cycle lane which is a four phase project, is now a one phase project. That is, it will, for the forseable future not be extended. It will remain as it is, a cycle lane that starts pretty much no-where, and ends pretty much no-where.

I could accept the fact that it was incomplete, because I knew it was the start of something longer and better, but the council (at least one particular section of the council, decided against it). Why? Well, before we get to that I'll describe my experience attending the council meeting.

Apologies, this might be quite long, and as I write it I am likely to become a bit more agitated. There will be grammar and spelling mistakes. But this needs to come out of my head, and off the notes on the paper fresh and unadulterated. This will truly be the Mind of a Helmet Camera Cyclist. However, I think it will be worth the read. I don't plan to hold back. My mind has a habit of speaking its mind...

The meeting was set to start at 6pm. Unfortunately due to childcare commitments, and a wife that likes to see me occasionally I could not go along to the meeting. However, after chatting with a fellow concerned Twitter cyclist, he went along at 6pm and would have to leave early and I'd pop along later. Apparently these meetings could go on beyond 11pm...

So I drive to the council building (sorry!) and park outside. As I get out the car I notice some council employees leaving the building. It looked like they were locking up...

"The meeting started at 6pm...."
Anyway after a few minutes they decided to let me in, and told me where the meeting was. So off I went though the deserted council offices....

I found the door to the meeting and went in. The meeting was in full flow, although my entrance seemed to raise a few eyebrows. Perhaps that had something to do with the Pedal on Parliament t-shirt I was wearing. Who knows. I found my seat and the meeting continued.

I was sat next to about 4 or 5 other members of the public, one of which who appeared to have a booklet with all the meeting reports in it and one that was using a tablet. I got out my phone and started tweeting.

"Sorry, but you have to switch that off...."
Turns out, electronic equipment has to be switched off in the chamber. Thus, no way of sharing with the wider public, what is happening in a public meeting. Very democratic. Anyway, I complied and turned my phone off. At which point I gently pointed out the chap on his tablet.....

"Ah, but he's only using it to read the agenda..."

Hmm. anyway the tablet user decided to put it away at this point anyway.

A short while later after a few agenda points were dealt with the next point on the agenda came up, relating to a crossing point to the new Hub building in Bearsden. This agenda was led by Cllr Cummings (independent). He wanted a new crossing point, pretty much everyone else (a few exceptions) didn't see the need for it.

Cut a long story short, he wanted a crossing that you would have to cross two side roads to use to get anywhere useful, everyone else pointed this out, Cllr Cummings got asked a few questions about it, took offence and got grumpy that everyone was making it personal. They weren't. Cllr Cummings then asked that an amendment be tabled. It was pointed out that it would have made life easier if he had prepared this before the meeting (he hadn't) and it took a while for him to convey the exact wording of the amendment. At this point, someone pointed out that the amendment that he was tabling, had already been covered in the report before the council and thus, this was a whole waste of time, Cllr Cummings got even more cross at alleged personal attacks, and everyone got a bit grumpy.

In the end he agreed that he would table something at a later meeting.

That all took about 45 minutes.

There followed a 10 minute adjournment (I found out that 10 minutes in council chambers actually means 20 minutes). I got chatting to my Twitter friend, who would have to leave soon, and we both agreed that it had been a bit of a farce up until now. Things would improve, surely...

During the break I said hello to a few council members who I happened to know. One councillor who I didn't know came over to talk to me.

"Why don't you cycle on the canal?"
Off to a great start there! I explained my reasons. Turned out that this councillor (who was Cllr Gibbons of SNP) also cycled, had once lived in the area, but was now in Bearsden. He was definitely chatting as if he liked Bears Way and showed me the plans that had been submitted for the Sustrans competition previously (segregated lanes around the Burnbrae Roundabout). I susggested that they were very good, and he appeared to agree....well in hindsight I'm not 100% sure he did...but at the time he was coming across positively.

So I ask him, how does he think it will go...

"Depends. See that chap over there (Cllr MacKay), he's not feeling great. It all depends on if he manages to last to the vote or not. If he manages it will go against Bears Way".
This was interesting. It indicated that the vote was pretty much already known. They knew who would probably vote which way. I (wrongly) assumed that Gibbons would be voting for, and his fellow SNP Cllr was voting against. Was this a party split? If so, fair enough as it should be a free vote (and this was mentioned before the vote by Cllr Cummings where he specifically suggested that it would be. There were a few surprises that he mentioned it...)

Anyway the meeting soon started again.

This section consisted of technical questions related to the report which had been prepared by the council. This report was comprehensive. In fact there were a few comments on quite how comprehensive it was at 232 pages. I did not have a copy of the report at the meeting. although I do now. You can read it for yourself, here. 

The important section stated:

3.1.     It is recommended that the Council:-
a) Notes the report and the review of Phase 1 and approves proposed amendments to
 Phase 1
b) Notes the options available for the continuation of the Bears Way following the
modelling exercise and the feedback from the recent consultation exercise
c) Based on a) and b) above instructs officers to proceed to the detailed design stage of
Phase 2 in accordance with option 4 within this report and to continue with the
principle of the segregated cycle lane, ensuring that as part of this further detailed
stakeholder consultation will be carried out throughout the design, development and
implementation of Phase 2 of the project.

Before it could get further two amendments were placed on record. One by Cllr Small (SNP)

And one was from Cllr Cummings

When they 'shockingly' realise that there were two, the paused the meeting, got together for a couple of minutes and then agreed a new mish mash, wording. It was as follows.

The Council agreed as follows:-
a) To note the report and the review of Phase 1 approve proposed improvements bullet points 1 and 2 as detailed in 5.13, page 206, and instructs Officers to report back to Council on the full implications and costs of bullet points 3 and 4. The Report would include a full and meaningful public consultation with all Community Councils in Bearsden and Milngavie, all Residents? Associations, bus operators, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and disability groups:
b) To note the options available for the continuation of the Bears Way following the modelling exercise and the feedback from the recent consultation exercise;
c) Not to proceed with any of the Phase 2 options;
d) To take note of all elements of public consultation, and all comments received from members of the community;
e) To note the recently organised and submitted petition by Mrs Aileen McIntyre on that contained 2600 signatures, and numerous comments regarding Bears Way; and
f) That any future works associated with Phase 1, or any subsequent works, must include the protection of residential, commercial and commuter parking.
Lots of things were striking about that, but two specifically - cycling groups will not be invited to consult  (see (a)). This was pointed out by the labour councillors, but Keith Small (who led the adjusted amendment declined to add them). Secondly the fact that future works on phase 1 must protect parking.

Cyclists were not mentioned at all.

So Keith Small stood up to support the amendment first.

First thing he said, was...

I am not anti cycling.....but....

He went on to say that all needed to be considered and stressed that cycling was not the ONLY way of promoting health in the community. He said that segregation had produced conflict. He stressed that the road width had been reduced and that phase 2 would reduce road width.

He then quoted a very strange quote that he said he heard from a business person:

Pure cars, pure parking, pure business.
I'm not sure what that was about!

He stressed that car ownership in the area was high and that many families had 2, 3 or more cars. "People work hard to buy a car". The suggestion being that having worked hard for that car, you had more right....

He then suggested that rail passenger numbers had recently increased significantly, and made the comment "practical people get the train". He then stressed that the current percentage of people ccling was small (yes 2% up from 0.8% before Bears Way, an incomplete lane...). He was concerned that parking displaced by the lane (which was apparently going to be very small) would result in people driving further, leading to more car use. Yes, that confused me to.

He then finished off by saying that 18,000 vehicle journeys a day occur along the road, and that they were frustrated by the 8% that are not using the lane.

"People need their car!"

The Cllr Moody (Lib Dem) stood up.

He  admitted  that they had agreed on phase 1 consultation, and was glad he did. He then waffled off a bit (I think I drifted off...) . He mentioned site visits to Asda and Boclair, and that some road engineers he spoke to said that the junctions were at capacity and any changes would make things worse (Hmmm). He stated quite clearly:

"No one had ever e-mailed him asking for segregated cycle lanes".
There is some dispute about at what stage in the process the first person did, as we know people did!

He then told us how he used to cycle, but recently has only cycled 10 times. He prefers cycling on wide roads. he also pointed out that we couldn't control cyclists. We couldn't force them to use the cycle path. He then pointed out that just because there is 'free money available' doesn't mean we need to accept it. Yes, he is saying he doesn't want the money.

"We've dug a hole, we should stop digging"
Cllr Moir  (Lab) stood up.

He supports the report, and points out that those now against the scheme were previously in favour. But there had been a big change in April. He wasn't sure why.... The lane was working, and had an added bonus of slowing traffic. Accident rates pre and post lane were exactly the same. Significant health benefits. He then quotes Derek Mackay and Humza Yousaf who were supportive of the scheme.

Anothe labour councillor stood up (didn't catch his name)
He was amazed at the political turnaround. He hoped those that vote against will be ready for the response after.

Cllr Henry (Lab) stood up. By far the best of the night. Well done to the council officers, especially in the face of abuse. The whole tone of the campaign had been horrible. She had spent time in London and though the segregated lanes there were wonderfu;. She was pleased when she heard they would come to East Dunbartonshire. They were giving people a choice, they were for the next generation, visionary, exciting. We needed to be brave and have vision.

Cllr Shergill (Lab) stood up. He pointed out that Derek Mackay said the scheme was exemplar, and it had been endorsed by Humza.

Cllr Cummings (Ind) stood up. He went on for a fair but telling us how long he had been a councillor, "17 years representing communities"...I drifted again.... Then he came back on focus, saying that this was the most controversial scheme he'd every been involved in. People were deeply upset (I still cannot fathom why!!) He then mentioned a blog that someone had written somewhere (I don't think it was me, but ....hello Cllr Cummings if you are reading....). the blog had called him 'anti cyclist'. He claimed he wasn't, as he cycled a bike sometimes in remote places (yes he did actually say that), so not anti and he'd never met anyone who is anti cycling....but.....he didn't actually say this, but it's pretty obvious he hates cycle infrastructure. He's not anti cycling, so long as you cycle far away from anywhere remotely populated....

At this point, everyone in the room was flagging, and no-one else could be bothered to talk, so Cllr Small got back up to sum up.

He didn't hold back and went straight for the juggular using all the misinformation at his disposal....

"Segregated lanes are not a good way to encourage cycling"

Who knew!?

Milngavie Road was apparently, in his words, 'shared space'.

"Motorists and cyclists co-existed happily."

Oh yes indeedy. We have entered cloud cuckoo land. I often had drivers giving me a friendly wave. In fact they would often stop and give me a cuddle. No diver ever shouted abuse at me, swerved at me, claimed I had no right to be on the road....oh no. It was all just a bad dream....

Sorry, I digress...

Segregation my dear friends (and this is pretty much what he said), was heading down the wrong road (ahem). The way to achieve 10% modal share of cycling was to get people cycling between where they live and schools. Where they live and shops.

He stressed it agian, just in case we hadn't beleived him the first two times...

"Segregation will not get to 10%"
Right! Haud the bus! Just stop what you are doing! Yes you, Amsterdam (and many cities and towns near by), Copenhagan, London, Seville, New York, Oslo, Minneapolis (yes really) Bogata, Stockholm, Malmo, Berlin.......etc etc. Yes you lot. You've got it all wrong. Listen to the SNP, Lib Dems and a couple of independent councillors in east Dunbartonshire. They know best! Rip it out. Build more roads. Cyclists and drivers get on just fine. Honest.

Oh and he said the lane was over engineered. It needed to be less intrusive. So I suspect that means, it needs to be out in the sticks (as Cllr Cummings seems to prefer), shared with pedestrians (oh yes that works) or a wee bit of paint on the road. Can't be holding up the car drivers who have been sold a dream of easy driving by the marketing departments of the car companies!

Oh no!!

Cllr Geekie (lab) stood up and surveyed the damage done by arguments you just can't argue against because you couldn't really do it in a council chamber without being really insulting....
She pointed out that you will never please drivers with cycle infrastructure (I don't actually agree with that, as a recent survey suggested that the happiest drivers were in the Netherlands...). She pointed out that improvements had already been made to phase 1, and that not having phase 2 would please no-one. The lane must be extended.

Tada! That my friends was the end of that. A short recess was called (to some mutterings and folk wanted to get home), and councillors checked that there would be no voting against local party policy. They came back....It was all a blur by this point....and the vote proceeded. It went quickly, and I couldn't keep up, but there were many voting for the amendment, including Cllr (I'm a friend of cyclists) Gibbons, and Cllr Anne (I was on the board of the local cycling coop) McNair (who incidentally hasn't replied to my e-mail...).

Long story short (well, it's already long).... 11 for Bearsway, 12 for amendment that effectively killed it.

I wasn't for staying a minute longer. I stood up, and everyone looked around (as there were only two of us in the very close public gallery) and I couldn't help myself. Looking at the SNP group I said...

I noted the slight smirk on Cllr Small's face, and I walked out.

And there you have it. East Dunbartonshire said yes to the driver, and no to anyone wanting to use a bike. There is not allowed to be a vote on this now for another 6 months, by which time we will be in the midst of a council election, which is likely to bring us more SNP councillors.

Don't forget folks the SNP and the Liberal Democrats are progressive parties. Yes they are. Well, they aren't where I live.

Friday, 30 September 2016

My Letter to Anne

I have sent the following letter to my local SNP councillors who voted against phase 2 of the Bears Way cycle lane.

Dear Anne McNair,

As a local constituent, as an organiser of Pedal on Parliament, and as a member of Friends of Bearsway, can I please ask,  what were your personal reasons for voting for the amendment to the Bears Way report at last nights meeting?

Previously you have suggested to me that you support cycling and investment of cycle infrastructure. Thus, I am confused, given the overwhelming evidence for the benefits of cycling, the overwhelming evidence that segregated infrastructure needs to play a large part in a functioning cycle network, and the overwhelming evidence that if you build such infrastructure that it encourages significant uptake of active travel, that you voted against this scheme.

The scheme certainly isn't perfect, however, it is, or should I say was, a big step in the right direction. I had never seen children cycling along that route until the introduction of the new cycle lane. I personally have never felt safer, than when I cycle in that cycle lane. I had hoped that when complete, and my children were at Boclair Acadamy, that they could, on occasion, cycle along with me from Torrance on their way to school. This will no longer be possible.

I am also extremely confused, because this local decision goes against your own parties national policy, with both Derek Mackay and Hamza Yousuf both recently commending the lane at an event where the lane won a national award. The assertions by your colleague Keith Small, that segregation infrastructure is not the way to reach your own parties 'aspiration' for a 10% modal share, flies in the face of international wisdom. I would be keen to see what references you or Keith have for this assertion.

How exactly will people cycle to Waitrose or Asda safely, as suggested by Keith, without segregation? Certainly not with paint on the roads. I can assure you, the previous layout of the road did NOT result in a happy co-existance of road users, as was asserted by Keith.

Also can you confirm for me if your decision to vote for the amendment was indeed a personal decision? I was surprised that your whole party voted in one block, against the extension of the lane. I am no expert in politics, but this looked very much like it was a local party decision to vote against the lane as one group. Was this in fact a personal decision, or a party decision?

I, and many others like me are aghast at this decision (as I stated as I left the meeting room last night). On the face of it you have voted in favour of party politics, and not in the best interests of your constituents, and the future of East Dunbartonshire. This decision will have implications far beyond the authorities boundary, and will as a result have ongoing implications in the areas of health, pollution, climate change, transport inequality, and congestion. Are you happy that you have made the right decision in that regard?

I look forward to your reply, and I ask that you also provide a seperate reply that I can give to my three children aged 11, 9 and 6, who were all very exited about being able to 'cycle through Bearsden and Milngavie' on a safe cycle path.

Yours sincerely,

Dr David Brennan

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Failed by the Police

As I'm sure most of my readers will know I occasionally report bad driving to the police. Not often, because the process is not nice, but I do do it where I feel the driving has been particularly bad. This was one such case.

Today I went to court and was told that the case was to be dropped. Why? Well, the police hadn't served the driver with a section 172, which requires the owner of the vehicle to tell the police who was driving at the time of an incident. Thus, there was no evidence that could be presented to court identifying who the driver was. I was informed all of this by the Procurator Fiscal. This is all despite the fact that, whoever the driver was, the driver had requested that the police counter charge me with careless driving as I had apparently 'forced the driver to brake sharply when I filtered in front'.

So.....and this is a little long winded...... an unidentified driver made a complaint about my cycling, that just so happened to be the driver I was complaining about, which means that driver would have had to give the police his details, and, unless he was lying, would have provided information on the incident in question, but....the court can't be sure who he (I can only assume he was a he....) was?

Here is video of the incident in question. As you'll see, the van is a Car Key Centre van. Feel free to make up your own mind.

What follows are not necessarily the facts of the case. What follows are my opinions of what may or may not happened. I'm going to be fair and provide a number of alternative explanations. Feel free to chose which one you think is accurate based on your own opinon. Perhaps you even have another alternative....

Option 1
I filter in front of the driver just as the queue starts to move. I filter in safely, as I do nearly every day on numerous occasions without incident. The driver did not like this for some reason and decided to drive close to me. I indicate that I don't like this with a palm back gesture. He pulls out and as he passes swerves his van towards me (whilst hitting his horn) in anger. I am forced to swerve into another, fortunately empty lane. The suggestion being that he used his vehicle as weapon.
Option 2
He accidentally dropped his mobile phone and accidentally hit the accelerator, bringing him closer to me. He decided the safest course of action was to try and overtake. As he was passing he went to grab the phone and accidentally hit his horn and swerved towards me. He looked back relieved to see that I had safely swerved into the filter lane. He picked up his phone and apologised to the caller for interrupting the call....
 Option 3
He spotted a friend in the distance, and wanted to get closer, so he accelerated. He noticed a cyclist ahead of him, so pulled out. He hit his horn to say hello and swerved closer to give them a wave, forgetting in that instance that the pesky cyclist was in the way. He met up with the friend later for drinks and had a laugh about the whole unfortunate incident.
Option 4
He carries a large electromagnet in the back of his van, which he accidentally activated as he approached me. This interacted with the aluminium of my bike (actually this does happen, look up Eddie Currents) and caused deviation in his course. He hit the horn to warn me of his big magnet.

Who knows?!

In my opinion justice was not served today. It wasn't allowed to. There are some great police, and I've been helped by them over the years, but this time police screwed up. Serving a section 172 is standard in these cases. So why wasn't it in this case?

Unfortunately this is not the first time that the police have messed up in incidents I have reported. These two failed due to the police not issuing a section 1, which warns the driver that their charges can be changed.

How can such simple, school boy errors be made? Would those type of errors be acceptable in any other type of job? How on earth, considering the evidence that the police had seen, was I charged with careless cycling? Why, if this section 172 had never been issued was the case allowed to progress to court?

So, all three drivers are still free to drive, free of prosecution, not guilty of any charges and probably happy as Larry. In my opinion, that is unacceptable. You may have an opinion too......

What is clear, is that we can't depend on the police to protect us. They might, and as I've said, ther are some great police officers out there, but they might not. It is unfortunately luck of the draw. We need to take the conflict away from our roads. We need to redesign them so drivers like this, can't endanger me, or anyone else any more. This is exactly why, we need investment in proper cycle infrastructure. This is why people asking for the Bears Way to get ripped up, must not succeed.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Chaos in Milngavie?!

It's a wet day in September (27th Sept 2016). It's morning rush hour. It's chaos in Milngavie....

Well, not quite....

About 5 or 6 cars (and their occupants!) are held up for about 21 seconds behind a coach picking up school kids.

That was it.

Chaos. Apparently. At least that is what I keep getting told at consultation meetings for the Bears Way.

In fact here is a video which I emplore you to watch that documents the chaos.

Not exactly chaos next to the cycle lane, was it? In fact, despite all the talk of chaos along the route, I haven't seen one video from a local resident demonstrating any chaos. Strange that, considering I keep hearing about it so much.  I'm sure those opposed to the cycle lane would be quick to post footage if it existed.

Mind you, if you are looking for chaos, just fast forward 1.5 miles down the road to the Switchback (second half of the video) Now that is chaos. Well, OK, not exactly chaos, more of a very long orderly queue of motor traffic. A queue that, if we encourage more people to drive in Milngavie and Bearsden, will only get longer.

Is the answer to rip out the Bears Way? Encourage more people to drive? No. The answer is to encourage the people, those who can, to travel in a different way. Active travel is one of those new choices that a fully completed Bears Way would provide. A choice that only a few take currently, but as has been demonstrated in many other places already, would, if it was made safer. The Bears Way can make it safer.

So, politicians of East Dunbartonshire, are you really going to vote car? Or are you going to vote for a better future?

Monday, 19 September 2016


We've all seen the newspaper headlines of drivers getting a slap on the wrist for Death By Careless Driving charges. Unfortunately I could link to loads of examples where justice is, quite clearly, hasn't been served.

Anyone who follows this blog will know that gaining justice can also be difficult for other less newsworthy incidents. Whilst I have had some success, it is still a very difficult process to go through. There is a hint that things may be changing with some excellent news coming from the West Midland Police, but will change ever come to Glasgow?

Fellow cyclist and Twitter friend @sturmeyarcher3 has had some experiences with the police in Glasgow that he wanted to share. This demonstrates that whilst there appears to be a willingness to help, the process is difficult and often fruitless. This is exactly why police forces need to be as pro-active as possible. and to follow West Midlands Police's lead...

The first round of fixtures was on the 30th May 2009. A beautiful sunny afternoon; the lark on the wing, the snail on the thorn kind of thing. I’m riding my bike to a local shop, a route I used for my commute every working day. I know from previous readings from my bike computer (sadly no more, but more of that later) that my speed would have been about 30mph (it’s a fast downhill, so it”s the fastest I’ll ever go), in a 30 zone, so I’m not holding anyone up.
I’m down, I don’t know what’s happened, what’s happening. A woman is talking to me, asking me if I’m ok. Of course I’m ok, I’m on my bike. I’m not though. I recognise the road, but from a crazy angle. There’s blood. Lots. The woman is talking to someone else- ‘this is what you’ve done’- or something like that. A man says ‘sorry’. The woman talks to me again, tells me not to move, the ambulance is coming.
In the ambulance, paramedics check me over. The noise of what Glasgow children call ‘nee-naws’ in my ears. They ask me what happened. ‘I was riding my bike…’.
Hospital, a trolley being wheeled into A&E. Clothes being cut from me. I’m covered in road rash. The doctor tells me I’ve been in a collision- news to me- I was riding my bike, then I was down- I’d fallen off somehow, that’s what I thought. Collision? The doctor says I’ve given the witnesses a fright- all that blood. He laughs. “So many wee blood vessels there- it always looks really bad- even when it’s not”. He’s more concerned by my neck and spine, but it turns out the road rash and the bleeding from those wee blood vessels were the worst of it, physically anyway.
The police arrive, and I wonder what I did wrong. I can’t think straight. ‘Tell us what happened’.
I say that I was doing about thirty, secondary position, know the road very well- I guess I must have hit a pothole. The officer shakes his head. ‘No. Your bike was hit by an overtaking vehicle- your handlebars have taken the paint off his passenger door’. Blimey. The driver of the car behind me had seen it all, seen the dangerous overtake, seen me being taken out, and stopped to help. Someone in that woman’s car had gone to the traffic lights a short way down the road to confront the driver of the car that had hit me, and brought him back to see what he’d done-
‘this is what you’ve done’- or something like that. A man says ‘sorry’.
The police officer says that the driver was in his late 80s, says he didn’t know he’d hit me.
A few hours and some kindly joshing (what sort of bike have you got? Lots of cyclists on the team here!) later I’m discharged. I get into a taxi, newly aware that I’m a victim of dangerous driving, newly aware of my own mortality, mightily relieved generally. Seeing my bandaged head and hands and shredded clothes the cabbie asks what happened. I tell him what the police said. ‘That’s this year’s holiday paid for then big man’. Eh? What? He says that the driver was at fault and I should claim, easy-peasy.
I’d hadn’t thought of that.
A couple of days later when my head had cleared a bit I called the CTC solicitors and asked their advice. ‘Give us as much detail as possible, we’ll talk to the police and take it from there’. A month or two and a few attempts at ‘no helmet so contributory negligence’ nonsense later, they pay up. My injuries, my trashed bike and bike computer, all tidied up into a sum of money. In other words, guilt admitted.
Justice though, what about that? The two police officers had said that they were in no doubt that the ‘old boy’ shouldn’t be on the road, hadn’t stopped when he’d hit me, didn’t even know he’d hit me- and the book should be thrown at him. So due process took place, and many months later I’m going in the front door of the district court. Suddenly my name is called and I’m in a small room with a man who looks like he’s far too busy for the likes of me- doesn’t even look at me. He’s the Procurator Fiscal and asks about the ‘accident’- not my word. What did I see? I tell him that I didn’t ‘see’ anything, I was riding my bike and then I was down. I’m sure he harrumphed. ‘Well if that’s all you can say you’re an unreliable witness and we won’t proceed’. I was shown the door. Out in the street I felt like I’d just been trashed into the road again. I couldn’t describe what happened so the ‘crime’ didn’t happen. Just like that.
Road crime 1 Justice 0.
About three years later, about half a mile from home, not as far as the spot where the previous incident took place, a converted minibus gave me a really close pass. I mean really close. I mean a magnatom-type-screaming-at-him close pass. Another magnatom thing-I’d taken to shouting out and trying to memorise number plates of those who come close to killing me, I did so. At the next set of lights (it’s inevitable that these dangerous folk don’t really get anywhere fast, for all their nutcase driving) I pull up on the inside (bags of room, he’s turning right) and tap on the nearside window. He winds it down, I tell him him he’d passed too close. I shouted it, he’d terrified me. I know. Abuse followed. Cyclist bingo. Then he slipped the brake off, allowed the vehicle to roll back a couple of yards, then turned the wheel and drove at me. Twice. I managed to unclip and jump onto the pavement. He then jumped the red light and was gone.
I’m shaken. Unhurt, but shaken. The driver of the car next in the queue at the lights spoke to me, said I should report it. I remembered the harrumphing PF and thought ‘no’. She gave me her name and number and asked me again to report it. As I cycled to work I turned it over in my mind, and pitched up at the House of Plod. Reported. A few weeks later I got a Sunday morning phone call asking me to visit the local police station. I was interviewed in a store cupboard. ‘What was I wearing?’ ‘Did you have your hi-viz on?’.’You should wear a camera- we do but it means we have to be on our best behaviour’.
Upshot? No such vehicle with the number plate I and the witness described. ‘Maybe false plates’. No further action.
Road crime 2 Justice 0. 
August 1 2015. A lovely Saturday evening, 7pm ish. I head out to see the new Bearsway, a controversial (motorists hate it) cycle lane. 50 yards from home I’m punishment passed by a high revving 4×4. I’m human. I gave him the vickies. 75 yards up the road he stopped- middle of the road. He’s blocking the whole lane, and gets out of the car and stands in the other lane, simultaneously stopping me getting past him and stopping cars coming the other way. I don’t fancy a close confrontation with this madman so try to cycle up the inside, and he rushes across and decks me. I’m down.
My hip and knee have hit the kerb and my bike is on top of me. I somehow unclip, get out and take my camera from my jersey pocket. Shaking with fear I take a photo of the number plate (I learned something from the previous incident), but no way am I pointing it at the face of the clearly incensed driver. The driver of a car which had been stopped by the incident got out and instructed the madman to move. ‘You didn’t see what he did- he tried to swerve into me!’ (Bike versus 4x 4- yeah right). Mr Angry moved to hit me again. ‘Police officer instructing you to get in your vehicle!’ Where did that come from? It was the witness. Mr Angry fumed, but obeyed and was gone.
I thanked the witness, wondered how he’s thought of that one – ‘I am a police officer- off duty so I can’t call it in- but you should’. Off duty officers can’t call the police? Eh? Anyway, I thank the witness, I’m sure he saved me from further damage- the driver was seriously nuts, the bastard child of Ronnie Pickering and Jason Wells with a touch of Keith Peat’s Dog- but angrier and violent.
So I go to local plodshop. Statement taken (once she’s found a pen). It gets a bit silly here, but I made none of it up.
I ask what happens next. ‘We’ll make enquiries’. Then what? How can I find out- shall I come back in? Sharp intake of breath. ‘Ah, well, you see, this is A division, not B division.’ What?
‘It’s a B division incident, so when it’s processed we pass it on to B division and than we can’t access the details because we’re A division and we’re not allowed to see B division records”
I make a smart arse comment about Police Scotland being a unified force that probably has an intranet all of its own. No deal. ‘You can’t come back to this office- even if it is your nearest police office, this is A division, you’re B division’.
I ask for a crime/incident number so that I can follow up with what’s happening. Sharp intake of breath. ‘We can’t allocate an incident number- we don’t have a typist on duty’ A typist. In 2015 the law stops for want of a typist.
To be fair, an incident number was then phoned to me later that evening, but what if I hadn’t insisted?
Two weeks pass and an officer from B division phones. He wants a statement. I do it all again.
He tells me that the vehicle has a registered keeper in Wales. So? ‘Well, that makes it complicated’. How? Silence. Crime. UK police force, make a phone call. I say these things, maybe not in that order, maybe with a tinge of incredulity. Silence. ‘Leave it with me’.
Months later, Sunday evening, two police officers at my door. Statement taken. Again. The ‘Wales’ story again. ‘It’s complicated’. Again. I ask if the witness is really a police officer- ‘yes he is’.
To my mind it’s open and shut. Crime witnessed by police. Photo evidence of the vehicle used by the criminal taken at the scene. But it’s ‘complicated’.
Months later. Two more police officers at my door. They have mugshots. I tell them I was not making eye contact with the thug at the time, I was trying to minimise any escalation of his actions, so I couldn’t identify him from mugshots. ‘Hmm’.
August 7 2016. Phone call from B division. ‘We can’t identify who the driver was so we can’t take any action’.
September 17 2016. I write to the police expressing my despair at the lack of a prosecution.
September 18 2016. Two officers turn up and spend a long time explaining the ins and outs of the case and the reasons for their being unable to proceed. It goes along these lines, sort of.
The car was, at the time of the assault, registered in Wales and the registered keeper was defintitely in Wales at that time. The car was in Scotland, having been ‘traded’ but the paperwork not completed. By the time the police investigated my assault the car’s ownership was in doubt; not registered to anyone, no insurance detailed- nothing. All attempts to trace the occupants of the car that evening came to nought. It was a whole lot more complex than that, we spent an hour or so, me asking more and more questions, the police describing each cul de sac and the frustrations they felt. They explained that the witness, the police officer, had indeed reported the crime and had taken the action he had (asking the driver to get in the car and leave) because he felt that was the best way to reduce the immediate risk; he was alone and the guy was well-pumped up, and knew that I had the vehicle reg number so due process would catch the guy. Fair enough.
It seemed to me, although I’m filling in these details based on the looks on the officers’ faces rather than anything actually said, that the driver of the vehicle (Mr Punchy-Angry) took fright, and somehow got rid of the vehicle in the strict legal sense- so it now probably has become ‘another’ vehicle, with different plates etc.
Two frustrated police officers, to be fair, who clearly stated that at times like this the victim can feel let down. No shit eh? They also spoke about vulnerable road users, how they frequently sit in their unmarked cars and deal with those who close pass cyclists etc. All very nice. I told them about the West Midlands Traffic Police initiative (no brownie points for not already knowing this), and they told me about the atmosphere at the recent Bearsway meetings they had attended (much shaking of heads and muttering about ‘what’s wrong with these people?’)
Anyway, a cordial meeting, but the bottom line is the arrogant, entitled and violent thug got away with it. I can only hope that he had to spend a lot of money covering his tracks.
Road crime 3 Justice 0.

Friday, 9 September 2016

East Dunbartonshire. Time for Change.


Today on Facebook I was reminded of a photo from 4 years ago. It was a photo of me with Mark Beaumont at the finish area of Pedal for Scotland handing out Pedal on Parliament postcards with the word Change on them. This was early days in the Pedal on Parliament campaign when we were still finding out feet, and wondering if Change could really happen. It was a time when pretty much every council was paying, at very best, lip service to cycling. You'd get the odd ASL here, the odd painted lane there.

The change we were asking for was fundamental. We weren't just asking for change in funding for cycling, we were asking for a significant change in political will.

So what Change have we seen. At first glance you might think very little. We haven't reached the 10% of funding for active travel (5% for cycling), that we asked for. Yes, funding has increased, but only a wee bit. It hasn't gone down, which is probably a victory! So we've failed? No. The Change that has occurred has been more subtle.

When we started there were battles even within the cycling community. To segregate or not segregate, that was the question. There were still many who felt that the roads were fine, that paint would help, and that education would supplement the paint. There was a time that I thought that too. Thus places like London pressed on with the 'Superhighways' which consisted of blue paint. A nice shade of blue paint, granted, but it was still just paint.

Did the revolution come? No. In fact the lack of proper facilities just angered people more. Worse, people were dying. Bikes and HGVs especially were mixing in a way that would only end one way. The superhighways had failed. And so, in London the bloggers, the press and the people who cared, pushed on. Political pressure was applied. Eventually it paid off and grand plans were announced. Fantastic! Except, not everyone was happy. Many were furious!

There'd be bedlam. Traffic grid lock. Business would suffer. Why cater for a small minority?! There's no space! NO ONE WOULD USE IT!!

It was painful to watch.

Very politically difficult decisions had to be made. Amazingly they were.

So work started.

The anger didn't stop there. It got more vociferous. Angry celebrities in their chauffeur driven Rolls Royces talked of chaos. Businesses set about legally challenging the lanes. But the lanes went ahead despite it all. And then they were finished.

What happened next was.....well, it wasn't chaos. It wasn't gridlock. It was something that previously many didn't believe possible. The lanes worked. People, not just Lycra clad warriors (I say that, having been labelled as one) or commuting die hards, came out to use them. It was people, all shapes, sizes and ages. Families are now seen cycling through central London. Not up the back roads, not on a canal path far away from sight, but on main commuter roads. It was and is a wonderful sight to behold.

So now more lanes are planned, and again the doomsters are fighting it. It can't work!! Gridlock!! Etc. However, the arguments are sounding a little more hollow, and fly in the face of what many can now see for themselves. That people can and do want to move around a city in a different way.

Back in leafy Bearsden and Milngavie, we can hear cries of....but we're a town, not a city. It's different here! These bare more than just a passing resemblence to the the cries from London, but we are a huge city, we aren't Amsterdam, it can't happen here.

Of course it can.

Example after example from Europe, from the US and beyond are now showing us that everywhere isn't different. People are people, cities are cities and towns are towns, and given the right conditions where cycling is provided as a safe and viable alternative, it does happen.

It's not easy of course, because Change never is. It involves making some sacrifices. It means that a road might have to be a wee bit narrower. It means that occasionally you might have to wait behind a bus for 20 seconds. It means that occasionally at junctions, priorities might need to be adjusted. The odd parking space has to be lost!

It feels like our liberties are being taken away from us.

Are we truly free though? Is having a congestion free dual carriage way Bearsden Road which you can zoom down at 40 mph without impediment in your car really freedom? Only to be stuck in 2 miles of nose to tail traffic on the Switchback Road, which is already dual carriage way, so perhaps we need three lanes each way? What about those that can't drive, perhaps as they are too young, can't afford it, or are not able to through disability. Sure, the bus is one option, but it will never truly provide the freedom that we yearn, by taking us from where we live to where-ever we want to go. It will help  to some extent, and is part of the integrated solution, but it is not the whole answer.

Freedom only comes when all those who wish to travel, by whatever means they wish, can do it in a way that is safe, comfortable and convinient. As London, and countless other examples demonstrate, if you build it, they will truly come. And they will come with the many, many benefits that having a significant percentage of your populations travelling actively will bring.

So I call on the politicians and especially the councillors of East Dunbartonshire to think carefully about the future. Not just their own future, or at the ballot box next year, but for the future of an area I am sure they really do care for. I ask for them to consider that Change, even politically difficult Change is not only desirable, but needed for the area to flourish. Yes there is a strong local voice against it, but then many of them don't want children to have freedom of safe movement. Is that what you and your party stand for?! Really?

If they chose not to invest in active travel, the area will drown under the weight of the motor vehicle, something that even many of the opponents of the Bears Way agree is an issue. The status quo, or returning the road back, 'to its former glory' is simply not the answer.

Be on the side of change. Be on the side of a brighter, healthier, less polluted, less congested East Dunbartonshire. Be on the side of Change for a better future. An active travel East Dunbartonshire.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bearsden and Milngavie - Not for Children.

Last week I attended a very aggressive and very depressing public meeting which was supposed to be focusing on the Phase 2 design of the Bears Way Cycle Lane. I honestly cannot put into words how utterly shameful the event was. It was the most intimidating atmosphere I have ever experienced at a meeting, in my life.
This is not, of course, how the local paper describes it. It focuses on the outrage of the braying mob at being held up a little, and the positioning of the projector. They didn't mention any of the reasonable facts that the council shared to counter the many unsupported assertions from the angry mob. They didn't mention the resounding 'NO!' to the question, should children be able to ride along the A81. They didn't mention the fact that people were saying that, 'if you don't live in the area, you don't have a say'.

I'm not going to link to the website article. It's just click bate. 

Rather than me trying to describe the meeting, I ask you to spare at least 10 minutes of your time to listen to some of the audio from the event. The audio is longer, and if you can, it is all worth listening to all of it (and the second half is linked at the bottom if you want the whole lot), but I can understand if you want to stop at about 10 minutes. Here it is here. On listening to this you will understand why I use words like lynch, braying and mob. I do not use them lightly.

It's pretty shocking isn't it. I'm sorry you had to listen to that.

Anyway, I will leave the rest of this blog to a guest blogger. He specifically answers one of the criticisms about access for emergency services. Many suggest, 'lives will be lost because the road is narrower and thus emergency vehicles will be held up'. He also answers many other points as well.

The following is written by Dr Robbie Coull  Pre-Hospital Immediate Care Doctor. He has agreed that I can share this with you.

The Bearsway cycle path is an excellent path that will really enhance the future health of the generations living in Bearsden and Milngavie. Thanks to the team at Bears Way and Sustrans and EDLC for making this possible.
As an advanced trained driver (IAM and blue light) who regularly uses the A81, I can give my expert opinion that the road is entirely safe. The only accident I've attended on the A81 was as the Hillfoot end of the Bearsway and was due to excess speed on a bend in the wet by the driver. ED Police have confirmed that all accidents on the new road have been due to such driver errors.
Having driven on the A81 in Hillfoot and Milngavie since 1986 when I first took my test, and passing my Institute of Advanced Motorists test in the area in the 1990s, it is my expert opinion that the old A81 was dangerous due to the excessive speeds being used on four narrow lanes. 36-40mph was the norm on the road for as long as I have been driving on it.
The Bearsway redesign means the A81 Hillfoot cannot be driven safely at speed in excess of the speed limit. I drive it at 25-30mph in good conditions. If you find the road 'feels' dangerous, then you should reduce your speed by 5-10mph and see how that feels. Remember to turn off the road over the cycle path at very low speed, checking for cyclists ahead and behind as you approach.
I'm happy to do ride along for anyone who is struggling.
There were concerns raised about older people and the disabled. Both groups can cycle given the correct infrastructure, and removing cars from the road improves the driving and parking for people with chronic illness that must use a car.
There were concerns raised about the buses. The buses were struggling to move once stopped and stopping on the carriageway shortens bus journeys. The average queue behind a stopped bus is 2-4 vehicles.
There were concerns raised about crossing the road if you have a disability or are frail because of the cycle safety kerb at Reid Ave. I've checked the route, and there are gaps in the safety kerb to allow crossing at Reid Ave as well as other points for bus stops along the route. This is now safer than before due to the slower speed and less lanes of traffic.
It was mentioned that cyclists are crashing into the architecture (bollards etc). While this may well to apocryphal (I've not come across any cases), if true it is still safer than crashing into cars due to the much lower Killed Seriously Injured (KSI) rates. This also applies to head on cycle collisions should any occur.
There were some wild fantasies about cyclists chatting, hitting the kerb and being thrown into traffic that can be discounted as much less of a risk than the old cycle paths.
There seemed to be a lot of anger at the meetings from groups of much older residents who reported increased journey times. I found this odd, as this demographic have less reason to be concerned about journey times than those working, looking after children etc..
Journey times are going to be increased from road calming meaning that excessive speeding that was the norm is now much more difficult. Complaining about not being able to break the law is not an acceptable concern.
Journey times will also be increased from lane reduction to clear space for vulnerable road users. This reduction is not great, and is a price that any right thinking person will see as a reasonable sacrifice to ensure a better environment and better health for our children and grandchildren. In civilised societies, the views of those not willing to make small sacrifices for the future generations are rightly discounted.
Furthermore, the mob of angry, bullying, rude people shouting down experts, ridiculing scientific evidence, and booing the idea of children cycling on cycle paths, devalued their standing in our society. Loud ignorant views are also rightly discounted when health and safety planning are being considered.
When an angry mob who's average remaining life expectancy is 10-20 years demand that their views should outweigh those of children who will be using the cycle path for the next 80 years, and those views are based on minor inconvenience and a desire to continue to break traffic laws, then we need to stand up to such bullies and say 'No, your behaviour is selfish, rude, and unacceptable in a civilised society'.
There is a follow up meeting this Wednesday 7th September in Milngavie Town Hall at 7pm . Wouldn't it be fabulous if we had more reasonable voices there? Voices that call for safe infrastructure for all, and not just for those in cars? Voices that realise that children have as much right to independent, safe travel, as any adult?

Please come to the meeting. Please write to the council ( to let them know you support what they are doing, even though it might not be perfect yet.

Please help us make East Dunbartonshire a cycle friendly area.

The following is the audio from the Q&A session toward the end of the meeting.

Monday, 29 August 2016

BearsWay: A Tale of Two Gentlemen

The Bear Way phase 1 wasn't perfect. Yes, I've said it. In fact I have previously gone into quite a bit of detail about its shortcomings. Of particular note are the entrances and exits which are badly designed  and the fact that the lane swaps sides of the road part way through.
Yes, mistakes were definitely made. It isn't perfect and I pointed that out. In fact I pointed it out in pretty strong terms. I have though since had plenty of opportunity to use it and watch it being used, and if I'm honest, it is far, far superior to what was there before. I regularly see kids riding on it, and I NEVER EVER saw kids riding along that road before. I was harsh when I initially reviewed it, and in hindsight, I was probably too harsh.

Perfect? No. A big step in the right direction towards more people friendly streets? Yes!

Unfortunately though very vocal sections of the local community have focused on on the flaws. In a big way. They are keen to point out the flaws ad nauseam. They are keen to flag up any incidents that happen in the area that in any way whatsoever might be connected to the existence of the cycle lanes. I don't remember them being outraged when I was having incidents in the old road lay out! They are keen to point out when a cyclist dares not to use the cycle lane. They are keen to point out that having had 14 knee replacements, and 5 new hips, their neighbour 6 doors down, won't be able to use it, so we should rip it up.


Still, some of their concerns are correct. Two lanes on one side of the road isn't perfect. I've not had many issues myself, but yes, some may have. Tweeks at the junctions could resolve all of these issues. The narrowing of the road has reduced the speed of traffic (I fail to see how this is a bad thing, but hey...). Some of the junctions are a little harder to get out of (although the main reason they are hard to get out of, seems to have been overlooked.....the huge amount of traffic!). The road is constantly congested beyond belief......Umm, actually, it isn't. A chap driving up and down the road 150 times has published data showing that on average you are held up 1.3 seconds because of the lane. Scary.

But, let me be quite frank here. I'm going to be as honest about the possible outcome of phase 2 and beyond. There is a possibility, as mad, dangerous and utterly infuriating as it may sound, but if the next phases are designed properly.......

Drivers and their cars may take slightly longer to drive this section of road.

There. I said it.

In fact a very wise man once said some very wise words on the subject:

It is recognised that achieving these targets will require a combination of "pull" and "push". On the pull side is the need to offer an enhanced public transport system with faster, more direct, more frequent and more comfortable services. Cycling will also be encouraged with an enhanced, extensive, safe network of routes with lighting and secure parking. The push will come from the use of parking restraints, a land-use policy designed to minimise demand for vehicle movement and the introduction of a requirement for firms to develop workplace transport plans which reduce dependence on car commuting.

If we really want a better environment, reduced traffic, less pollution, better health, etc, we need to accept a little inconvenience.  Spot on. In fact this wise gentleman goes on to say:

Individuals may have to accept restrictions on what they may presently perceive as their freedom to choose where, when and how to travel. Politicians and professional officers at both national and local government level will have to make difficult decisions regarding their attitude to transport and be prepared to promote and enforce restraints on the demand for movement.

I'd say this actually goes a little beyond what I'd want. Though I think he is suggesting that movement using the car might need to be restricted and that would help drive demand of more sustainable options (whilst understanding that not everyone can use those alternatives).

Importantly he points out that the decision to do this is most likely to be difficult politically, and that those who will drive these schemes forward will find the going tough. Spot on again my friend, as we are finding out with BearsWay and over in Edinburgh with Roseburn Cycle Route.

If only the residents of Bearsden and Milngavie would take head of this gentleman's words. Unfortunately even local retired roads experts don't heed these words, as is demonstrated in this letter.

Just in case you can't read the letter in the picture, here is the relevant section:

I have been lucky this year in my travels around Europe where I have seen exemplary practice in providing for cyclists where the authorities involved have managed to reconcile and promote the needs of all road users without adversely affecting the interests of any.

So this gentleman who, by his own words has spent his whole professional career in the field of transport policy and planning, thinks that the needs of all road users can be met without adversely affecting the interests of others. This is, as I am sure you can work out for yourselves, totally at odds with the comments of the first gentleman I quoted. It is also actually at odds with what happens in European cities where cycling is a major mode of transport. In Amsterdam for instance, many parking spaces have been lost!  The first gentleman  suggests that we need, 'push' and 'pull', if we are to (and this is a quote again from the first gentleman), 'to progress towards a user friendly transport environment'. At POP we talk about a people friendly environment, but I think the sentiment is the same.

Is it possible then to reconcile these two gentlemen's opinions. What differs between them, and can we bridge the gap?

23 years.


Yes, 23 years, is exactly what differs between these two gentlemen, or should I say this gentleman. You may have twigged already, but the chap writing the first piece (back in 1993) is in fact the same chap who wrote the above letter to the local newspaper. You can find his original article here and read from page 10.

So what really has changed? I think that this chap was almost ahead of his time in 1993 writing as he did. He could see that increasing car ownership and use was not sustainable, and that change was required, and part of that change required investment in active travel. He could see that the change that was required, wouldn't be easy. It would be politically difficult. Now though, in his 2016 letter, rather than writing about it from a dispassionate distance, he is very much affected by the proposed changes personally, and he is doing what most of us do in that situation, fighting against the introduction of perceived difficulties that may directly affect him. He is fighting against the politically difficult decisions which he himself suggested were required.

I totally understand where he is coming from. Change, when it affects someone else, is easy. It is not easy though when it affects you.

In the short term, BearsWay will indeed cause local disruption. It might take a lane away here, and narrow a lane there. The road will not be as 'gloriously wide' as it once was (yes, I've heard people say that). It may take you a bit longer to get to Asda, or to pop to the golf club, or pick the kids up from school. But, for the sake of leaving the house a couple of minutes earlier, imagine what you could gain....

Kids, getting much needed exercise on the way to school (when the lane is fully finished my kids could use it to get to their High School)..... 10% or even possibly more of the cars on the road, vanishing, as more people (who are able) deciding to take the bike to work and not the car...... As a result, lower traffic volumes, and thus and nicer environment to live in.... Lower levels of pollution (see section 4.2.7 in this report).... Lower traffic speeds, and thus fewer serious crashes and injuries.... Better population health.... More business footfall (yes cycling does bring more local business, to local businesses!).

Medium to long term, its very likely that theinitia  disruption would fade away. Eventually as cycling numbers increase negative effects on motor traffic would be offset by the shift in use away from the motor car.


Well that's pretty much what has said everywhere where this type of infrastructure has gone in, and amazingly it has always made a difference. Build it, and importantly, properly connect it, and they do come!

We are now sat at a crossroads, On Thursday this week (1st) and Wednesday next week (7th) there will be public meetings in the evening in Milngavie. The gentleman above will almost certainly be there. The chap who told me kids should cycle on the back roads will be there. The lady who really doesn't want the road narrowed will be there. Will you be there?

Yes, it almost certainly will be horrible, It is likely to be full of emotion, prejudice and exaggeration. All the more reason why we need to be there to support something that, if it goes ahead, could be an asset for generations to come. We have been battling for segregated cycle infrastructure for years, now that we are tantalisingly close to getting something decent, we mustn't let it be watered down by NIMBYism.

Let's show the future we care. Let's help make East Dunbartonshire a cycle friendly region.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Glasgow, A Cycling City!?


Yep, drugs.

That's the only answer I could come up with that could explain a link I was forwarded today. The writer of the article must have been on some pretty powerful recreational drugs.

At first the article made me laugh, but the article was not trying to be funny. Oh no. In fact this website was trying to list...


Great, what's funny about that. Surely it will be a list consisting of quite a few cities from the Netherlands, and Denmark, probably with a few other notable European cities, perhaps Seville, or Berlin. Maybe the odd US city. Perhaps, at an absolute push it might mention London, who at this very moment is taking baby steps, but important baby steps, towards building a segregated network.

It definitely wouldn't include Glasgow. No it wouldn't. Really!!

It did.

In at number 14, one place behind Amsterdam and one place above Berlin, nestled the Dear Green Place...Glasgow.

Wow. Perhaps I've been riding in the wrong parts of Glasgow. Perhaps I've just missed the good bits. Ok, there is teeny, weeny wee green shoots appearing here and there, but they are teeny weeny. Perhaps it mentions the South West cycle route.......OK, by European standards its a bit...meh....but you know...

No. Here is the wee bit on Glasgow.
Glasgow is home to the breathtaking Red Tunnel that leads from Finnieston to Hydro. The tunnel is car-free and offers an exhilarating ascent and descent. Glasgow has more than 300 kilometers of cycle ways as well as a flat traffic-free route that runs from the city, through the quintessential Scottish countryside to the canal side town of Kirkintilloch.
All of Glasgow’s must see sites, including the Gallery of Modern Art, the Riverside Museum, the Tall Ship and the Lighthouse, are easily accessible by bike and within five minutes of a Nextbike station. (Nextbike is the city’s bike-share program.)

Wait a minute!!! A 'breathtaking Red Tunnel'?! 300km of cycle infrastructure? And a canal path? That's what gets you to number 14? Oh I suppose they mention the Nextbike hire scheme...ok, that's a good thing, but that certainly doesn't make Glasgow a cycle friendly city!

So that Red Tunnel...What exactly is it?

Yes, it's a red tunnel with some green and red paint in it, Cyclists are supposed to keep to the green and pedestrians are supposed to keep to the red. It has a few sharp bends in it, it goes up and down and....well, it is a million miles away from breathtaking! That is unless it is the occasional smell of urine that is taking your breath away.

Seriously this is not a good looking structure. It was built because the Exhibition Centre (and other more recent buildings) couldn't be built next to the train station. There is a ruddy huge road in the way!

I actually searched the internet to see if I could find any pictures of the outside of it. I couldn't. Not surprising when you look at the Google Streetview picture of it....

Breathtaking? Hmm.

But this is a minor issue. The biggest issue is the 300km of cycle infrastructure that Glasgow is supposed to have. Let me state this very, very clearly....

Glasgow does not have 300km of cycle infrastructure!!!!!!!

I'm not going to go into detail here, GlasgowCycleMan hits the nail on the head with his analysis, We currently have (its increased a bit) about 4km of segregated cycle route. We have about 70km of off road leisure (some commuting) routes. So we effectively have 74km of any type of reasonable route.

The rest is made up of paint on the roads (20.6km), shared use, like the fabulous red bridge ( of which the vast majority is absolutely pants, 40km of what is called calmed/low traffic routes (40km) which are actually just....umm, err...roads that are a bit quieter.

Oh, and lets not forget the bus corridors. 83km of that. That is, roads that have some bus lanes. We can use those. We have to share them with buses of problems there...ahem.... when there aren't any buses, sure they can be good. They can be reasonable. when there isn't a bus in it, and when the lane is within its enforced times, which it often isn't, oh and where the bus lane is continuous, which it almost never is.

This bit is important..... The whole of the bus corridor is counted as cycle network. I cycle down a bus corridor sometimes on Maryhill Road. Lots of Maryhill Road has no bus lanes on it. That doesn't matter. It all counts in Glasgow City Council's network. Some of Maryhill Road does have bus lanes, lots doesn't. It all counts.

So, dear article writer. I strongly suspect that you haven't ever set foot in Glasgow and, as I suggest at the start of the article, that you are on some really spacey drugs. Perhaps Glaswegian cyclists could do with those drugs and we would all be cycling in Unicorn Bike

......What, you want to read the article in question? Well read