I feel in a exclamation mark sort of mood, I must admit, as I've just read something online that has made me angry.
This is probably good timing though. Being angry about what a prospective councillor in my area has said, the day before PoP Weekend (oh, should we use #popweekend on Twitter!?) is good, because I can calm down surrounded by thousands of like minded people.
Anyway, what am I so worked up about? Well, a candidate for the SNP Denis Johnston has released a statement with the following headline:
Off to a great start there Denis!
You can read it yourself here.
Below I'll go through it with comments. They might be a bit...angry.
ACTIVE and safe travel is a top concern for candidates in the upcoming East Dunbartonshire Council election.Indeed it is. You are concerned about winning votes from Mr and Mrs Angry.
The SNP is encouraging motorists to use other forms of transport, has secured an update to Active Travel Routes and is promoting rail halts across the local authority.Ah the rail halt, the one which was scored very poor value for money in a recent analysis.
Denis Johnston, candidate for Bearsden South, said: “In East Dunbartonshire, the SNP group has a proud record of supporting policies and measures to get people across the whole local authority getting more active.Umm...
“For example, the SNP secured a commitment from the Council to update all Active Travel Routes to schools, to encourage walking and cycling to school by identifying safe routes.
Ah. This is called the 'round the houses' policy. This involves looking at where people live, looking at where the school is, and drawing a really wiggly contorted line that goes on the quietest roads you can find. Spending consists of producing maps with the wiggly lines plotted out, giving the route a name (Wiggly Way?) and putting up some pretty coloured signs. Most importantly it inconveniences car drivers the least.
“In addition, we are heavily involved in the modal shift agenda encouraging motorists to use other forms of transport and are promoting a new Allander Rail Halt with Park and Ride facilities to assist these changes.”Ah more parking spaces at stations, which would actually increase traffic in the area, and once again, the really poor value for money rail halt. Public transport is an issue in the area. Now if we only had a decent bus service....
On the Bears Way, Denis added: “Many safety concerns have arisen after the first part of Bears Way was finished. For instance, worries at junctions and crossings. On the back of this, the SNP instigated a moratorium on the project pending a report on its safety.Safety concerns! Wait!! Why weren't there any safety concerns about the utter, utter crap cycle lanes that were there before? Where was your (or your party's) concern then? As for safety, have you ridden it Denis? I'd be really interested to know. Did you ride it before the lane was built? I can assure you, 100%, that it is vastly safer than it was. That's why you now see kids and families riding on it, when you never did before. Sure the entrance and the exits are a bit rubbish, but....and here's the doozy.....that will only be resolved by extending it!! Oh wait, your party stopped that from happening...
“Looking ahead to the potential phase two, even more problems are leaping out, with the public questioning the complete lack of common sense in them.A small proportion of the public whom the vast majority of which have probably never ridden a bike on a road in their lives. And what plans are their concerns based on? Well, there were some very basic proposals produced by the council, and they did some early traffic modelling. These were produced to get a feel for which proposals were preferred. There was no detail at all, just a number of options.
In fact the preferred option had a good chance of improving the function of the junctions in the area. Yes there was uncertainty, which is why the council wanted to go to the detailed planning stage. You know, the stage were you actually have some plans to base decisions on. Yes, that stage that the SNP and Lib Dems stopped being produced by the moratorium you mentioned earlier....
“For example, the section that would go down Boclair Road. This road is very busy and there is absolutely no room to fit a large cycle path in at either side. Not to mention the chaos this would cause road users during the lengthy construction period.That road is very busy. I know, I quite often drive up and down it. So does my wife. There are though, absolutely no plans whatsoever for the cycle lane to go down (or up as it is a 12% hill) Boclair Road. It will go past the bottom of it though.
The council had a very innovative suggestion for how the Boclair junction could be improved (and would according to initial modelling actually improve it....). Had we gone to the detailed planning stage then we would have been able to make some proper decisions, but.....I think you know where I am going here.....the SNP and Lib Dems blocked the the detailed planning stage. So we are left with your, and Mr and Mrs Angry's hearsay.
“The SNP overwhelmingly supports residents cycling, but rather across the whole of East Dunbartonshire, instead of one single route, which looks doomed to fail at significant cost to the public.”Oh boy. Oooooh boy.
Where exactly do you 'overwhelming support' residents (I suspect as someone who lives in East Dunbartonshire, but not in Bearsden, that I don't count as a resident....what about people from Glasgow, or elsewhere...?) cycling? On the back roads out of the way? Yup. On a main arterial route, which is a main arterial route....for the very reason.... that its the most efficient road to travel on from A to B, which unfortunately, and rather annoyingly for important people in cars, is where people want to travel on bikes... No.
Mind you, you have a point. Cycling should be safe across the whole of East Dunbartonshire, not just along the A81, but this is where your argument falls down (well it sunk ages ago...). The A81 will hopefully be a part of a network. That network will consist of spokes. That is, arterial routes. These spokes will connect to other areas, some of which would have segregated lanes (which unfortunately might force drivers to keep to the speed limits) some would have 20mph speed limits (damn, speed limits again), filtered permeability, where some routes have to be closed to cars reducing rat running etc.
For this whole plan to work, you need Bears Way. Then, you need another Bears Way, Then another, and then you look at all the other improvements that allow people to get to and from the spokes that take them to the places they want to go.
This is how transport works!
It cannot work without Bears Ways! Unless you have some new innovative way of making towns and cities cycle friendly, which the rest of the world has missed? Elevated cycle ways perhaps?
As for 'doomed to fail, and 'significant cost the public'....Do you actually understand the huge costs to society that increased levels of driving, and the resulting pollution brings? Do you actually have a handle on the relative spend on cycling and walking compared to road building in this country? Do you understand the power of 4 relationship between road damage and axle weight which results in cars doing significant damage to the roads, where cyclists do practically none? Do you understand the societal costs to health of a sedentary lifestyle? Do you understand the cost of thousands of people being injured and killed by bad driving every year?!
I'm going to hazard a guess.... no.
And finally....'doomed'. Well, yes, it might be. Why? Not because there are any significant flaws in the project or the vision,....sure its not perfect, it needs tweaked here and there, oh and extended....... but because people like you don't listen to facts. You listen to Mr and Mr Angry and you think....hmmm, how can I get a few extra votes so that I can get elected to council? Honestly, that is how this comes across.
Anyway, thanks for helping me write my short speech that I will be giving at PoP Glasgow. I honestly, seriously hope you will come and join us, so you can see what an 'adverse impact' really looks like. I think you'll find it looks like a people friendly Scotland.
What I do ask, is that anyone who is reading this, who is a resident of East Dunbartonhsire, please seriously consider who you want to put a 1,2, or 3 against on the ballot papers...and seriously consider who you want to put the largest number against.....