Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pedal Power

Saturday was a great day for anyone remotely Green and anyone who prefers two wheels to four.

Pedal on Parliament was a roaring success, with around 3,000 cyclists buzzing through Edinburgh city centre.

It was heartening to see so many people, young and old, male and female, serious and silly, simply enjoying the freedom to freewheel down the Royal Mile on a sunny day.

The Scottish Government has a commitment to increase cycling in Scotland so that by 2020 10 per cent of journeys are made by bike. At the moment, with only seven and a half years to go, it’s just one per cent. Uh oh.

And in more switched on societies serious funding is thrown at walking and cycling infrastructure, recognising the benefits to health, wellbeing, people’s budgets and the environment. Sadly in Scotland we only spend one per cent of the transport budget in this area. The Nats blew the kitty on a shiny second Forth Road Bridge and a bunch of other useless bits of motorway that very soon no bugger will be able to afford to drive on.

Cycling isn’t a wacky hobby anymore - it’s mainstream. Sadly the roads don’t recognise this. And when you listen to government ministers talking about cycling it’s clear they haven’t caught up either. They’re still pushing a hectoring agenda all about people getting out of their cars and getting on their bikes because it’s good for health and carbon emissions. I’ve cycled all my life and it’s only in recent years it’s occurred to me I’m keeping myself fit and not killing the planet. I started riding because IT’S FUN.

Cycling should be a first option, something made easy and attractive. If you make it easy and fun people will do it. Trying to sell it to them will always be an uphill struggle. It should simply be the norm.

It’s much the same when it comes to public transport. I keep hearing politicians talking about buses as important for rural residents, the elderly, disabled and those struggling to find work. It gives the impression it’s a mode of transport that is a last resort, a safety net. When of course it should be the norm.

Anyway, one thing most cyclists have by the bucket load is stamina. So the government can be assured we won’t be dropping the subject any time soon.

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