Cycling Safety not Paying Lip Service

If you write the Transport Minster (as I have) asking about the appalling number of cyclists killed on our road, you will (as I did) have your reply from someone nobody ever heard of, telling you how much money the governments allocated annually to local councils to improve the lot of cyclists.

Write your local council asking them how they are using the money allocated by the Westminster Government; you will be lucky if you even receive a reply, or possibly they will tell you how much money they give to the likes of Sustrans, I’m not sure what they are about apart from keeping themselves in well-paid jobs, as a charity, collecting money from the lottery fund and local authorities. They tell you they promote walking and cycling. Well maybe that is what they believe but they are only a scapegoat so that governments and local authorities can wash their hands of their responsibility to promote safe cycling.  

Take the route from Forth to Clyde, Edinburgh to Glasgow, “mostly” traffic-free along a succession of railway and riverside paths. I have ridden this as a charity ride once and believe me don’t even try it without solid tyres on your bike, the amount of broken glass on the path (and that is all it is a path) was a disgrace.  I admit I have not ridden it since the Bathgate/Airdrie railway, reopened in 2010 with a cycleway along the side. In Glasgow, NCN 75 is a riverside path along the wide River Clyde.

Phoenix Trail (Princes Risborough to Thame) was well publicised when it opened so when I was cycling in that area I thought I would give it a go, yes, new-laid tarmac had been laid along a length of a disused railway, unfortunately, little had been done to kill off the bramble before they laid the tarmac (cheep and shoddy) now the young shoots were growing up through the surface. Yet Sustrans promote it as one of their flagship routes, – it is, they tell you flatly, well-surfaced and traffic-free. With magnificent views of the nearby Chiltern Hills, this is a lovely place for a relaxed bike ride or walk. The trail is rich in wildlife and, if you’re lucky, you may spot red kites, which thrive in this area. If we are talking about recreation at a weekend fair enough, but a far cry from anything close to making our roads within and without safe to cycle on.

A recent survey suggested that two-thirds of Scots questioned said Cycling was not for them and I can understand why. Scotland has no safe cycling in even its major cities and outside of the cities and towns, you simply take your chances along with the rest of the road traffic, most of which, treat you as nascence, and should not be allowed on the road at all.

These past two weeks I have cycled in London (taking my life into my own hands) In Paris (a joy), Salzburg and now Munich. This is the difference between a proper well-constructed traffic system that promotes cycling within the city and not Scotland discourages it.

I shall not go into why Scotland needed to build the cycling infrastructure to encourage people out of their cars and onto their bikes; the reasons are so obvious they do not need to be explained. Here is how it works here in Munich, and why there are no big (and expensive) car parks at railway stations, no endless people visiting their doctor with problems, that could be eradicated with a little exercise each day (cycling to the railway station not driving).

However, this will never happen unless the infrastructure is put in place to promote traffic-free routes around our cities (and I don’t mean a painted line along the side of some streets, (cyclists used for traffic calming) I mean dedicated cycle lanes separate from pedestrians, separate from road traffic.  

So what do we need to do in Scotland to get people out of the cars and onto a bike for short daily commutes to the shops, schools, and rail and bus stations? and before you tell me that a lot of money seemed to have been spent on infrastructure that no one is using, note how little traffic is on the road, I deliberately picked my time, so the photographs would not be full of people or bikes, the better to explain the system. I can assure you thousands travel around Munich each and every day by bike, you and old, mothers taking their kids to nursery school or on a trip to the local supermarket.  

This is a cycle lane, note how the broken white lines continue the cycle lane across the side road, Traffic coming out of that road must give way to cyclists.

Woried about hills, you can use E-bikes or these little E-scooters, You unlock them with your smartphone and send a message where you dropped them off (abandoned it).

When traffic and bicycle come together on the road the white lines clearly define cycle lane and road. hear straight ahead or cross over when the light is green.

Here we see Pavement (for people only) cycle track (for cycles only) road (for all other traffic) – supper safety for all.

These little scooters are really popular with the younger generation

The cycles has right of way at this junction

At major junctions, you wait for the lights.

Not until we spend the money putting in propper cycle lanes in Scottish cities can we ever hope to make the necessary, change for the well-being of our people, (and well-being of the environment).

2 thoughts on “Cycling Safety not Paying Lip Service

  1. I notice that their roads don’t have huge dips at the side of the road where the drainage system is like ours do (making it pretty dangerous at the best of times). How do they get over this?

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    1. If you are installing new infrastructure you make the cycle lanes like pavements – no drains – and when the cycle lane and road are shared you simply do not leave boobie traps. If you look at the pictures, the slope is away from the shops to the roadside kerb so no drains just tarmac surfaces. for bikes, slabbed area for pedestrians. think how the council managed to steel a part of the road in South Street St Andrews to accommodate the tents at pubs and cafes, it is only civil engineering all it takes is the will.

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