I wonder if Transport Scotland’s refreshing of their cycling action plan, will in many ways become their 5 year plan. Except for the fact that in Soviet Russia the 5 year plans took political precedence. In Transport Scotland’s plan they state by 2020 they want 10% of all trips made to be completed on a bicycle, much like they said in 2010.
It is now generally believed that in order to increase the number of journeys made by bike, we should build more cycling infrastructure. The question then is why do the Scottish Governments own councillors stop the completion of cycle lanes, when even their opposition in government have backed the idea? Will the SNP allow their own councillors to destroy their own action plan, in Soviet Russia they would have been off to the Gulags and not Waitrose.
“People work hard to own a car and run it and they should not be penalised for that”, said SNP councillor Small. In this simple sentence he shows how language is used against cyclists. He is basically stating that if you work hard, you will have a car and if you do not work hard, you ride a bike. Riding a bike is for the weak and the shirkers. It all goes back to Thatcher and her idea that if you were over 30 and used public transport you were a loser, we need to move on from this idea and realise that for many journeys a bike is preferable to a car.
He also states that local businesses believe they would be put out out of business by a cycle path. The evidence however is for the opposite. When you drive a car you can carry more than if you have a bike, even if you ride a big cargo bike this is true. This then is why many little shops have issues as people now use supermarkets and out of town shopping if they are driving, as it is simply much easier. However if people commute by bike they tend to stop at local shops and buy small amounts but do so multiple times a week. This actually increases sales for the smaller, independent local shops. It has been shown to have increases in average up to 49% higher sales and some shops have even seen a 179% increase. Perhaps local shops should have had this explained to them, this might not be true if you sell sofas though.
The above was all happening in an area that has an air quality management issues. That is correct, in this area people are dying because of car exhaust fumes but we still want to believe in the myth of the superiority of cars. Their local councillor is implying that his constituents should measure their societal worth by car ownership and in doing so they are slowly killing themselves and others. Give them a gun and ask them to shoot someone and I hope the answer would be no but driving a car seems to be a justifiable way to kill people, if you can not see them then they do not matter.
In the UK 40,000 people die from air pollution every year. Outside of Scotland but just down the road in London, they have put out an alert based on how toxic the air is just now. In Scotland we can try and avoid this happening and a good way to start would be for the SNP to make sure their councillors actually toe their party line, otherwise their 2020 dream will remain just that.
Looking at the funding of this dream is also disappointing. Spending for walking and cycling accounted for 1.9% of the transport budget but surely if they need 10% of journeys to be made this way then the spending needs to increase. This idea was however was immediately dismissed by the action plan’s group. So we are sort of left with a plan that can not achieve its goal as it will not be funded to achieve its goal. Remember as well this idea was first mooted in 2010, after 7 years we have not moved forward and now we have 3 years to make the goal but with no funding.
There is one diamond in amongst all this tough though. They are going to make wifi hotspots out on rural cycle paths. That’s right the Scottish governments plan to increase cycling is to make you ride into the country to check on your Facebook, yes they think people will get up off their comfy sofas and ride to get the internet somewhere in the countryside. Maybe they could invest that money in creating traffic free routes instead or is that just madness?
After so much negativity, how about a video from America to cheer you up?